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Our changing relationship with the natural world, from Tudor to Victorian times

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-92)

Botanical tables : containing the different familys of British plants. Vol. I 1785

RCIN 1123772

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As a young prince, George III was taught by the Earl of Bute, who was passionate about the natural world. Bute was Prime Minister between 1762 and 1763 but after his retirement from politics, he devoted his life to botany and worked on several books. Bute’s Botanical Tables contained a new method to classify plants, as he disagreed with the system introduced by Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus in the 1730s. Only 16 copies were printed, which Bute presented to important women. This is the set presented to Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, and is still stored in the satinwood box that was specially made for it, which is decorated with flowers and bears the queen’s cypher.