Pamplin Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of letters addressed mainly to William Pamplin along with a few other 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 od botanists. Amongst the correspondents are Charles Darwin, Sir William Jackson Hooker and Friedich Martin Jozef Welwitsch.

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

Archivists note :

This catalogue is based on the work published by Mr.Tully, "A calendar of the papers of William Pamplin at the University of Wales, Bangor", Archives of Natural History, 1999, p.p. 299-348. The order in which the correspondence was arranged by Mr.Tully has been kept, with only a few minor changes. Some letters have been transcribed, and in these cases, the transcripts have been kept with the originals.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Pamplin (1806-1899) was a botanist, botanical publisher, bookseller and agent for 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, Meirionethshire (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.

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