Roger Gaskell Rare Books

Enquire about this Print this

FORSYTH, William (1737–1804)

Observations on the diseases, defects, and injuries in all kinds of fruit and forest trees with an account of a particular method of cure invented and practised by William Forsyth, gardner to His Majesty, at Kensington

London: printed for the author; and sold by G. Nicol, bookseller to His Majesty, Pall-Mall, 1791
8vo: π2 B–E8 F4 χ1, 39 leaves, pp. [4] 71 [3].
Condition: 230 x 145mm, untrimmed. Half-title and and last leaf soiled, titlepage foxed, minor marginal foxing in the rest of the pamphlet, page edges worn.
Binding: Stab-sewn as issued.
First edition. Two Dublin editions were printed in the same year and the work was translated into Danish, German and French.
Bibliography: ESTC T45799.

William Forsyth's first publication. The ‘particular method of cure’ announced in the title was a ‘composition, applied in the manner of a plaister to the wounded or injured part of the tree’. Though this aroused some controversy, it was judged to be successful for the procurement of sound timber for the navy and Forsyth was paid £1500 to reveal the secret. The correspondence with the Land Registry Office regarding the trials and the recipe itself are printed in an appendix. Forsyth's Treatise on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees (1791) became the most popular and enduring fruit book ever published in English.
A native of Aberdeenshire, Forsyth probably served his apprenticeship in the gardens of Lord Aberdeen at Haddo house before going to London to work under Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden. In 1763 he was appointed head gardener at Syon House and in 1784, superintendent of the royal gardens at St James's and Kensington. He played an important part in the establishment of the Horticultural Society in 1804.
Literature: H. Frederic Janson, Pomona's Harvest (1996), pp. 244–252 and 358.