Centre for History and Philosophy of Science seminar - Dr Anna Marie Roos (Lincoln)

‘Only meer Love to Learning’: A rediscovered travel diary of naturalist and collector James Petiver (c.1665-1718)

This paper analyses a rediscovered diary by James Petiver, recording a journey he made in 1691. During his two-month trip, Petiverleft his home in Kendal, travelled to Yorkshire, and subsequently visited Oxford, Essex, and London to botanize and to view scientific collections. Petiver’s diary represents a nascent early modern form of scientific peregrination – ‘science on the move’ – that was prevalent in England from 1650 to 1750. Not yet formal fieldwork, not as sybaritic as the experience of the Grand Tour, scientific peregrination was a means of developing empirical expertise of naturalia, both artificial and in the field.

My analysis of Petiver’s diary represents a form of humanistic fieldwork, giving insights into the natural history specimens, mode of travel, noted antiquities, and other evidence that allow us to reconstruct the mental world of the early modern virtuoso and scientific collector.  

Location: Baines Wing G36