Marcus Catesby1682 - 1749
Born: 1682, Sudbury, Suffolk, England
Died: 1749, London, England
Marcus Catesby was born in 1682, and grew up in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. Best known for his book The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, Catesby first visited America in 1712, where his sister Elizabeth and her husband, Dr. William Cocke, had sailed to Virginia in 1700. While visiting his sister, he met William Byrd II, with whom he stayed for three weeks assisting in Byrd's gardens and studying natural history. Following this, Catesby remained in Virginia for seven years, returning to England in 1719. Upon his return, William Sherard and other natural historians convinced Catesby to complete the project John Lawson and James Petiver had begun in compiling a complete natural history of America. Later, in 1722, he returned to America under the sponsorship of the Royal Society of London and Colonel Francis Nicholson, the governor of South Carolina, to study the state's natural wonders. Before returning to England again in 1726, Catesby lived in the Bahamas for a year.
After completing his extensive travels, Catesby spent the next twenty years putting together his book, Natural History. Due to financial reasons Catesby would make many of the engravings for the book himself, having learned the techniques from French engraver Joseph Goupy. Natural History was sold in eleven, twenty-plate installments (1729-1747) and contained 220 plates of birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, quadrupeds, and plants. Shortly before his death in 1749, he married widow Elizabeth Rowland, who sold the few remaining unsold plates from his book when he passed away at age 67 in London.