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Evelyn, John

Evelyn, John

(b. Wotton, Surrey, England, 31 October 1620; d. London, England, 27 February 1706)

arboriculture, horticulture.

Evelyn was the grandson of George Evelyn, principal manufacturer of gunpowder under Queen Elizabeth, and the second son of Richard Evelyn, high sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1633–1634. He was at Balliol College, Oxford, from 1637 to 1640. On account of the political situation in England he left the country in November 1643 and traveled through France and Italy for the next three years. From June 1645 to April 1646 he was mostly in Padua, studying anatomy and physiology. He brought back anatomical tables which he presented to the Royal Society; these are now in the Royal College of Surgeons.

In July 1646 Evelyn returned to Paris, where he attended courses in chemistry by Nicasius Le Fèvre. In 1649 he went through another course in chemistry at Sayes Court in England. In June 1647 he married Mary, the daughter of Sir Richard Browne, Charles I’s diplomatic agent in France. The marriage was a happy one. Of their five sons and three daughters, only one daughter survived her father.

Evelyn spent the last year of the Civil War in England, and his first work, Of Liberty and Servitude, a translation of the French treatise against tyranny of F. de la Mothe le Vayer, appeared in January 1649. It was during his last stay in Paris, from 1649 to 1652, that Nanteuil engraved his portrait (1650). Before leaving, he wrote a short treatise on The State of France, As It Stood in the IXth Yeer of This Present Monarch, Lewis XIIII (London, 1652). In February 1652 he finally returned to England and settled at Sayes Court, his father-in-law’s estate at Deptford in Kent. This was to be his home for the next forty years. After the death of his brother George in 1699, he succeeded to the family estate of Wotton, where he took up residence in 1700.

During his travels Evelyn visited hospitals and was interested in their organization. He showed he had a notion of the importance of isolation during the plague by suggesting the construction of an infirmary. His Diary contains a description of touching for the king’s evil in 1660 and notices of treatments, medicinal springs, and surgical operations (particularly an amputation of the leg and cutting for the stone). He was present at several dissections and in 1683 attended Walter Charleton’s lecture on the heart. He was concerned with hygiene and in Fumifugium (1661), a work on the pollution of the air in London, he proposed removing certain trades and planting a green belt of fragrant trees and shrubs around the city. He also possessed some knowledge of zoology.

Horticulture was an enduring interest throughout Evelyn’s life and at the beginning of 1653 he started laying out the gardens at Sayes Court, which were to become famous. He began making notes for a vast projected work on horticulture, Elysium britannicum. The work, to which Sir Thomas Browne contributed, was never completed and only a synopsis was printed in 1659. But Evelyn continued adding to his notes throughout his life. He also offered valuable practical information to gardeners by publishing translations of important French works, particularly The Compleat Gard’ner from Jean de La Quintinie (1693).

Evelyn’s principal work, Sylva, was the outcome of his association with the Royal Society. Following inquiries made in September 1662 by the commissioners of the navy to the Royal Society concerning timber trees, he drew up a report which he enlarged and presented to the Royal Society on 16 February 1664. Sylva was the first book published by order of the Society. It was an immediate success, and more than a thousand copies were sold in less than two years. Evelyn received special thanks from the king and the work appears to have had considerable influence on the propagation of timber trees throughout the kingdom. Sylva is not a scientific work but the exhortation of a lover of trees to his countrymen to repair the damage caused by the Civil War. It contains practical information interspersed haphazardly with classical references. To Sylva was annexed Pomona, a discourse on the cultivation of fruit trees for the production of cider, and Kalendarium hortense, a gardener’s almanac, being a chapter of the unfinished Elysium britannicum. A Philosophical Discourse of Earth appeared in 1676; it was added to Sylua in 1679, as Terra. His Acetaria. A Discourse of Sallets, also part of Elysium britannicum, was published separately in 1699, then added to the 1706 edition of Sylua. Sylua was advertised in 1670 and 1671 in the autumn catalogue of books at the Frankfurt fair. Alexander Hunter popularized Sylua with an extensively annotated edition, collated from the five original editions, in 1776.

To familiarize his countrymen with the philosophy of Epicurus, Evelyn published his translation of the first book of Lucretius’ De rerum natura in 1656, followed by a commentary on the works of Gassendi and atomism. Evelyn had taken no part in the affairs of state during the Interregnum, but at the end of 1659 he published an anonymous pamphlet, An Apologie for the Royal Party, to induce Colonel Morley, later lieutenant of the Tower, to declare for the king. This proved unsuccessful but may have eased the way for the return of Charles II, to whom Evelyn presented a Panegyric on his coronation. In this he suggested that Charles should become the founder of a body for the furthering of experimental knowledge. In 1654, at Oxford, Evelyn had met John Wilkins, the leader of an active group of men interested in science; he thus met Christopher Wren, with whom he collaborated several times during his life-time. In 1659 he sent Robert Boyle a suggestion for the foundation of a “Mathematical College,” or community for scientific study. In December 1660 Evelyn was proposed a member of the society for “the promoting of experimental philosophy,” then meeting at Gresham College.

Evelyn was instrumental in obtaining royal patronage and the name of “Royal Society” for the group in 1662. He attended the meetings regularly, served on the council frequently, and was offered the presidency. In January 1661 he drew up a “History of Arts Illiberal and Mechanick” (Royal Society Archives). He was appointed a member of several committees of inquiry, including that for agriculture, and contributed papers on various subjects. In 1665 he sat on the committee for the improvement of the English language.

The fourteen years following the king’s return were those of Evelyn’s greatest public activity, although the offices he held were only temporary appointments. He served on several commissions from 1660 to 1674—for the improvement of London streets in 1662, for the Royal Mint in 1663, and for the repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1666, during which he worked with Christopher Wren. On 13 September 1666 Evelyn presented his plan for the rebuilding of the city, together with a discourse on the problems involved. But the entire replanning soon appeared impracticable. During the two Dutch wars (1664–1667 and 1672–1674) he was commissioner for the sick and wounded mariners and prisoners of war, his most responsible appointment. From 1671 to 1674 he was a member of the Council for Foreign Plantations, later the Council of Trade and Foreign Plantations. In 1674 Navigation and Commerce appeared, being the introduction to a history of the Dutch war that Charles had asked Evelyn to write, which was never finished.

In January 1667 Evelyn obtained for the library of the Royal Society the famous collection of books and manuscripts of the earl of Arundel. The collection of stones bearing Greek and Latin inscriptions was also secured through his good offices for the university of Oxford. Sculptura: or the History, and Art of Chalcography and Engraving in Copper (1662) was the outcome of a paper read before the Royal Society. His artistic interests also led him to translate two books from the French of Roland Fréart de Chambray, A Parallel of the Antient Architecture with the Modern (1664) and An Idea of the Perfection of Painting (1668). To the Parallel Evelyn added an Account of Architects and Architecture, which he dedicated in the second edition to Christopher Wren. The book appears to have been an indispensable work for later architects. His Numismata. A Discourse of Medals, Antient and Modern (1697) closed with a discussion of character as derived from effigies.

Evelyn’s translations also include Instructions Concerning Erecting of a Library from the French of Gabriel Naudé and Jansenist writings against the Jesuits, for in spite of his tolerance he was hostile to Catholicism. He was a staunch and devout Anglican and found a spiritual advisor in Jeremy Taylor. In 1672 he formed a pious friendship with Margaret Blagge, later Mrs. Godolphin, a maid of honor to the queen, and wrote her Life to commemorate her virtues. Among his closest friends was Samuel Pepys, the diarist.

Evelyn lacked detachment and a methodical training to make his contributions scientifically valid. His activity was guided by religious and patriotic motives. His various publications were intended to “give ferment to the curious.” His Diary, which he kept throughout his life, is his greatest contribution, albeit to letters rather than to science.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Evelyn’s works—some of which were published anonymously or pseudonymously—include his trans. of F. de la Mothe le Vayer’s Of Liberty and Servitude (London, 1649); The State of France, As It Stood in the IXth Yeer of This Present Monarch, Lewis XIIII (London, 1652); An Essay on the First Book of T. Lucretius Carus De rerum natura (London, 1656); as “Philocepos,” The French Gardiner: Instructing How to Cultivate all Sorts of Fruit-Trees, and Herbs for the Garden, trans. from N. de Bonnefons (London, 1658); The Golden Book of St. John Chrysostom, Concerning the Education of Children, trans. from the Greek (London, 1659); A Character of England, As It Was Lately Presented in a Letter, to a Noble Man of France (London, 1659); An Apologie for the Royal Party: Written in a Letter to a Person of the Late Councel of State (London, 1659); Elysium britannicum (London, ca. 1659), a synopsis of proposed work on gardening, presumably a table of contents, British Museum Add. MS. 15950, f. 143; The Late News or Message From Bruxels Unmasked, and His Majesty Vindicated, From the Base Calumny and Scandal Therein Fixed on Him (London, 1660); The Manner of Ordering Fruit-Trees, trans. from “Le Sieur Le Gendre” (London, 1660) [attributed to Evelyn by F. E. Budd, in Review of English Studies, 14 (1938), 285–297]. A Panegyric to Charles the Second, Presented to His Majestie the XXIII. of April, Being the Day of His Coronation. MDCLXI (London, 1661); Fumifugium: or the Inconveniencie of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated (London, 1661); Instructions Concerning Erecting of a Library... trans. from Gabriel Naudé (London, 1661); Tyrannus or the Mode: in a Discourse of Sumptuary Lawes (London, 1661); Sculptura: or the History, and Art of Chalcography and Engraving in Copper (London, 1662); Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesties Dominions... To Which Is Annexed Pomona; or, An Appendix Concerning Fruit-Trees in Relation to Cider, The Making and Several Ways of Ordering It... Also Kalendarium Hortense; or, Gard’ners Almanac; Directing What He Is to Do Monethly Throughout the Year (London, 1664); A Parallel of the Antient Architecture with the Modern, trans. from the French of R. Freart de Chambray (London, 1664); M vστήριον τη̑ς ’Aνομíας That Is, Another Part of the Mystery of Jesuitism, trans. from the French of A. Arnauld and P. Nicole (London, 1664); The Pernicious Consequences of the New Heresie of the Jesuites Against the King and the State, trans. from the French of P. Nicole (London, 1666); The English Vineyard Vindicated by John Rose Gard’ner to His Majesty (London, 1666) [Evelyn’s authorship identified by G. Keynes]; Publick Employment and an Active Life Prefer’d to Solitude (London, 1667); An Idea of the Perfection of Painting, trans. from R. Fréart de Chambray (London, 1668); The History of the Three Late Famous Impostors (London, 1669); Navigation and Commerce, Their Original and Progress (London, 1674); A Philosophical Discourse of Earth, Relating to the Culture and Improvement of It for Vegetation, and the Propagation of Plants, & c. as It Was Presented to the Royal Society, April 29.1675 (London, 1676) [called Terra in later editions]; The Compleat Gard’ner or Directions for Cultivating and Right Ordering of Fruit-Gardens and Kitchen-Gardens; With Divers Reflections on Several Parts of Husbandry, trans. from J. de La Quintinie (London, 1693); Numismata. A Discourse of Medals, Antient and Modern (London, 1697); and Acetaria. A Discourse of Sallets (London, 1699).

His occasional contributions include “An Account of Snow-Pits in Italy,” in R. Boyle, New Experiments and Observations Touching Cold (London, 1665), pp. 407–409; “An Advertisement of a Way of Making More Lively Counterfeits of Nature in Wax, Than Are Extant in Painting: And of a New Kind of Maps in a Low Relievo. Both Practised in France,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1 (1665), 99–100; “A Letter... Concerning the Spanish Sembrador or New Engin for Ploughing... Sowing... and Harrowing, at Once,” ibid., 5 (1670), 1055–1057; “Panificium, or the Several Manners of Making Bread in France. Where, by Universal Consent, the Best Bread in the World Is Eaten,” in J. Houghton. A Collection of Letters for the Improvement of Husbandry & Trade, no. 12 (16 Jan. 1683), 127–136; “An Abstract of a Letter From the Worshipful John Evelyn Esq; Sent to One of the Secretaries of the R. Society Concerning the Dammage Done to his Gardens by the Preceding Winter,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 14 (1684), 559–563; and “Letter to William Cowper Relating to the Anatomical Tables [acquired by Evelyn in Padua],” ibid., 23 (1702), 1177–1719.

Evelyn’s shorter works are collected in William Upcott, ed., The Miscellaneous Writings of John Evelyn, Esq., F. R. S., (London, 1825). Posthumous publications are R. M. Evanson, ed., The History of Religion. A Rational Account of the True Religion (London, 1850); Geoffrey Keynes, ed., Memoires for My Grand-son (Oxford, 1926) and Directions for the Gardiner at Says-Court But Which May Be of Use for Other Gardens (Oxford, 1932); Walter Frere, ed., A Devotionarie Book of John Evelyn (London, 1936); E. S. de Beer, ed., London Revived (Oxford, 1938), the discourse on the replanning of the City of London after the Great Fire; and Harriet Sampson, ed., The Life of Mrs. Godolphin (London, 1939).

Evelyn’s diary was published first in shortened form by William Bray as Memoirs (London, 1818); of many later editions E.S. de Beer, ed., The Diary of John Evelyn, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1955), is definitive. Selections from the Diary containing important notes may be found in Voyage de Lister à Paris en MDCXCVIII.... On y a joint des Extraits des ouvrages d’Evelyn relatifs à ses voyages en France de 1648 à 1661 (Oxford, 1914); and The Early Life and Education of John Evelyn (Oxford, 1920); and Howard C. Levis, ed., Extracts from the Diaries and Correspondence of John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys Relating to Engraving (London, 1915).

Evelyn’s correspondence may be found in William Bray, ed., Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn... To Which Is Subjoined, The Private Correspondence Between King Charles I and Sir Edward Nicholas, in Bohn’s Historical Library (London, 1859 and later issues); F. E. Rowley Heygate, ed., Seven Letters of John Evelyn, 1665–1703 (London, 1914); and Clara Marburg, Mr. Pepys and Mr. Evelyn (Philadelphia, 1935).

II. Secondary Literature. Books on Evelyn include Helen Evelyn, The History of the Evelyn Family (London, 1915); Florence Higham, John Evelyn, Esquire. An Anglican Layman of the Seventeenth Century (London, 1968); W. G. Hiscock, John Evelyn and Mrs. Godolphin (London, 1951) and John Evelyn and His Family Circle (London, 1955), which present an adverse view of Evelyn; Geoffrey Keynes, John Evelyn. A Study in Bibliophily With a Bibliography of His Writings (Oxford, 1968); and Arthur Ponsonby, John Evelyn, Fellow of the Royal Society; Author of “Sylva” (London, 1933).

Lectures and articles that deal with Evelyn and his work are Jackson I. Cope, “Evelyn, Boyle and Dr. Wilkinson’s ‘Mathematico-Chymico-Mechanical School,’” in Isis, 50 (1959), 30–32; Edward Gordon Craig, “John Evelyn and the Theatre in England, France and Italy,” in The Mask, 10 (1924), repr. in Books and Theatres (1925), pp. 3–68; E. S. de Beer, “John Evelyn, F.R.S. (1620–1706)”, in Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Tercentenary Number, 15 (1960), 231–238; Margaret Denny, “The Early Program of the Royal Society and John Evelyn”, in Modern Language Quarterly, 1 (1940), 481–497; Leonard Guthrie, The Medical History of John Evelyn, D.C.L., F.R.S., and of His Time 1620–1706 (London, 1905), two lectures delivered before the Harveian Society of London and the King’s College Medical Society in October 1902 and October 1903, respectively; George B. Parks, “John Evelyn and the Art of Travel,” in The Huntington Library Quarterly, 10 (1947), 251–276; W. Barclay Squire, “Evelyn and Music,” in The Times Literary Supplement (17 Apr. 1924; 16 Oct. 1924; 14 May 1925; 10 Dec. 1925; and 14 Oct. 1926); and F. Sherwood Taylor, “The Chemical Studies of John Evelyn,” in Annals of Science, 8 (285–292.)

Colette Avignon

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John Evelyn

John Evelyn

The English author John Evelyn (1620-1706) is remembered today for his diary. He was known to his contemporaries as the author of a number of treatises on gardening, engraving, pollution, coins, conservation of forests, and navigation.

John Evelyn was born on Oct. 31, 1620, at Wotton in Surrey. He was brought up by his maternal grandmother and attended the Southborough free school. In 1637 he entered the Middle Temple and later, Balliol College, Oxford, where he remained 3 years. He then returned to the Middle Temple, but he seems never to have studied law.

Evelyn spent most of the years after he left Oxford traveling in France and Italy, learning the languages of those countries, and studying art and architecture. Although he was a devout Anglican, during the English civil war he did not join the King's forces for fear that the family estates, which were in parliamentary territory, would be forfeited. In 1647 he married Mary Browne, daughter of the English ambassador at Paris. In 1652 the Evelyns returned to England and acquired the Browne estate at Sayes Court, Deptford.

In the years preceding the Restoration, Evelyn became acquainted with many of the men who eventually constituted the Royal Society. In 1656 he published a verse translation of Lucretius's De rerum natura. When the Royal Society was formally constituted in 1660, Evelyn was elected a member.

Most of Evelyn's writing in the next few years was scientific. In 1661 he published Fumifugium, a tract offering suggestions for freeing London of smog. The following year he brought out Sculptura, an essay on mezzotint engraving. In 1664 the first edition of Sylva, his most widely read work, on the conservation of trees, appeared.

Evelyn was also occupied with public service and was appointed by Charles II to a number of commissions. In 1685, shortly after James's accession, Evelyn was appointed one of the commissioners of the privy seal. In 1694 he accepted King William's invitation to serve as treasurer of Greenwich Hospital. In 1699 Evelyn inherited the family estate at Wotton. He spent his last days there, dying on Feb. 3, 1706.

Evelyn's diary was published in 1818, although the first complete and accurate edition did not appear until 1955. It is not a record of daily life but a transcription of notes made of various historical events from the time Evelyn was 11.

Further Reading

The most accurate information about Evelyn is in volume 1 of his Diary, edited by E. S. de Beer (6 vols., 1955). Two excellent full-length biographies are Arthur Ponsonby, John Evelyn (1933), and Clara Marburg Kirk, Mr. Pepys and Mr. Evelyn (1935). W. G. Hiscock presents less favorable views of Evelyn in John Evelyn and Mrs. Godolphin (1951) and John Evelyn and His Family Circle (1955).

Additional Sources

Bowle, John, John Evelyn and his world: a biography, London; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.

Kirk, Clara Marburg, Mr. Pepys and Mr. Evelyn, Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1974. □

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Evelyn, John

Evelyn, John (1620–1706). English scholar, diarist, intellectual, gardener, and founder member of The Royal Society. In his Fumifugium; or the inconveniencies of the aer and smoak of London dissipated, together with some remedies …(1661) he proposed expelling noxious trades from the City. of London, forming new extra-mural cemeteries, and designing new urban squares, planted with trees and sweet-smelling flowers. His Sylva (1664), a treatise on arboriculture, was probably intended as part of an ambitious encyclopaedia of gardening, and in the same year he published A Parallel of Ancient Architecture with the Modern (a translation of Fréart de Chambray's Parallèle) in which he argued for the establishment of schools for the teaching of architecture: it also included a glossary of terms. In 1658 and 1698 he published translations of French works on gardening and garden design, and wrote a vast work on gardens and gardening, ‘Elysium Britannicum’, which he never published. Having judiciously removed himself from England during the Civil War, he travelled on the Continent in 1643–7 and again in 1649–52, where he absorbed much information. On his return to England he settled at Sayes Court, Deptford (then in Kent), where he landscaped the grounds, and also designed the gardens of his brother's house at Wotton House, Surrey. From 1677 he laid out the gardens of Albury Park, Surrey. He was involved at Cornbury House, Oxon. (1664 and again in the 1680s), and Euston Hall, Suffolk (1671), where he employed straight avenues (a term he promoted). Virtually nothing of these works survives. In 1666 he advised Wren on the scheme to rebuild St Paul's Cathedral, and prepared a plan for a new City of London after the fire which included using the rubble to extend the City into the Thames, straighten the shoreline, and create grand buildings along the river-front. Unfortunately, his proposals fell on deaf ears.

Bibliography

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
O'Malley & Wischke (eds.) (1997);
Jane Turner (1996)

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"Evelyn, John." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Evelyn, John

John Evelyn (ēv´əlĬn, ĕv´lĬn), 1620–1706, English diarist and miscellaneous writer. Although of royalist sympathies, he took little active part in the civil war. After 1652 he lived as a wealthy country gentleman at Sayes Court, Deptford, where he cultivated his garden and wrote on various subjects, including reforestation, natural science, the history of art, and numismatics. After the Restoration he became a public servant and was one of the founders of the Royal Society. His best-known work is his lifelong diary, less intimate than that of Pepys, but full of historical information about 17th-century England. It was first published in 1818 (modern ed. by E. S. de Beer, 6 vol., 1955). He is also famous for his Life of Mrs. Godolphin (ed. by Harriet Sampson, 1939).

See biographies by W. Hiscock (1955), A. Ponsonby (1933, repr. 1969), and B. Saunders (1970); F. Harris, Transformations of Love (2003).

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Evelyn, John

Evelyn, John (1620–1706). The second great diarist of his time, although his is less self-revelatory than that of Samuel Pepys. However, it covers a far longer time-span, 1641–1706. Evelyn was a less acute observer and more conventional in his interests and judgements but possessed a wider circle of acquaintances. A fervent royalist, he spent the Civil War years touring in Europe, but after 1660 he was commissioner for sick and wounded in the Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–7 and for the mint, and member of the Council for plantations. Evelyn as a virtuoso or amateur scientist was a founding fellow of the Royal Society. His Sylva (1664) encouraged and educated landowners in forestry, and he wrote a pioneer tract on smoke-abatement for an already smog-enveloped London.

J. R. Jones

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