In 2022, the Humphry Marshall 300 Committee celebrates this Chester County native son, an 18th-century botanist who was the first American to publish a book on our native trees and shrubs. A faithful Quaker, Humphry Marshall’s intellect and curiosity drew him to the natural sciences. This interest led him to collect, propagate and send native plants to English and European collectors, making him internationally recognized in his time.
An ad-hoc Humphry Marshall 300 Year Anniversary Committee (HM300), including community volunteers and the Chester County History Center (CCHC), developed ways to commemorate Marshall in 2022. Events noted below are designed to celebrate the man and to educate the public about this explorer of the natural world whose diverse talents contributed to his community.
2022 The Year of Humphry Marshall!
Who was Humphry Marshall?
A Man of Nature who is still significant today.
Humphry Marshall (1722-1801), the namesake of Marshallton, Chester County, was a celebrated botanist and scientist who played a role in vastly expanding America’s international commercial plant trade. As a Quaker, Humphry was not active in the American Revolution, but saw himself as American
and encouraged his fellow colonists to understand and capitalize on the country’s native plants and natural assets. In his lifetime, Marshall was known for his contributions to astronomy, meteorology, agriculture, and natural science. Today, he is best known as the author of Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove (1785), the first publication and catalog of native plants,
shrubs, and trees that was written by an American and published in America.
Humphry Marshall Day October 8, 2022
October 8th will be a daylong celebration, full of activities about Humphry Marshall. This special day, sponsored by the Friends of Martins Tavern with support of West Bradford Township, will be held
in Marshallton, PA on the grounds of Martin’s Tavern and the newly created Humphry Marshall Park.
The full day celebration will include outdoor community events, prominent speakers, Colonial re-enactors, open hearth cooking and tastings, period music, colonial brews, and children’s activities. For kids there will be colonial games and crafts, and a special tree propagation program. Saplings grown from native plant seeds will be part of a future tree planting program West Bradford Township parks.
For more information and updates visit: www.martinstavern.org
2022 Events Celebrating Humphry Marshall’s
Life and Legacy
April 12: West Bradford Township will present a proclamation at the township building declaring it the “Year of Humphry Marshall.”
April 27: Chester County Commissioners proclaim April 30 to be the Humphry Marshall Day.
April 30: Native Seedling/Sapling Trees (Marshall’s native trees) Give-Away at the Chester County History Center in West Chester.
June 9: Kick-off celebration for the summer Chester County Town Tours & Village Walks is focused on Marshall Square Park in West Chester. This park was named in 1849 to honor Humphry Marshall.
July 7: A celebration hosted by the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (PSPA) at the Four Dogs Tavern in Marshallton. Open to PSPA members.
August 18: Walking Tour of Humphry Marshall’s Marshallton Village. Sponsored by the Town Tours & Village Walks.
Oct. 8: Humphry Marshall Day, sponsored by the Friends of Martin’s Tavern in Marshallton and West Bradford Township (see above paragraph for details).
Oct. 9: The Friends of Marshall Square Park (FMSP) will celebrate Humphry’s 300th birthday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. on the park grounds.
Horticultural Speaker Series
This Fall the Chester County History Center is presenting a Series of three talks in a special Humphry
Marshall Horticultural Heritage Speaker Program. The talks will be virtual Zoom presentations. For times and more information, visit mycchc.org.
Sept. 14: Joel Fry, the longtime curator at Bartram’s Gardens will present “Horticultural
Cousins – Bartram and Marshall”
Sept. 28: Ron McColl, the special collections librarian
at West Chester University, who oversees the Darlington collection, will speak
on “Dr. William Darlington – His Herbarium and Memorials”
Oct. 12: Anthony Aiello, Associate Director, Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collections at Longwood Gardens will present a lecture “The Shadow of Humphry Marshall: Delaware Valley Horticulture in the 19th Century.”
More about Humphry Marshall
“Immediately on the Receipt of your Letter, I ordered a Reflecting Telescope for you which was made accordingly. Dr. Fothergill had since desired me to add a Microscope and Thermometer, and will
pay for the whole.’
– Benjamin Franklin to Humphry, March 18, 1770
In his lifetime, Humphry Marshall made his living as a stonemason, farmer, and miller, but eventually became known for his contributions to astronomy, meteorology, agriculture, and the natural sciences.
In 1773, Marshall built a stone house with a hothouse, a botanical laboratory, and an observatory for astronomical studies. He established an arboretum of native trees on the property and the second
botanical garden in the nation (John Bartram, his cousin, had the first). From his home base, Humphry expanded his botanical plant exchange business and increased his overseas contacts. With the help of men like Benjamin Franklin and the English botanist Dr. John Fothergill, they eventually included German, Dutch, Swedish, and Irish plant collectors and scientists. Franklin, then living in London, introduced Marshall’s writings to the Royal Society in London and both men encouraged Marshall’s astronomical and botanical studies by supplying him with books and instruments including the latest telescope and microscope.
Marshall’s scientific work earned him honorary memberships to the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, where he shared his ground-breaking ideas on scientific farming methods. In the years before the American Revolution, Marshall’s correspondence was based on his extensive plant and seed exchanges, which led to further studies and publications. In 1785, he authored his magnum opus, Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove. It is a catalog of American trees and shrubs that followed the Linnaean system of plant classification and was the first publication of its kind.
This book established Marshall’s reputation as an esteemed member of the scientific communities of America and abroad. Marshall’s groundbreaking ideas on native plant propagation, forest conservation, and scientific farming practices also inspired a long-lasting dialogue between 19th-century American and European botanists, plantsmen, and horticulturalists. Today, Marshall’s legacy is remembered by a broad range of groups and with sources such as National Gallery of Art’s online web page “History of Early American Landscape Design.”
Developed by the Humphry Marshall 300 Committee