Sir Joseph Banks, British botanist

Sir Joseph Banks, British botanist

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Caption: Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), British naturalist. Banks was born into a wealthy London family. He was educated at Harrow and Eton, then went up to Oxford after a bout of smallpox delayed his education. On his father's death he inherited a considerable estate and influence through his friendships with many of the learned men of the day. In 1768 he joined HM Bark Endeavour under James Cook, and on his return three years immediately became famous by virtue of the many new discoveries the expedition brought back. Among these were 1300 plant species, and an entire genus (Banksia) bears his name. He was a proponent of the settlement of New South Wales in Australia, including the use of Botany Bay as a penal colony. In 1778 he was elected President of the Royal Society, a post he held for 41 years.

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