(February 24, 1743-June 19, 1820)
Born in London, United Kingdom
Sailed with Captain James Cook on the Endeavour (1768-71)
Introduced eucalyptus, acacia, mimosa and banksia to the West
President of the Royal Society (1778-1820)
Namesake for 80 plant species
Why he might be annoying
When the Endeavour was detained in Rio de Janeiro by a viceroy who refused to believe the ship's mission was purely scientific, he snuck out his cabin window to make unauthorized explorations of the coast.
Plans for him to accompany Cook on a second voyage fell through over his demands for alterations to the ship, which Cook claimed would make it too top heavy.
His proposal to transplant breadfruit from the South Pacific to the Caribbean resulted in the notorious mutiny on the Bounty (1789).
A suggestion that New South Wales should be named Banksia in his honor never got off the ground.
Why he might not be annoying
For the Endeavor expedition, he spent £10,000 out of his own pocket for scientific equipment and supplies. (For comparison, the Endeavour had cost £2,840 to build.)
He discovered 1300 new species of plants during the Endeavour voyage.
He served as unofficial science advisor to King George III, with projects ranging from overseeing the Royal Gardens at Kew to improving British wool by importing Spanish Merano sheep to sponsoring various explorers.
He was called 'the father of Australia,' since he was an early proponent of establishing a penal colony there and was frequently consulted by the colony's early governors.
Credit: C. Fishel
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