Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/222

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Aiton
Akenside
208

born at Silverwood, Kilmarnock, in 1760, a neighbourhood which he left in 1785 to go to Strathaven, Lanarkshire, where he practised for many years as a law agent. He next went to Hamilton, where he held office as one of the sheriff-substitutes of the county from 1816 up to 1822. He died in 1848. At no period did his income exceed a hundred a year, and yet out of this, with a family of twelve children, he educated four sons for liberal professions, often sending them his last guinea when they were students at college. His works are:

  1. ‘A Treatise on Moss-earth,’ Ayr, 1811.
  2. ‘General View of the Agriculture of the County of Ayr,’ Glasgow, 1811.
  3. ‘General View of the Agriculture of the County of Bute,’ Glasgow, 1816.
  4. ‘A History of the Rencounter at Drumclog and Battle at Bothwell Bridge,’ Hamilton, 1821.
  5. ‘An Inquiry into the Pedigree of the Hamilton Family,’ Glasgow, 1827.
  6. ‘Inquiry into the House of Aiton in Scotland,’ Hamilton, 1830.

[Inquiry into the Origin and Pedigree of the Family of Aitons in Scotland; Catalogue of Library of Faculty of Advocates.]

T. J.

AITON, WILLIAM TOWNSEND (1766–1849), botanist, the eldest son of William Aiton [see Aiton, William, 1731–1793], was born at Kew, 2 Feb. 1766. He was educated at Chiswick and Camberwell. At the age of sixteen he became assistant to his father, and attained some distinction as a landscape gardener, in which capacity he was employed by many of the nobility. On the death of his father in 1793 he was appointed to succeed him in the royal gardens at Kew and Richmond. He was much esteemed by George III and the royal family, and kept up a confidential correspondence with the Duke of Kent until the time of his death. On the accession of George IV Mr. Aiton was charged with the arrangement of the garden at the Pavilion at Brighton, as well as with many extensive and important alterations at Windsor. Many changes having taken place in the establishments of the royal gardens, he retired shortly after the accession of William IV to the charge of the Kew Botanic Garden and Pleasure Grounds, a post which he voluntarily resigned in 1841, still, however, living at Kew, but passing much of his time with his brother at Kensington; and it was at Kensington that he died on 9 Oct. 1849, being buried at Kew. In 1810–13 Mr. Aiton published a second and much-enlarged edition of his father's ‘Hortus Kewensis,’ in five volumes. In this he received a continuance of the help given to his father by Sir Joseph Banks and Dryander, while the latter volumes owe their scientific value to Robert Brown, who succeeded Dryander as curator of the Banksian herbarium. A useful epitome of this work, in one volume, was published in 1814. Owing, however, to the impossibility of keeping pace with the very rapid increase in the number of species brought into cultivation, neither of these works attained anything like the sale of the original edition. Mr. Aiton was one of the founders and an active fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. To its ‘Transactions’ he contributed a paper on the cultivation of the cucumber, for which a silver medal was awarded him in 1817. A lithographed portrait by L. Poyot is in existence.

[Proceedings of Linnean Society, ii. 82–3; Postscript to 2nd ed. of Hortus Kewensis, v. 531–2.]

J. B.

AKENSIDE, MARK (1721–1770), poet and physician, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 9 Nov. 1721. His father was a respectable butcher, named also Mark Akenside, and his mother's maiden name had been Mary Lumsden. On both sides he descended from Northumbrian presbyterians of the lower middle class. He was baptised on 30 Nov. by the Rev. Benjamin Bennet, a dissenting divine of some note, who ministered in the new meeting-house at Newcastle. He was the second son of his parents, who had been married for nearly twelve years. When Akenside was seven years old, he was playing in his father's shop, when the butcher's cleaver fell on his foot, and so wounded him that he halted for the rest of his life. He was educated first at the free school of his native town, and then at a private academy, also in Newcastle, kept by a dissenting minister of the name of Wilson. In his sixteenth year (23 April 1737) he sent up a poem, without any introduction, to the leading periodical of the day, the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’ It was entitled ‘The Virtuoso,’ and was written in imitation of Spenser, in the Spenserian measure. The piece consists of only ten stanzas, but they show a remarkable skill in versification, and appear to have preceded the longer and better known pieces by Shenstone, Thomson, and Gilbert Ridley, which soon afterwards made the Spenserian stanza fashionable. Akenside was singularly precocious as a poet. After this first success he continued, while yet a youth, to be a frequent contributor to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ and in 1738, at the age of seventeen, he began the poem by which he is best remembered, ‘The Pleasures of Imagination.’ It was during a visit to Morpeth that, as he says, within hearing of ‘the mossy falls of