Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Worlidge, John

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WORLIDGE or WOOLRIDGE, JOHN (fl. 1669−1698), agricultural writer, who resided at Petersfield, Hampshire, is of interest in the history of agricultural literature as the compiler of the first systematic treatise on husbandry on a large and comprehensive scale. He was a correspondent of John Houghton [q. v.], who gives in his ‘Letters’ (1681) two contributions by ‘the ingenious Mr. John Worlidge of Petersfield in Hampshire,’ on ‘a great improvement of land by parsley,’ and on ‘improving and fyning of Syder.’

Worlidge's ‘Systema Agriculturæ, or the Mystery of Husbandry discovered … by J. W., Gent.,’ first published in 1669, went through a number of editions (1675, 1681, 1687, 1716) before it was supplanted in popular favour by the numerous agricultural reference books which are a feature of the eighteenth century. He appears to have carefully studied the writings of his predecessors, Fitzherbert, Sir Richard Weston, Robert Child, Walter Blith, Gabriel Plattes, Sir Hugh Plat [q. v.], and the anonymous writers whose works were published by Samuel Hartlib [q. v.] Worlidge's system of husbandry may be regarded as gathering into a focus the scattered information published during the period of the Commonwealth.

Besides the ‘Systema Agriculturæ,’' Worlidge wrote (mostly under the initials of ‘J. W., Gent.’) the following: 1. ‘Vinetum Britannicum, or a Treatise of Cider,’ 1676; 2nd edit. 1678; 3rd edit. 1691, dedicated to Elias Ashmole. 2. ‘Apiarium, or a Discourse of Bees,’ 1676. 3. ‘Systema Horticulture, or the Art of Gardening,’ 1677. 4. ‘The most easie Method of Making the best Cyder,’' 1687. 5. ‘The Complete Bee Master’ (a revised edition of No. 2), 1698.

[Houghton's Letters, 1681, pp. 136, 163; Cuthbert Johnson's Farmer's Cyclopædia, p. 1311; Worlidge's works cited above; Brit. Mus. s.v. ‘J. W., Gent.’]

E. C.-E.