John Ray, English botanist, 1686.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Frontispiece portrait of the Reverend John Ray (1627-1705), with Britannia 'crowning Ray as the Prince of English botanists' below. Illustration from volume one of Ray's 'Historia plantarum' (The History of Plants), published in London in 1686. Ray has been called the 'father of English natural history'. In this three-volume encyclopaedic work he describes the structure and function of nearly 18,000 plants using a new system he had evolved. English and exotic plants are treated, as well as those of the Americas and the East Indies.