Buxton, Richard (DNB00)

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BUXTON, RICHARD (1786–1865), botanist, was born at Sedgley Hall Farm, Prestwich, on 15 Jan. 1786. His father, John Buxton, was a farmer, and both parents were from Derbyshire. Richard was the second son of a family of seven, but his father, reduced to giving up his farm within two years of his son's birth, came to live in Manchester as a labourer. As a child his education was almost entirely neglected, but his chief amusement was picking wild flowers in the fields and brickyards near Great Ancoats. At twelve he was apprenticed to a bat-maker—that is, a manufacturer of children's small leather shoes. When sixteen he determined to teach himself to read, and did so. Among his books he numbered some of the old herbalists, but found their indications quite inadequate to find out plant-names. He then fell in with Jenkinson's Flora, also Robson's, and the first edition of Withering. For several years he plodded on, without making any botanical friends; but in 1826 he encountered a kindred spirit in the person of John Horsefield, another of the keen Lancashire working-men botanists, who introduced Buxton to their meetings. He afterwards botanised in Derbyshire, North Wales, and the Craven district of Yorkshire. When his ‘Botanical Guide’ was published, and for many years afterwards, he was living unmarried with a sister in Manchester, where he died on 2 Jan. 1865. He published only one book, entitled ‘Botanical Guide to the Flowering Plants, Ferns, Mosses, and Algæ found … within 16 miles of Manchester,’ Lond. 1849 (2nd ed. 1859); but he is frequently cited by Dr. Wood in his ‘Flora Mancuniensis’ as the authority for many localities of the rarer plants.

[Autobiography in Guide, iii–xv; Cash's Where there's a Will, 94–107; Seemann's Journ. Bot. iii. (1865), 71–2.]

B. D. J.