The Northern Lads: The Migration of Scottish Gardeners with Especial Reference to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Ron McEwen


It is well known that a disproportionate number of plant collectors for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the late 18th and 19th centuries were Scottish gardeners. Another important source of plants for Kew in its early days were the specialist London plant nurseries that were run by Scots. Less well known is the preponderance of Scots found in other areas of Kew’s work – gardeners in charge of the botanic garden, curators of various departments and gardeners who transferred to colonial botanic gardens. This Scottish phenomenon was not unique to Kew: it was found in other botanical and non-botanical institutions in London and the provinces. This paper charts the extent of the phenomenon and, on the basis of 18th- and 19th-century sources, analyses its causes.

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