Turner, William

d. 1568

A New Herball: Wherein are Conteyned the Names of Herbes in Greke, Latin, Englysh, Duch Frenche, and in the Potecaries and Herbaries Latin, with the Properties Degrees and Naturall Places of the Same.

London: Imprinted at London by Steven Mierdman: and they are to be solde in Paules Churchyarde, anno 1551. Colophon: Imprinted at London by Steven Myerdman and they are to be soolde in Paules churchyarde at the sygne of the Sprede Egle by John Gybken. References: STC 24365; Hunt 65. Includes index. T.p. wanting; supplied in facsimile. Leaf G1 and leaf G6 tipped in; supplied from another copy? With: Turner, William. The Seconde Part of William Turner's Herball. Cologne: Imprinted at Collen by Arnold Birckman, in the yeare of our Lorde 1562; --Brunschwig, Hieronymus. A Most Excellent and Perfecte Homish Apothecary. Cologne: Imprinted at Collen by Arnold Birckman, in the yeare of our Lord 1561.

William Turner is often called the Father of English Botany, because his was the first original botanical work in English to have a scientific basis.  All previous English botanical works were based on European plants exclusively.  To remedy this, Turner's first publication in 1538, Libellus de re herbaria novus (The New Little Book about Plants) described plants from Northumberland which had never before been mentioned in any botanical texts.  Because Turner refused to accept the teachings of the Church of England and became a vocal spokesman for the Reformation, he was jailed for two years.  Later he was exiled to the Continent and all his published works were destroyed.  He made the most of his time spent in exile, meeting with botanists in Europe as he travelled, and gathering botanical specimens.  Following the death of Henry VIII he returned to England and was appointed physician and chaplain to the Lord Protector Edward Duke of Somerset.  He published the first part of his herbal in 1551, dedicating it to the Duke.  When Edward VI died, Mary I, a Catholic, became Queen.  She had no tolerance for those sympathetic to the Reformation and once again Turner's books were banned.  As a result, complete copies of the first part of Turner's New Herball, issued separately, are almost never found; most of them were destroyed.  When Turner was exiled again, he continued his study of European plants while preparing the second part of his herbal.  After five years in exile he was once again able to return to the English court.  He published the second part of his herbal in Cologne, in 1562, rather than in England, partly because he no longer trusted the English, and partly because Birckman, his publisher in Cologne, had access to the woodcuts used by Fuchs.  Turner finished part three of his herbal only a few months before his death in 1568.  Turner describes more than 200 species native to England, thereby adding plants "whereof is no mention made neither of ye old Grecianes nor Latines."  The arrangement of the herbal is alphabetical, under each plant's Latin name, without any attempt to show relationships.

Subjects: Botany--Pre-Linnean works; Medicinal plants.


Next Title
Previous Title
Author Listing
Title Listing
Home Page