Perter Collinson Mill Hill
...seeds across the sea


The Peter Collinson Chronology: Key Dates from a combination of sources including Alfred E. Schuyler (1)

1648 The Dutch and the Swedish compete for the land around present-day Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River. 
They each build forts and the Swedish burn down the Dutch fort twice
1660 Founding of the Royal Society
1686 John Ray (1627-1705) publishes first volume of Historia Plantarum
1687 Isaac Newton (1642-1727) publishes Principia, introducing the concept of gravity
1690 John Locke (1632-1704) publishes Essay Concerning Human Understanding; the beginning of empiricism
1694 Peter Collinson born on Jan 28th, St Clements Lane, Lombard Street, London, son of Peter (wholesale woollen draper and mercer)and Elizabeth Hall Collinson
1695 Birth of Collinson’s brother James (d. 1762), who becomes his business partner
1696 Peter Collinson went to live with his maternal grandmother [surname Hall] in Peckham:
Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) publishes Catalogus Plantarum quae in Insula Jamaica sponte proveniunt
1701 William Penn presented a Charter of Privileges for the Province of Pennsylvania during his second and last visit to the colony
1703 Samuel Pepys (b.1633), English diarist, died
1705 The first steam engine was built employing a piston in a cylinder by Thomas Newcomen
1706 Collinson family moves to Gracechurch Street, which also is the location of their mercery shop and Collinson’s place of business until the retirement of Peter Collinson
1707 English-Scottish parliament accepted Act of Union and formed Great Britain: Sloane publishes the first volume of The Natural History of Jamaica
1708 William Pitt the Elder was born: 1st Earl of Chatham, Viscount Pitt of Burton-Pynsent: Prime Minister 1756-61 & 1766 - 68: died 1778
1710 Britain’s Queen Anne gave her assent to an act “for the encouragement of learning”
1711 Peter Collinson works in his father’s mercery shop; his mother manages the shop after her husband’s death
1712 George Frederick Handel settled in Surrey, England: (born 1685 - died 1759) 
1722 Phillip Miller (1691-1771) becomes superintendent of the Physic Garden at Chelsea: Peter Collinson starts recording plants at his Peckham home, South London
1723 Peter Collinson receives seeds of Maryland plants from his cousin Richard Hall: plants of Senna marilandica obtained in 1723, reportedly flower in his garden at Peckham every year “about the end of August”
1724 Peter Collinson marries Mary Russell (1704-1753), daughter of Michael and Mary Russell
1725 Peter Collinson writes to Sloane telling him he has fifty bottles of curious creatures in spirits
1727 Peter Collinson’s son Michael born (d.1795): Hans Sloane becomes president of the Royal Society:
1727-1760 George II was King of Great Britain (b.1683 - d.1760).
1728 Peter Collinson elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS): the first decade of John Martyn’s Historia Plantarum Rariortum is published in London:
Captain James Cook born 1728 - died 1779.
1729 Peter Collinson publishes his first paper in the Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society
1730 Mark Catesby (1683-1749) publishes part 1, plates 1-20, of volume 1 of The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas Islands
1731 Correspondence from Peckham: Philip Miller publishes the first edition of The Gardener’s Dictionary:
Peter Collinson becomes its London agent the following year
1732 Peter Collinson is promoted to the Council of the Royal Society: Johannes Jacobus Dillenius (1687-1747) publishes Hortus Elthamensis
1733 Peter Collinson begins association with John Bartram (1699-1777)
1734 Death of Peter Collinson’s mother in Peckham
1735 Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) publishes Systema Naturae, introducing his sexual system of plants; George Dionysius Ehret (1710-1770) begins painting plants in English gardens including Mertensia virginica in Peter Collinson’s garden
1736 Linnaeus visits PC’s ‘Museum’ Gracechurch Street, London; Peter Collinson publishes the experimental work by James Logan (1674-1751) on sexual processes in corn in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
1737 Martyn publishes the last portion of his Historia, including an engraving of Bletia purpurea with Collinson’s coat of arms;
Linnaeus publishes Hortus Cliffortianus with a description and Ehret’s drawing of Collinsonia:
Catesby paints Cypripedium acaule in Collinson’s garden and publishes it in his Natural History;
Occasional plantings, house of parents-in-law at Mill Hill
1739 Peter Collinson’s letter to Linnaeus thanking him for naming Collinsonia Canadensis after him;
Johannes Fredericus Gronovius (1690-1762) publishes Part 1 of Flora Virginica  based on a manuscript of John Clayton
1740 Peter Collinson publishes John Bartram’s letter on rattlesnake teeth in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
1741 Dillenius publishes Historia Muscorum, with descriptions and illustrations of “mosses” sent by John Bartram
1742 Death of Lord Petre (b.1713); James Gordon (ca.1708-1780) establishes nursery at Mile End, near the New Globe, Stepney
1743 Bartram acknowledges the receipt of a silver cup inscribed by Hans Sloane.
Gronovius publishes Part 2 of Flora Virginica;
George Edwards publishes the first volume of A Natural History of Uncommon Birds
1745 Peter Collinson sends publications on electricity and equipment for performing electrical experiments to the Library Company of Philadelphia for Benjamin franklin (1706-1790) to use in his research
1747 Peter Collinson is elected to the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences;
Linnaeus names and describes Bartramia (now included in Triumfetta) and Coldenia in Flora Zeylanica;
Peter Collinson starts the transfer of plants to Mill Hill from Peckham
1748 Botanist Peter Kalm (1716-1779) visits and describes garden at Peckham;
Georg Ehret publishes the first plates of Plantae et Papiliones Rariores;
Christopher Jacob Trew (1695-1769) publishes Nova Genera Planatarum by John Mitchell (1711-1768)
1749 Death of Father-in–law and Peter Collinson moves to Ridgeway House, Mill Hill. 
Linnaeus publishes the first part of Plantae Coldenhamiae by Caldwallader Golden
1750 Death of Charles Lennox (b.1701) second Duke of Richmond; Trew (1695-1769) publishes the first plates of Hortus Nitidissimus and the first decade of Plantae Selectae, both with many paintings by Ehret
1751 Peter Collinson publishes Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity and Bartram’s Observations on Inhabitants, Soil, Rivers, Productions, Animals, and Other matters Worthy of Notice.
Moses Bartram (1732-1809) visits Mill Hill and receives clothing and plants from peter Collinson;
1751-1766 Contributor to the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’
1753 Wife Mary dies; marriage of his daughter Mary to John Cator; birth of Peter Collinson’s grandson, Charles Streynsham Collinson (d.1834), son of Michael;
Death of Sloane;
Linnaeus publishes Species Plantarum;
Franklin is awarded a Copley Medal from the Royal Society for his work on electricity;
Peter Collinson elected to Council of Royal Society
1755 Philip Miller publishes the first 60 plates of Figures of the Most Beautiful, Useful, and Uncommon Plants Described in the Gardeners Dictionary. 
Beginning of the Seven Years War - most of the conflict taking place between 1756 - 1763.
1756 Peter Collinson nominator of Benjamin Franklin as FRS
1759 Kew Gardens is said to date from this year, traced back to the exotic garden in Kew Park.
1757 Peter Collinson visited by Benjamin Franklin at Mill Hill
1762 Cambridge University Botanic Garden opens – Peter Collinson has some influence in the establishment of the garden through his relationship with Rev Richard Walker, vice-master of Trinity College
1763 Brother James (and business partner) dies;
Daniel Solander (1733-1782) becomes assistant librarian at the British Museum
1765 Peter Collinson retires from Business in London;
John Bartram is appointed the King’s Botanist and begins a trip to the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida
1767 William Stork’s Account of East-Florida with a Journal kept by John Bartram of Philadelphia is published in London;
Benjamin Franklin and Daniel Solander spend a few days with Peter Collinson at Ridgeway House
1768    Peter Collinson dies August 11th;
Mill Hill garden passes to Michael Collinson;
Fothergill’s garden at Upton becomes the centre for American introductions
1768-1771 First voyage of James Cook on H M Endeavour accompanied by Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) and Daniel Solander (1733-1782):
First circumnavigation of New Zealand and the charting of the eastern coast of New Holland (Australia).
1769 John Bartram is elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Stockholm
1770 Son Michael rents out Ridgeway House for two years;
Dr John Fothergill writes ‘Life of Peter Collinson’; Michael Collinson writes ‘Life of Peter Collinson’
1772 Society of Gentlemen in Edinburgh awards John Bartram a gold medal
1773/4 Death of John Clayton
1777 Death of John Bartram;
John Bartram Jr. becomes the proprietor of Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia
1795 Son Michael dies
1776 Death of Cadwallander Golden
Protestant Dissenters buy Ridgeway House as a school
Mill Hill Schol founded on The Ridgeway, Mill Hill
Mill Hill School - School House erected in 1825 designed by Sir William Tite
1834 Charles Streynsham Collinson dies (son of Michael)
1835 Linnaean Society field outing to Mill Hill School (attributed Brett James)
1851 ‘Biblical Repertory’, Philadelphia: W. H. Dillingham
1899  ‘The Millhillian’: article on Peter Collinson by Norman Brett James
1902 Collinson House: first on-site Boarder House at Mill Hill School
1904 Elizabeth Allen, Philadelphia: Bartram’s Garden
1912 Ridgeway House, second on-site Boarder House at Mill Hill School
1919 Dr J. Hingston Fox: Dr John Fothergill & his Friends
1952  ‘Country Life’: Elizabeth McLean: article on Peter Collinson
19??  Mill Hill School Cedar of Lebanon felled as dangerous to highway
2002 Alan Armstrong: Forget Not Mee and My Garden – selected letters
2002 Penelope Hobhouse: The Story of Gardening
2007 R. Braithwaite: ‘Strikingly Alive’: the 200 year history of Mill Hill School
2008 Andrea Wulf: Brothers of the Spade
2008 Elizabeth McLean / Jean O’Neill: Peter Collinson & the 18th century Natural History Exchange
2009 Cedrus Libani planted at Mill Hill School to mark the Mill Hill Preservation Society 60th Anniversary
2011 Andrea Wulf: The Founding Gardeners
2018 250th anniversary of the death of Peter Collinson


(1) Jane O’Neill / Elizabeth McLean, The 18th Century Natural History Exchange (Philadelphia, 2008) – Chronology by Alfred E. Schuyler