Plattes, Gabriel (DNB00)

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PLATTES, GABRIEL (fl. 1638), writer on agriculture, said to have been of Dutch extraction, was one of the earliest advocates in England of an improved system of husbandry, and devoted much time and money to practical experiments. In 1639 he stated that he ‘was not necessitated to make begging letters, though not possessed of any great estate’ (Discovery of Infinite Treasure, ep. ded.), but he appears to have been extremely poor, and was relieved by Samuel Hartlib, to whom he left his unpublished papers. His ‘Treatise of Husbandry’ (1638) throws much light on the state of agriculture and the relations of landlord and tenant during the seventeenth century. His later tracts mainly repeat under new titles the information which he first published in his ‘Treatise.’ Though he influenced later writers, he was neglected during his lifetime, and is said to have been found dead in the streets of London during the Commonwealth, in a state of extreme destitution (Hartlib, Legacie, 1651 pp. 125–7, 1652 pp. 87, 88). Besides the works mentioned, he wrote: 1. ‘A Discoverie of Infinite Treasure, hidden since the World's Beginning. Whereunto all men, of what degree soever, are friendly invited to be sharers with the Discoverer, G. P.,’ London, 1639, 4to. This also appeared under the title ‘A Discovery of Subterraneall Treasure, viz., of all manner of mines and minerals … and also the art of melting, refining, and assaying of them,’ London, 1639, 4to; London, 1653, 4to; another edition, with the title ‘A Discovery of Subterranean Treasure, whereunto is added a real experiment whereby every ignorant man … may try whether any piece of gold … be true or counterfeit,’ London, 1679, 4to; reprinted in ‘A Collection of scarce … Treatises upon Metals,’ 1739, 12mo; 1740, 12mo. 2. ‘Observations and Improvements in Husbandry, with twenty Experiments,’ London, 1639, 4to. 3. ‘Recreatio Agriculturæ,’ London, 1640, 1646, 4to. 4. ‘The profitable Intelligencer, communicating his knowledge for the generall good of the Commonwealth and all Posterity, &c.’ [London, 1644], 4to.

[Donaldson's Agricultural Biography, p. 21; Felton's Gardeners' Portraits, London, 1830; Johnson's Hist. of Gardening; Loudon's Encyclopædia of Agriculture, p. 1207; Thorold Rogers's Hist. of Agriculture and Prices, v. 55; Work and Wages, pp. 455–8.]

W. A. S. H.