Blake, John Bradby (DNB00)

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BLAKE, JOHN BRADBY (1745–1773), naturalist, son of John Blake of Great Parliament Street, Westminster, was born in Great Marlborough Street, London, on 4 Nov. 1745, and received his education at Westminster School. In 1766 he was sent out to China as one of the East India Company’s supercargoes at Canton. There he devoted all his spare time to the advancement of natural science. His plan was to procure the seeds of all the vegetables found in China which are used in medicine, manufactures, or food, or which are in any way serviceable to mankind, and to send to Europe not only such seeds, but also the plants by which they are produced. His idea was that they might be propagated in Great Britain and Ireland, or in some of our colonies. His scheme was attended with success. Cochin-China rice was grown in Jamaica and South Carolina; the tallow-tree prospered in Jamaica, in Carolina, and in other American colonies; and many of the plants the seeds of which he transmitted were raised in several botanical gardens near London. He likewise forwarded to England some specimens of fossils and ores. By attending too closely to these pursuits he contracted a disease, of which he died at Canton on 16 Nov. 1773, when he had just entered the twenty-ninth year of his age.

[Biog. Brit. (Kippis), ii. 359, Annual Reg. xviii. pt. ii. 30-5.]

T. C.