* Thomas Willisel was a Northamptonshire man (Lancashire — J. Ray), a very poor fellow, and was a foot soldier in ye army of Oliver Cromwell. Lying at St. James’s (a garrison then I thinke), he happened to go along with some simplers. He liked it so well that he desired to goe with them as often as they went, and tooke such a fancy to it that in a short time he became a good botanist. He was a lusty fellow, and had an admirable sight, which is of great use for a simpler; was as hardy as a Highlander; all the clothes on his back not worth ten groates, an excellent marksman, and would maintain himselfe with his dog and his gun, and his fishing-line. The botanists of London did much encourage him, and employed (sent) him all over England, Scotland, and good part of Ireland, if not all; where he made brave discoveries, for which his name will ever be remembred in herballs. If he saw a strange fowle or bird, or a fish, he would have it and case it. When ye Lord John Vaughan, now Earle of Carbery, was made Governour of Jamaica, 167-, I did recommend him to his Excellency, who made him his gardiner there. He dyed within a yeare after his being there, but had made a fine collection of plants and shells, which the Earle of Carbery hath by him; and had he lived he would have given the world an account of the plants, animals, and fishes of that island. He could write a hand indifferent legible, and had made himself master of all the Latine names: he pourtrayed but untowardly. All the profession he had was to make pegges for shoes.
Sir William Petty surveyed the kingdome of Ireland geographically, by those that knew not what they did. Why were it impossible to procure a botanique survey of Wiltshire by apothecaries of severall quarters of the county? Their profession leadeth them to an acquaintance of herbes, and the taske being divided, would not be very troublesome; and, besides the pleasure, would be of great use. The apothecaries of Highworth, Malmesbury, Calne, and Bath (which is within three miles of Wilts) might give an account of the northern part of Wiltshire, which abounds with rare simples: the apothecaries of Warminster, the Devises, and Marleborough, the midland part; and the apothecaries of Salisbury the south part, towards the New Forest.
Mr. Hayward, the apothecary of Calne, is an ingenious person and a good botanist; and there-about is great variety of earths and plants. He is my friend, and eagerly espouses this designe. He was bred in Salisbury, and hath an interest with the apothecaries there, and very likely at Bath also. I had a good interest with two very able apothecaries in Salisbury: Hen. Denny (Mr. Hayward’s master), and Mr. Eires; but they are not long since dead. But Mr. Andrewes, on the ditch there, hath assured a friend of mine, Robt. Good, M.A. that he will preserve the herbes the herbe-women shall bring him, for my use.
If such an inventory were made it would sett our countrey-men a worke, to make ’em love this knowledge, and to make additions.