Sir Joseph Banks was born on February 13, 1743. He was born in London, but grew up in Lincolnshire country side where he developed a keen interest in nature, history and botany as a young boy.
During Banks’ studies at the University of Oxford, Banks paid the Cambridge botanist Israel Lyons to give a series of lectures. After leaving the university without a degree Banks attended Chelsea Physic Gardens, the second oldest botanical garden in England, to indulge his interest in botany.
Dr Anna Marie Roos, a reader in the history or science and medicine at the University of Lincoln, said: “Banks did not spend a lot of time in Lincolnshire, but when he did come back to Lincolnshire he did some very significant experiments with sheep breeding that are still important to the county today.”
At the age of 23, Banks was elected to the Royal Society and in the same year embarked on his first expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
In 1768, Joseph Banks was appointed to a Royal Society expedition to the South Pacific on HMS Endeavour with James Cook.
On return from the Endeavour expedition Banks became the centre of scientific inquiry very quickly. He was then present to King George III and received a degree of doctor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford.
The following year, Banks was given royal patronage to expand Kew Garden. Banks began to collect exotics from all over the world to. Kew Gardens now has the largest collection of living plants in the world.
Dr Roos said: “He came up with the idea for economic botany. This was the importation of plants from all over the world to be house at Kew, where they were developed and also shipped for export.”
Banks’ contribution to science and botany is regarded very highly. He has several memorials dedicated to him in Lincoln including £14million science laboratories at the University of Lincoln and a plaque in Lincoln Cathedral.
Mark Hocknull, a Visiting Senior Fellow in the College of Arts at the University of Lincoln and a Canon Chancellor at Lincoln Cathedral, said: “You can go on a tour of the roof and the walls [of the cathedral] and part of that tour will take you up to the [upper] level and if you stand just in front of the round window and look down the length of the cathedral and that’s known as Banks’ View.”