Turgot, Étienne-François

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(b. Paris, France, 16 June 1721; d. Château of Bons, Calvados, France, 25 December 1788)

botany, agronomy.

An older brother of the famous reformer, the Chevalier Turgot, knight of the Order of Malta and Marquis de Soumont, served briefly as the governor of Guiana (1764–1765). After his retirement from public life in 1765, he devoted himself to agricultural experiments and study, interests which had already led him to introduce the cultivation of exotic crops in Malta and Guiana. Like his friends Malesherbes and Duhamel du Monceau, with whom he corresponded on agricultural subjects, Turgot used a large part of hs land in Normandy for the naturalization of foreign trees and the cultivation of botanical rarities. He also maintained a residence in Paris, where he was able to introduce one of his protégés, Hector Saint-John de Crévecoeur, to other naturalists and agronomists. He was a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences (1765), and a founding member of the Société d’Agriculture de Paris (1761).

Turgot is usually said to have died on 21 October 1789. The date 25 December 1788 adopted here is taken from the announcement in the Journal de Paris (1 January 1789, p. 4).


I. Original Works. Works by Turgot include Mémoire instructif sur la maniére de assembler, de préparer, de conserver, et d’envoyer les diverses curiosités d’histoire naturelle (Paris–Lyons, 1758); and Essai sur les arbres d’ornament, les arbrisseaux, et arbustes depleine terre (Amsterdam–Paris, 1778). The second of these is a partial translation, with added material, of Philip Miller, The Gardener’s Dictionary, 7th ed. (London, 1759; repr. Dublin, 1764).

Turgot wrote several articles in Mémoires de I’Académie royale des sciences, and in Mémoires d’agriculture of the Société Royale d’Agriculture (Paris). Most extant manuscripts are in private collections.

II. Secondary Literature. References to Turgot and his work are found in the eulogies by P.-A.-M. Broussonet, in Mémoires d’agriculture, trimestre d’automne (1789), and the Marquis de Condorcet, in Histoire de l’Académié des sciences, 1789 (1793), 31–38; and in Alfred Lacroix,Notice historique sur les members et correspondents de l’Académie des sciences ayant travaillé dans les colonies francaises de la Guyane et des Antilles de la fin du XVIIe siécle au début du XIXe )Paris, 1932); and Figures de savants, III (Paris, 1932-1938),61–69.

Rhoda Rappaport