Baker, John Gilbert F.R.S., F.L.S (1834-1920).

John G Baker * was born in Guisborough.    He attended Bootham School  – “the  nursery” of many Quaker naturalists (to quote D E Allen ‘The Botanists’).

He worked in his father’s drapery and grocery business in Thirsk for several years (many of the Baker H@H sheets are from Thirsk and the surrounding area). It was home of the ‘Thirsk Botanical Exchange Club’ for some 8 years (derived from the London Botanical Society). But in 1864, the Baker premises were consumed by fire. The family lost their home and shop, and Baker his botanical library, herbarium specimens and the reports / records of the Thirsk botanical society.

After a stay with William Borrer in Sussex, J D Hooker invited him to take up a position at Kew, so he worked in the herbarium there as initially as First Assistant.

He also acted with Trimen as joint Curator of the London Botanical Exchange Club, and they also edited The Journal of Botany.   He worked at Kew for many years and from 1890 – 99 was Keeper. He published a Flora of Mauritius and the Seychelles, a Flora of the Lake District and a Flora of Northumberland and Durham (?).

Many of his labels on the specimens at H@H have various annotations such as lacustral medapor.  In fact, the latter ‘translates’ to mid-agrarian.  It is part of a system of environmental / habitat classifications associated with H C Watson of ‘vice counties fame’.  Further detail can be found in his Cybele Brittanica. Visit to have a read of the Cybele .

The list below contains some of the terms that were used by Baker (and Watson)

Pratal                Plants of meadow, rich damp grassland
Pascual             Plants of pasture and grassy areas, less luxuriant than above
Ericetal              Plants of Moors and Heaths
Uliginal              Plants of swamps / boggy ground
Lacustral           Plants usually immersed in water or floating on surface
Inundatal           Plants of places liable to be inundated in wet weather, dry in summer
Viatical              Plants of road sides, rubbish heaps, frequented places
Agrestal            Plants of cultivated ground
Glareal              Plants of dry exposed ground
Rupestral          Plants of walls and rocks
Septal               Plants of hedges and hedgebank
Sylvestral          Plants of woods and shaded places
Littoral               Plants of the sea shore

* His son was Edmund Baker, also a botanist.

Information from :-

The botanists. A history of the Botanical Society of the British Isles through a hundred and fifty years. Winchester: St Paul’s Bibliographies, Allen, D. E. 1986.

H C Watson Cybele Britannica (

Sheets at

This entry was posted in 19th Century, Botanists, Quaker Botanists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Baker, John Gilbert F.R.S., F.L.S (1834-1920).

  1. Pingback: Bennett, Alfred William (1833 – 1902) |

  2. Pingback: Borrer, William (1781 – 1862) | Meiosis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

anti-spam * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.