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John Evelyn (1620) Options
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John Evelyn (1620)

From 1631 until his death in 1706, Evelyn kept a diary that is today an invaluable source of information on 17th-century British social, cultural, and political life. He corresponded frequently with Samuel Pepys, another now-famous diarist of the time. Living as a wealthy country gentleman in Deptford, he wrote about 30 books on various subjects including reforestation, vegetarianism, and numismatics. In 1661, he wrote the Fumifugium, believed to be the first book written on what topic? More...
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John Evelyn (1620)
From 1631 until his death in 1706, Evelyn kept a diary that is today an invaluable source of information on 17th-century British social, cultural, and political life. He corresponded frequently with Samuel Pepys, another now-famous diarist of the time. Living as a wealthy country gentleman in Deptford, he wrote about 30 books on various subjects including reforestation, vegetarianism, and numismatics.
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John Evelyn
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Related to John Evelyn: Samuel Pepys
John Evelyn
Portrait of John Evelyn by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1687

John Evelyn (31 October 1620 – 27 February 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diarist.

Evelyn's diaries or Memoirs are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time (he witnessed the deaths of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, the last Great Plague of London, and the Great Fire of London in 1666). Over the years, Evelyn’s Diary has been over-shadowed by Pepys's chronicles of 17th-century life.[1] Evelyn and Pepys corresponded frequently and much of this correspondence has been preserved.
Biography
Detail of a Portrait of John Evelyn by Hendrik van der Borcht II, 1641.

Born into a family whose wealth was largely founded on gunpowder production, John Evelyn was born in Wotton, Surrey, and grew up in the Sussex town of Lewes. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and at the Middle Temple. While in London, he witnessed important events such as the execution of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Having briefly joined the Royalist army, he went abroad to avoid further involvement in the English Civil War. He travelled in Italy, attending anatomy lectures in Padua in 1646 and sending the Evelyn Tables back to London. In 1644, Evelyn visited the English College at Rome, where Catholic priests were trained for service in England. In the Veneto he renewed his acquaintance with the Collector Earl of Arundel and toured the art collections of Venice with Arundel's son and heir. He acquired an ancient Egyptian stela and sent a sketch back to Rome which was published by Athanasius Kircher in his Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1650), though to Evelyn's annoyance, without acknowledgement to him [2]

He married Mary Browne, daughter of Sir Richard Browne the English ambassador in Paris in 1647.[3]

In 1652, Evelyn and his wife settled in Deptford (now in south-east London). Their house, Sayes Court (adjacent to the naval dockyard), was purchased by Evelyn from his father-in-law Sir Richard Browne in 1653 and Evelyn soon began to transform the gardens. In 1671, he encountered master wood-worker Grinling Gibbons (who was renting a cottage on the Sayes Court estate) and introduced him to Sir Christopher Wren. There is now an electoral ward called Evelyn in the Deptford area of the London Borough of Lewisham.

It was after the Restoration that Evelyn's career really took off. In 1660, Evelyn was a member of the group that founded the Royal Society. The following year, he wrote the Fumifugium (or The Inconveniencie of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated), the first book written on the growing air pollution problem in London.
The title page of the second edition of Sylva, dated 1670 although according to his Diary Evelyn presented the new edition in 1669.
Evelyn's motto written in a book he bought in Paris in 1651. Keep what is better

He was known for his knowledge of trees, and had a friend and correspondent, Philip Dumaresq, who "devoted most of his time to gardening, fruit, and tree culture."[4] Evelyn's treatise Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees (1664) was written as an encouragement to landowners to plant trees to provide timber for England's burgeoning navy. Further editions appeared in his lifetime (1670 and 1679), with the fourth edition (1706) appearing just after his death and featuring the engraving of Evelyn shown on this page (below) even though it had been made more than 50 years prior by Robert Nanteuil in 1651 in Paris. Various other editions appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries and feature an inaccurate portrait of Evelyn made by Francesco Bartolozzi.

During the Second Anglo-Dutch War, beginning 28 October 1664, Evelyn served as one of four Commissioners for taking Care of Sick and Wounded Seamen and for the Care and Treatment of Prisoners of War. (The others were Sir William D'Oyly, Sir Thomas Clifford and Col. Bullen Reymes.)

Following the Great Fire in 1666, closely described in his diaries, Evelyn presented one of several plans (Christopher Wren produced another) for the rebuilding of London, all of which were roundly ignored by Charles II. He took an interest in the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral by Wren (with Gibbons' artistry a notable addition). Evelyn's interest in gardens even led him to design pleasure gardens, such as those at Euston Hall.

Evelyn was a prolific author and produced books on subjects as diverse as theology, numismatics, politics, horticulture, architecture and vegetarianism, and he cultivated links with contemporaries across the spectrum of Stuart political and cultural life. In September 1671 he travelled with the Royal court of Charles II to Norwich where he called upon Sir Thomas Browne. Like Browne and Pepys, Evelyn was a lifelong bibliophile, and by his death his library is known to have comprised 3,859 books and 822 pamphlets. Many were uniformly bound in a French taste and bear his motto Omnia explorate; meliora retinete ("explore everything; keep the best") from I Thessalonians 5, 21.

His daughter Maria Evelyn (1665–1685) is sometimes acknowledged as the pseudonymous author of the book Mundus Muliebris of 1690. Mundus Muliebris: or, The Ladies Dressing Room Unlock'd and Her Toilette Spread. In Burlesque. Together with the Fop-Dictionary, Compiled for the Use of the Fair Sex is a satirical guide in verse to Francophile fashion and terminology, and its authorship is often jointly credited to John Evelyn, who seems to have edited the work for press after his daughter's death.

In 1694 Evelyn moved back to Wotton, Surrey, because his elder brother George had no living sons available to inherit the estate. Evelyn inherited the estate and the family seat Wotton House on the death of his brother in 1699.[5] Sayes Court was made available for rent. Its most notable tenant was Russian tsar Peter the Great who lived there for three months in 1698 (and did great damage to both house and grounds). The house no longer exists, but a public park of the same name can be found off Evelyn Street.

Evelyn died in 1706 at his house in Dover Street, London. Wotton House and estate were inherited by his grandson John (1682–1763) later Sir John Evelyn, bart.

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