Mark Catesby, FRS

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Mark Catesby, FRS

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Castle Hedingham, Essex, England, United Kingdom
Death: December 1749 (67)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Mark Catesby, of Sudbury and Elizabeth Catesby
Husband of Eizabeth Catesby/Rowland
Father of Mark Catesby and Ann Catesby
Brother of Elizabeth Jekyll Cocke; John Catesby; Jekyll Catesby, I; First Twin Catesby; Second Twin Catesby and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
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About Mark Catesby, FRS

Mark Catesby

Variations of the name – Sketsby

Origin of the name – Northampton, England and all the Catesbys in the 'Dictionary of National Biography may ultimately be traced to this interior section of England and probably had their name originally from the Parish of Catesby. [4]

Birth date – 24 March 1682

Birth Place – Sudbury, Essex, England

Baptism/Christening – 30 Mar 1683, Sudbury, Essex (Source IGI source film number 1472365 and [4])

“…knowing that his mother was from the village of Castle Hedingham about eight miles from Sudbury in Essex, just over the little bordering river Stout, I took occasion to examine the registers of the old Norman church of Saint Nicholas and was glad to find Mark Catesby's birth and baptism there entered in fairly legible form, as follows: "Mark Catesby, son of John Catesby, gent, and Elizabeth, his wife. Baptize -- March 30, Nates (sic) March 24th, 1682." In all probability Mark was born in the village of Castle Hedingham in the house which, it is likely, was built as well as occupied by his grandfather, Nicholas Jekyll. This house is still standing,--a picturesque 17th century type, -- at the southend of the village.” [4]

Date of Death – 23 December 1749

Place of Death – Parish of St. Luke, Old Street, London

Notes on the Death of Mark Catesby

There is an issue over the date of death - see the last paragraph in the source document written by Elsa G Allen PHD.

“…there is a will in the Principal Probate Registry, London, by a Mark Catesby, which gives much evidence of being by the Mark Catesby of this study. The signature appears to be identical with the signature of Mark Catesby's letters, and the sole executor of the will is the brother of its author, Jekyll Catesby, often referred to in Catesby's letters and whom, we recall, Catesby's wife had as the sole executor of her will. From this newly discovered document formerly it was thought Catesby left no will) which I found on my recent trip to England, I learned that Mark Catesby was "goingto the Seas" in the ship 'Portfield' of the East India Company and made his will the 30th day of October,1749,j ust before going on his intended voyage. Upon looking up the log of the ship I found it duly recorded that Mark Catesby departed this life at 3 a.m., April 20, 1750, having died of a fever, and at 8a.m., "amid faint airs and a calm sea, his body was committed to the deep." Not ready to discredit his reported death on December 3 1749, and knowing that Mark Catesby, the naturalist had a son Mark, I thought that this man was his son. This, however is not possible since three years later, in1753, Catesby's wife refers to her son Mark then still alive. In view of this and other baffling findings in the life of Mark Catesby, it will be necessary to delve further into the history of his career both here and in England before we can fully reconstruct the life of this little-known naturalist.” [4]

“We know from the entry in the Parish Register of Saint Nicholas that Catesby was three years younger than his reported age at death, the date of which has been published as December 23, 1749. In Lewis H. Jones's 'Captain Roger Jones of London and Virginia,' Albany, 1891, there is a notice purporting to be an excerpt from a London newspaper as follows: "On Saturday, December 23, 1749, died at his home behind St. Luke's church in Old Street, the truly honest and ingenious and modest Mr. Mark Catesby...... He lived to age of 70 [his proved date of birth makes him only 67 at death], well known to and esteemed by the curious of this and other nations, and died much lamented by his Friends, leaving behind him two children and a widow who has a few copies of his noble work undisposed of." Also, in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' (vol.19, p.573), there is a list of deaths for the year 1749, and we read: "Mr. Mark Catesby, F. R. S., aged 70, author of the Natural History of Carolina, a large and curious work which is the chief support of his widow and two children." “ [4]

Parents John Catesby and Elizabeth Jekyll – married 16 May 1670 “…recorded in Foster's' London Marriage Licenses, 1524-1869': "John Catesby, gentleman, about 28, bachelor, and Elizabeth Jekyll of Castle Hedingham, spinster, 18, her father consents, at St.Andrews, Holborn, or Gray's Inn, or Charter House Chapel, London." There were numerous off spring of this marriage:twin sons recorded in St. Gregory's Chapel, Sudury, 12th September 1675; Elizabeth Catesby who, against her father's wishes, married Dr. William Cocke of Virginia; Jekyll Catesby; John Catesby; and Ann and Mark Catesby. The exact order in which these children were born I have not yet worked out, but Mark and Ann were both of the decade 1680-1690.” [4]

CJB – IGI Search Baptisms in Essex John Catesby – 27 Jan 1670 Jekyll Catesby – 9 May 1672 Mark Catesby – 30 Mar 1683 Elizabeth Catesby – 29 May 1687 From [4] Ann Catesby – 1688 - Sudbury

Father - John Catesby “John Catesby was a magistrate of the town of Sudbury in Suffolk and several times its mayor,-- and a very spirited gentleman and politician he was. He owned considerable property in London in the neighborhood of Fleet Street, as well as several farms, dwellings and other holdings in Suffolk, some of which he left to his son Mark.” [4]

Mother - Elizabeth Jekyll. “Elizabeth was descendant of Thomas Jekyll, born January 21, 1570, antiquary and historian of the Counties of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. There were two rather distinguished sons of this Thomas Jekyll: Thomas Jekyll,a divine,and Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master of the Rolls, knighted in 1700 and a member of the Privy Council, who left part of his private fortune to relieve the national debt. A third son of Thomas Jekyll was Nicholas Jekyll, apparently not known in public life. Nicholas Jekyll was the grandfather of Mark Catesby, and the father of Catesby's mother, Elizabeth Jekyll .”[4]

Marriage – Elizabeth Rowland

Date – 7 May 1747 or 8 Oct 1747

Place - St. George's Chapel in Mayfair.

“Catesby's wife was named Elizabeth,but I have not been able asy et to learn where the marriage is recorded. However the widow's will presents a few facts of interest to us, especiallty that she left two children Mark Catesby and Ann Catesby. A daughter, Elizabeth Rowland, is likewise mentioned in her will and it appears that this person must have been her daughter by a former marriage and therefore a step-daughter to Mark. This gathers new interest for us and might cause confusion in biographical research in the light of a recorded marriage of Mark Catesby to Mrs. Elizabeth Rowland, both of the Parish of St. Luke's, Middlesex, on October 8, 1747, in St. George's Chapelin Mayfair. This was one of the famous churches where marriages were performed without license or publication of banns, and although they were considered clandestine were never the less valid and binding. Be this as it may, the will of Mark Catesby's wife, Elizabeth, presumably his first, who was buried in London, February 18, 1753,establishes the factthat she and Mark Catesby were the parents of two children, Mark and Ann, of whom the mothe’s will speaks as follows: I, Elizabeth Catesby of the Parish of St. Lukes, Old Street, widow, being weak in body but of sound mind and memory, do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say, imprimmis, I will that all my debts and funeral charges be paid. Next, I give to my loving daughter, Elizabeth Rowland, ten pounds. I give to my loving cousin, Jekyll Catesby, a second volume of Mr. Catesby's Natural History, to make his set complete. I give to Martha Arther a guinea as a token of my love -- all rest, residue and remainder of my estate, whatever money, goods, plates, and all that I may be possessed of or entitled unto, I give and desire to my two loving children, Mark Catesby and Ann Catesby, to be equally divided between them, share and share alike, and I appoint my loving cousin, Jekyll Catesby, my sole executor to this my last will and testament. In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 4th day of January 1753. Elizabeth Catesby' Witness: Peter Collinson Mary Arther” [4]

Note "After finishing this two volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands in 1747, Mark married Elizabeth Rowland. They lived in Parish of St. Lukes in Middlesex on Old Street near Fulham Street. He died 23 December 1749 after six months of illness." [2]


Mark Catesby Ann Catesby

Occupation English naturalist/ field naturalist Major contribution in ornithology and in bird illustration.

“Mark Catesby was a man of modest means. On his first trip to England's American colonies (1712-1719), Caresby stayed with his relatives and relied on his own financial resources.1 On his second trip (1722-1726), however, Catesby received support from a number of patrons on both sides of the Atlantic, including in England, The Royal Society's affluent Sloane and eminent botanist William Sherard, and in the colonies, South Carolina's newly appointed royal governor Colonel Francis Nicholson.2 To meet expectations of the Royal Society and to keep his pension, Caresby sent back natural history specimens, some then forwarded to scientists in Paris, Leiden, and Danzig. On his return to London in 1726, Caresby's patronage ceased because he was no longer collecting specimens. To support himself, Catesby worked as a gardener and began to prepare his drawings and notes for publication. Aware of his artistic limitations, he opted for simple flat images of his subjects.3 To lower costs, he prepared his book in parcels of twenty plates, later bound in two volumes as The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands.4” [3]

An electronic version of Mark Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands can be viewed at

Notes, References, Sources/Links, Family Trees etc.






  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 09
  • Catesby, Mark by Robert Hunt
  • CATESBY, MARK (1679?–1749), naturalist, was born, probably in London, about 1679. After studying natural science in London, he raised the means for starting on a voyage to the New World in 1710. After an absence of several years, spent in travelling over a very extensive district, Catesby returned to England in 1719, with a collection of plants, which was reported to have been the most perfect which had ever been brought to this country. This attracted the attention of men of science, especially Sir Hans Sloane and Dr. Sherard. Catesby remained in England for some time arranging and naming his specimens, a considerable number of which passed into the museum of Sir Hans Sloane. With some assistance from Sloane, Catesby again went to America in 1722, and eventually settled in Carolina. He returned to England in 1726, and at once set seriously to work in preparing materials for his large and best known work, ‘Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, with Observations on the Soil, Air, and Water.’ This book was accompanied by a new map, constructed by Catesby, of the districts explored. The first volume was published in 1731 and the second in 1743. There were upwards of 100 plates; all the figures of the plants being drawn and etched by Catesby himself. He also coloured all the first copies, and the tinted copies required were executed under his inspection. After the publication of this work, on 26 April 1733, he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society. A second edition—which was revised by M. Edwards, with an appendix—was issued in 1748. A German translation, with an introduction by ‘M. Edwards du College Royal des Médecins de Londres,’ was published at Nüremberg in 1756. A third edition was required in 1771, to which a Linnæan index was appended. Catesby also produced (in 1737?) ‘Hortus Britanno-Americanus, or a Collection of 85 curious Trees and Shrubs, the production of North America, adapted to the Climate and Soil of Great Britain,’ fol., seventeen engravings. Many trees and shrubs were first introduced by him, and the publication of this volume added considerably to the introduction of American plants.
  • A West Indian genus of shrubs of the order Cinchonaceæ was named Catesbæa after this naturalist.
  • In 1747 Catesby read a paper before the Royal Society ‘On the Migration of Birds,’ which contained much new and striking evidence on the subject.
  • Catesby resided for some time in the Isle of Providence, making a collection of fishes and submarine productions. He published the results of this inquiry in a folio volume, entitled ‘Piscium, Serpentum, Insectorum aliorumque nonnullorum Animalium, nec non Plantarum quarundam, Imagines.’ An edition of this work appeared in Nüremberg, 1777.
  • Catesby died at his house in Old Street, London, on 23 Dec. 1749, aged 70, leaving a widow and two children.
  • [Pulteney's Biog. Sketches of Botany; Drake's Dict. of American Biog., Boston, 1872; Lindley and Moore's Treasury of Botany.]
  • From:,_Mark_(DNB00)


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Mark Catesby, FRS's Timeline

March 24, 1682
Castle Hedingham, Essex, England, United Kingdom
March 30, 1684
Age 2
Sudbury, Suffolk, England
December 1749
Age 67