Pamplin Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Pamplin Papers consists of letters addressed to William Pamplin and a few other individuals, along with some miscellaneous items dating from 1806-1886. There are well over 200 correspondents, nearly all of them eminent botanists of the day, British and foreign. The letters are mostly written in English with a number in French and German and a many deal only with business details. However, some are of great historical interest because they throw light on botanical activities in a period when the exploration of the flora of little known plants of the world was one of the main interests of botanists. Amongst the correspondents are Charles Darwin, Sir William Jackson Hooker and Friedrich Martin Jozef Welwitsch.

Included also are the working papers of Mr Tully, such as the queries he received and his index cards which could be of great use to the researcher. These indices contain the names of botanists and of the plants mentioned within the correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Pamplin (1806-1899), botanist, botanical publisher, bookseller and agent for the exchange and distribution of seeds, plants and herbarium specimens, was a central figure among nineteenth-century botanists. Born in Chelsea, the son of a nurseryman, Pamplin had a lifelong interest in plants. In 1827 he published a Catalogue of the rarer indigenous plants of Battersea and Clapham and in 1830, while still an assistant at his father's nursery he was elected a member of the Linnean Society. His acquaintance with continental botanists was largely due to his connection with John Hunnemann whose Soho bookselling business he took over and whose daughter, Caroline, became his first wife.

In 1854 Pamplin became owner of The Phytologist, having bought the title from Edward Newman, and installed his long-time field companion, Alexander Irvine, as editor.

Pamplin made botanical tours in Perthshire, 1856, and North Wales, 1854, with Alexander Irvine and again in North Wales with Thomas Shearman Ralph in 1856 and 1857. In 1862 Pamplin settled in Llandderfel, Merionethshire (now Gwynedd), where he formed a herbarium of plants of the district, part of which is now in the Department of Plant Sciences, Oxford University, and attempted to establish a Central Botanical Garden for North Wales. Pamplin died in Llandderfel in 1899.


Arranged according to correspondent and them chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all users.

Acquisition Information

In the 1990's the papers were transferred to the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor by Mr Tully.


Description compiled by Elen Wyn Hughes, March 2003.

Other Finding Aids

An item level typescript catalogue is available at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor. The catalogue is based on the work published by Mr Ian Tully in the Archives of Natural History, 1999.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright conditions apply. Reprographics are made at the discretion of the Archivist.

Custodial History

Professor Reginald William Phillips of the University College of North Wales, an acquaintance of William Pamplin, acquired these papers for the Department of Botany. Years passed, and they came into the possession of Ian Tully, Deputy Librarian of the University, who produced a catalogue of the collection which was published in the Archives of Natural History, 1999.


Tully, Ian, A calendar of the papers of William Pamplin at the University of Wales, Bangor,Archives of Natural History, 1999