Sir Joseph Banks

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Sir Joseph Banks

Birthplace: Argyll Street, Westminster, London, England (United Kingdom)
Death: June 19, 1820 (77)
Spring Grove House, Isleworth, London, England (United Kingdom)
Immediate Family:

Son of William Hodgkinson Banks and Sarah Bate
Husband of Lady Dorothea Hugessen Banks
Brother of Sarah Sophia Banks

Occupation: English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Joseph Banks

Sir Joseph Banks

1st Baronet, GCB, PRS

Birth date: 13th Feb 1743 CJB: This is the date quoted in sources online; however, see Baptism entry below. Were there perhaps two children named Joseph born to this couple?

“was born on 13 February 1743 (2 February, O.S.) at Westminster, England” [3] CJB What does O.S. mean?

Birth Place: Argyll Street, London, England

Baptism: ( have a baptism – England and Wales Christening Records 1530-1906 Joseph Banks born 2 Feb 1742, Bapt. 26 Feb 1742 Westminster, London, England; Father William Banks, Mother Sarah; Source Citation: Place: Westminster, London, England; Collection: St James; -; Date Range: 1723 - 1786; Film Number: 1042308.)

Date of Death: 19 June 1820

Place of Death: Spring Grove House, Isleworth, London, England

Burial: St. Leonard’s Church, Heston

Honours and Awards:

He was made a baronet in 1781, and in 1795 received the order of Knight Commander of the Bath. In 1783 he was admitted to the privy council. In 1793 the Banks Islands, a volcanic group of islands near Vanuatu in the Pacific, were named after him. These were explored and named by Captain Bligh: Banks had helped arrange a previous expedition of Bligh's on HMS Bounty, which had ended in the famous mutiny.

The tribute to Banks in Lincoln Cathedral reads ‘wide as the world is, traces of you are to be found in every corner’. [4]


Father: William Hodgkinson-Banks (1719-1761), a wealthy Lincolnshire country squire and member of the House of Commons. Banks’ paternal grandmother, Anne, had been the heiress of William Hodgkinson, a wealthy merchant and mine owner from Overton Hall, near Ashover.

Mother: Sarah Bate (1720-1804), daughter of William Bate. She was originally from Foston, Derbyshire.

Marriage: Dorothea Hugesson (c. 1758-1828) Daughter of William Western Hugesson and Martha Gott. Note that there are some online sources suggesting that her mother was Thomasine Honeywood (I.G.I. database tree and Tayes FT)

nn Gott is the name given at the Western Pedigree and further searching found her baptism on Ancestry. Further proof is needed.

Marriage Date: 29 Mar 1779 St. Andrew Holborn

Before sailing with Cook, Banks's name had been linked with that of Harriet Blosset.. [3]

Joseph Banks Esquire of the Parish of Saint Ann Westminster in the County of Middlesex, Batchelor and Dorothea Hugesson of the Parish of Saint Andrew Holborn in the same County Spinster, a minor, were married in this Church by Licence by and with the consent of by Francis Filmer Esquire the surviving Guardian of the said Mino, appointed by the last will and testament of William Western Hugessen Esquire deceased whilst being the natural and lawful Father of the said Minor on the Twenty third Day of March in the Year One Thousand seveb Hundred and Seventy Nine, by me Edw’d Filmer Minister. This marriage was solemnized Between Mr. Jos. Banks Dorothea Hugesson((Both signed) in the presence of Mr. F. Filmer. S.S. Banks

(CJB Transcribed from image of original entry

Children: According to the L.A. Gilbert (1966). “Banks, Sir Joseph (1743-1820)” Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1. MUP. pp. 52-55. [1] “Lady Banks survived him, but there were no children.”

Occupation: English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.


Educated at Harrow School from the age of 9, and at Eton College from 1756; his fellow students included Constantine John Phipps.

He took part in Captain James Cook's first great voyage (1768–1771). Banks is credited with the introduction to the Western world of eucalyptus, acacia, mimosa, and the genus named after him, Banksia. Approximately 80 species of plants bear Banks's name. Banks was also the leading founder of the African Association, a British organization dedicated to the exploration of Africa, and a member of the Society of Dilettanti, which helped to establish the Royal Academy.

As a boy Banks enjoyed exploring the Lincolnshire countryside, and developed a keen interest in nature, history and botany. When he was 17 he was inoculated with smallpox, but he became ill and did not return to school. In late 1760 he was enrolled as a gentleman-commoner at Oxford University. At Oxford he matriculated at Christ Church, where his studies were largely focused on natural history rather than the classical curriculum. Determined to receive botanical instruction, he paid the Cambridge botanist Israel Lyons to deliver a series of lectures at Oxford in 1764. Banks left Oxford for Chelsea in December 1763. He continued to attend the university until 1764, but left that year without taking a degree.

When his father died on 23 Sept. 1761 Banks was placed under the joint guardianship of his mother and his uncle, Robert Banks-Hodgkinson. When he turned 21 he inherited the impressive estate of Revesby Abbey, in Lincolnshire, becoming the local squire and magistrate, and sharing his time between Lincolnshire and London. From his mother's home in Chelsea he kept up his interest in science by attending the Chelsea Physic Garden of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and the British Museum, where he met Daniel Solander (see note 3). He began to make friends among the scientific men of his day and to correspond with Carl Linnaeus (see note 2), whom he came to know through Solander. As Banks's influence increased, he became an adviser to King George III and urged the monarch to support voyages of discovery to new lands, hoping to indulge his own interest in botany.

He organised the introduction of the first sheep into Australia.

He served as a Trustee of the British Museum for 42 years [1]

Banks' health began to fail early in the 19th century. After 1805 he practically lost the use of his legs and had to be wheeled to his meetings in a chair. His mind remained as vigorous as ever. He had been a member of the Society of Antiquaries nearly all his life, and he developed an interest in archaeology in his later years. He was made an honorary founding member of the Wernerian Natural History Society of Edinburgh in 1808.

He resigned as president of the Royal Society in May 1820, but withdrew it at the request of the council.

His natural history collections were instrumental in founding the Natural History Museum. [4]


1766: Accompanied Phipps to Newfoundland and Labrador to study their natural History. He returned with many plant and insect specimens. He was only 23 years old.

1768-1771: Scientific expedition to the South Pacific Ocean on HM Bark Endeavour (1st of James Cook’s voyages in that region), circumnavigating the globe visiting South America, Tahiti, New Zealand, East Coast of Australia (Botany Bay) and Java. He used his own money to join this expedition - suppling an estimated £10,000 of his own money to equip the expedition. See [2] for excellent details about this expedition.)

1771- Isle of Wight, Western Islands of Scotland and Iceland with Daniel Solander aboard Sir lawrence. 1773 – South Wales

Altjhough he did not participate in any further travels he was involved in promoting most of the expeditions of his day - 1787-1789 - Bounty voyage under William Bligh, and Bligh’s later voyage in HMS Providence 1800-1805 - Matthew Flinders’s circumnavigation of Australia

Publications; writings; papers: Banks did not publish much. He wrote many papers – some are at the State Library of New South Wales

Many of his Journals, letters and papers have been published in recent years. Published the first Linnean descriptions of the plants and animals of Newfoundland and Labrador.[1]

The Joseph Banks’ Florilegium … A Flowering of Science: Plants from Captain Cook’s First Voyage

With a team of 25 master engravers over thirteen years, Banks oversaw the production of copper plates to stand testimony to the plant collection from the 1768-1771 expedition with Cook. They were not published at the time or during the next 200 years; they constitute the only collection of line engravings in the world of this quality. This output has been lovingly printed for the first time using the 17th Century a la poupee technique requiring ‘as much care and artistry as any monk in a medieval scriptorium’. See

Other Notes:

The family home at Revesby Abbey, Lincolnshire, was bought in 1714 by his great-grandfather, Joseph Banks 'the first' (1665-1727) who, like his grandfather, Joseph 'the second' (1696-1741), and father, William, entered parliament. [3]

( Biography Database, 1680-1830. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England: Avero Publications, 1998.

Name: Joseph Banks

Dates: 1776-1800

Location: London

Title: Esq.

Address: Soho Square

Societies/Clubs: Royal Society, Fellow

Source date: 1778

Source info: Subscribed to an inquiry into the original state and formation of the Earth ... to which is added an Appendix containing some general observations on the strata in Derbyshire, 1778, WHITEHURST, John. London
Subject: science/technology

Name: Joseph Banks

Dates: 1776-1800

Location: London

Title: Baronet, Sir, President of the Royal Society

Address: London

Office Holdings: President of the Royal Society

Source Date: 1792

Source Info: Subscribed to Sectionum Conicarum libri septem; accedit tractatus de sectionibus conicis et de scriptoribus qui earum doctrinam tradiderunt, 1792, ROBERTSON, Abraham. Oxford, Edinburgh, Dublin
Subject: science/technology

Name: Joseph Banks

Dates: 1776-1800

Location: London

Title: Baronet, Sir, President of the Royal Society

Address: London

Office Holdings: President of the Royal Society

Source Date: 1793

Source Info: Subscribed to The Theory and Practise of finding the Longitude at Sea or Land. To which are added various methods of determining the latitude of a place and variation of the compass, with new tables (Vol. 1), 1793, MACKAY, Andrew. London
Subject: science/technology

Name: Joseph Banks

Dates: 1776-1800

Location: London

Title: Bart, Sir

Address: London

Office Holdings: Literary & Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, honorary member
 Royal Society, president

Source Date: 1796

Source Info: Appears in Third Year's Report of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne to which are annexed The Rules of the Society A List of the Members and A Catalogue of the Library 1796, 1796. Newcastle

His sister Sarah Sophia Banks 28 Oct 1744-27 Sep 1818) lived in the house with Banks and his wife. She collected coins and medals and ephemera which is now historically valuable like broadsheets, newspaper clippings, visiting cards, engravings, advertisements, and playbills – her collections now in the British Museum and british Library. [1]


[1] Wikipedia:


[3] AustralianDictionary of Biography – online edition


Joseph Banks and his abiding legacy by John Gasgoine: Menzies Centre for Australian Studies

[5] Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Joseph Banks 1743-1820.

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Sir Joseph Banks's Timeline

February 13, 1743
Westminster, London, England
June 19, 1820
Age 77
London, England