1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Paxton, Sir Joseph
PAXTON, SIR JOSEPH (1801–1865), English architect and ornamental gardener, was born of humble parents at Milton Bryant, near Woburn, Bedfordshire, on the 3rd of August 1801, and was educated at the grammar school of that town. Having served his apprenticeship as gardener from the age of fifteen, and himself constructed a large lake when gardener to Battlesden in 1821, he was in 1823 employed in the arboretum at Chiswick, the seat of the duke of Devonshire, and eventually became superintendent of the duke's gardens and grounds at Chatsworth, and manager of his Derbyshire estates. In 1836 he began to erect a grand conservatory 300 ft. in length, which was finished in 1840, and formed the model for the Great Exhibition building of 1851. In this year Paxton received the honour of knighthood. Perhaps his most interesting design was that for the mansion of Baron James de Rothschild at Ferrieres in France, but he designed many other important buildings. His versatility was shown in his organization of the Army Works Corps which served in the Crimea, his excellent capacity as a man of business in railway management, and his enterprising experiments in floriculture. In 1854 he was chosen M.P. for Coventry, which he continued to represent in the Liberal interest till his death at Sydenham on the 8th of June 1865. Paxton was elected in 1826 a fellow of the Horticultural Society. In the following year he married Sarah Bown. In 1833 he became a fellow of the Linnean Society, and in 1844 he was made a knight of the order of St Vladimir by the emperor of Russia.
He was the author of several contributions to the literature of horticulture, including a Practical Treatise on the Culture of the Dahlia (1838), and a Pocket Botanical Dictionary (1st ed., 1840). He also edited the Cottage Calendar, the Horticultural Register and the Botanical Magazine.