Records of early controlled pollinations are in the Garden Notebook 7 kept by Knight and dating from to The first two records on page 1 are examples of his entries Jan 3d Apple Seeds 1st Gn Harvey impregnated by Golden Pippin. Fan s. Banks, as a member of the Board of Agriculture, was seeking a person to answer questions about the agriculture in Herefordshire and so it is possible that Richard Payne Knight suggested his brother. It was probably in that Thomas Andrew was introduced to Banks with two consequences, firstly a recognition by Banks of Knight s abilities in experimentation and secondly an involvement in the Board of Agriculture with a contribution to the Board s publication The Agricultural State of the Kingdom 8 in The records indicate that Knight s children assisted in the work in the garden and thus the first two records show Francis and Andrew were involved!
Vorverständigung [sensu Gadamer]
Knight s contribution was included in the section on Herefordshire. This dissemination of his ideas brought international recognition with scientists, including Professor Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle, and his son Alphonse in Geneva, and Monsieur Henri Dutrochet in Tours, and with an ensuing exchange of correspondence. Visits to Knight at Downton Castle by Alphonse de Candolle and Henri Dutrochet were made to exchange ideas about the origins of cultivated plants and plant physiology respectively.
Knight s work in plant breeding probably extended from his early interest in animal breeding. He published A Treatise on the Culture of the Apple and Pear in in which he outlined his work and this was a very successful book which went through eight editions. He declared in that The principal object I had in view, was to obtain new and improved varieties of the apple, to supply the place of those which have become diseased and this led him to believe in a concept of degeneracy over time of varieties of plants.
Knight produced new cultivars of a range of plants during his lifetime including apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, peas and potatoes. Although Knight was principally driven to produce new fruits he also records in the paper of that: as I foresaw that several years must elapse before the success or failure of this process could possibly be ascertained, I wished, in the interval, to see what would be its effects on annual plants, none appeared so well calculated to answer my purpose as the common pea.
In his experiments with peas he observed and recorded phenomena which today can be interpreted as genetic in origin. For example, he recorded that when I introduced the farina of a purple blossom into a white one, the whole of the seeds in the succeeding year became coloured, but when I endeavoured to discharge this colour, by reversing the 12 Knight, T. This clearly was in genetic terms an experimental observation of dominance.
It is interesting to speculate whether Gregor Mendel in his experiments on genetics was aware of Knight s work as a scientific background. Comparison of the published writings of the two scientists is revealing!
Knight s reasons for using Pisum for his investigations were laid out in the paper of Mendel stated his reasons for using Pisum in his paper of and they were presented in remarkably similar wording to Knight s earlier statement. Curiously Mendel acknowledged some precursors but there is no mention of Knight.
This is even more perplexing because of the awareness of Knight s work in German-speaking Europe 16, including Brno where Mendel lived and worked. Knight s paper of had been translated into German and published in Leipzig in in Oekonomische Hefte. Further, Knight s work was reported in Brno itself in Oekonomische Neuigkeiten und Verhandlungen in Orel 17 has noted that Mendel s contemporaries, Johann Friedrich Klotzch in Berlin and Rudolph Geschwind , knew about Knight s plant breeding and that Geschwind published a paper in Austria drawing attention to Knight s work.
In the library of the Augustinian monastery in Brno there is a copy of Carl Friedrich Gaertner s textbook for students, Bastraderzeugung im Planzenreich of with its reference to Knight s work on plant breeding. It is claimed that this copy with its pencil annotations belonged to Mendel.
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The cumulative circumstantial evidence is that Mendel must have been aware of Knight as a precursor even though this was not acknowledged. The descent of living things was an intriguing matter for other earlier precursors of Darwin including George-Louis Buffon and Charles Bonnet in the eighteenth century and then in the early nineteenth century Darwin s grandfather, Dr Erasmus Darwin, and Jean Lamarck. Knight was aware of the prior philosophical thinking by Erasmus Darwin as he indicated in a letter to Banks in The experiments mentioned by Dr. Darwin, in which one species of the Tobacco plant was converted into another and some other experiments of the same kind which I have met with, only satisfy me that the two plants like the Filbert and nut were originally the same Mylechreest, M.
He advocated enquiries on this issue in in writing the prospectus 20 for the Horticultural Society of London. Were it possible to ascertain the primeval state of those vegetables which now occupy the attention of the gardener and agriculturist, and immediately or more remotely, conduce to the support and happiness of mankind; and could we trace out the various changes which art or accident has, in successive generations, produced in each, few inquiries would be more extensively interesting.
But we possess no sources from which sufficient information to direct us in our inquiries can be derived; and we are still ignorant of the native country, and existence in a wild state, of some of the most important of our plants. Knight s observations from his plant breeding in the context of his interest in plant origins also revealed some thoughts on the taxonomy of cultivated plants within a genus. A paper on classification of cultivated Fragaria presented to the Linnean Society of London 21 contained conclusions about the different species of strawberry in cultivation; these have withstood the test of time as shown by Darlington 22 in summarising the polyploid groups in Fragaria.
Knight in reporting his experiments stated the preceding months, therefore, lead me to conclude that our gardens contain three, and three only, distinct species of strawberry, one of which has sported very widely in varieties. Knight classified cultivated strawberries into three groups using a working definition of a species: it will be necessary that I define precisely the meaning which I annex to the word species; as that appears to me to be often used somewhat vaguely and licentiously by writers upon botanical subjects.
By a species of plants, I mean all plants which can be made to breed together without producing mules Knight used the binomial system of nomenclature introduced in by Carolus Linnaeus and thereby the concept of a species within a genus, but he was interrogating relationships within the genera of some cultivated plants and at the same time expressing curiosity about their origins. Through breeding work with peach and almond Knight considered relationships within the genus Amygdalis now Prunus although not quite as deliberately as with crossings between Fragaria species.
A concise statement of his findings appears in in a letter 23 to Lord Bristol: 20 Knight, T.
Knight had been speculating about the two for some time and had written in to Richard Anthony Salisbury, a fellow founder of the Royal Horticultural Society of London and its first secretary, with ideas about the two plants in relation to geographical distribution. The Almond was well known to the early Greek writers upon plants, and unquestionably abounded in Persia; but the Peach was not known there, or the Greek writers, particularly Theophrastus, would have heard of it at least.
Where did it then exist, as a wild species The problems of speciation and origins of members of the genus Prunus remained an intellectual challenge to Knight and brought a comment from Dean William Herbert in in a paper on production of hybrids. I do not however consider that Mr Knight s experiment has proved the Almond and the Peach to be one species. Herbert believed that species were created by God, as he forcibly expressed in in a monograph on the Amaryllidaceae, but, more importantly, that it was an utter waste of words to argue whether vegetable, if of one genus or identical kind, are species or varieties.
Knight also accepted that species came from the hand of the Creator and so the difference between the views of the two men revolved around the results of crossing two species. The debate about the hand of the Creator or the role of evolution continues to this day! The subject of taxonomy in cultivated plants is inextricably linked with the matter of nomenclature.
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In the early stages of the development of the Royal Horticultural Society of London there were significant moves which helped to reduce confusion due to synonyms. In a Drawing Committee was established which enabled good illustrations of fruits to accompany accurate written descriptions in the literature, a purpose recognised today in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants The Society established an experimental garden at Chiswick and so living material was available as a reference collection.
Then in a catalogue of the fruits grown at Chiswick was published to increase the value of the collection for taxonomic purposes. This formation of a collection could have had even more significance in due course if only the cultivars 24 Herbert, W. The establishment of the National Fruit Trials at Brogdale Farm in Kent has achieved the scientific purpose envisaged by Knight during his Presidency of the Royal Horticultural Society from to Recognition of Knight s scientific work in correspondence and publications was accompanied by requests from fellow horticulturists for propagating material.
Fruits were sent to each and in addition potatoes were sent to Le Couteur. The exchanges with van Mons were significant in that there was gene flow between the breeders and it also led to van Mons being an intermediary between Knight and German-speaking Europe 26 through the Reverend Georg Carl Ludwig Hempel, Secretary of the Altenburg Pomological Society.
Dr van Mons was like Knight seeking a scientific approach to horticulture, including plant breeding. Some fruits were sent to Knight who described 28 the Belgic pears as most excellent and very productive with many succeeding as standard trees. A pen-friendship with Lowell commenced in when Lowell wrote seeking assistance in obtaining parts of Volume 1 of the Transactions of the Royal Horticultural Society of London to complete the run at Harvard College later University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This was done by the Society and then an exchange of letters with Knight ensued. The propagating material sent by Knight was freely distributed to growers in Massachusetts and one indication of the extent was reported 29 by Lowell in in a letter to Knight: There are 10, trees or limbs now growing from the ten trees sent me by you in They are already spread through miles extent. The contact with Le Couteur commenced shortly after the founding of the Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society in when Le Couteur was seeking information 30 about the cultivation of potatoes.
Knight not only responded with infor- 26 Mylechreest, M. The exchange of cultivars can be compared with the comparison of cultivars of fruits as part of the early development of a scientific approach to the practice of plant husbandry in horticulture. Knight only occasionally travelled much beyond his neighbourhood in Herefordshire but his one commitment was to go to London each year for the annual meeting of the Horticultural Society.
He did, however, visit his friend John Williams of Pitmaston near Worcester. They exchanged ideas and as a consequence Williams carried out horticultural experiments and controlled pollination of fruits; one of his products, the Pitmaston Duchess pear, albeit a tardy seedling brought to notice after his death, is still extant in cultivation.
The two compared notes on control of the environment for plants under glass. The best angle of glass to the sun was of particular interest to Knight who had a newly introduced curvilinear greenhouse erected in in the walled garden at Downton Castle as part of his investigations. The culture of pineapples 32 under glass was a topic studied for two decades by Knight following receipt of nine plants in Williams was interested in meteorological conditions 33 and from this developed his studies of the climate under glass and its control. Knight was very much part of this parallel thrust in the progression of interest in science.
He was a participating member of national and local organisations as summarised in Table 1. In addition, he was in contact with societies overseas as an elected member, or recipient of an honour, or as a correspondent, and these included organisations in Australia, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the U. Dates for volumes of the Transactions are those given by Synge, P. The development of a public interest in science by more people outside the upper echelons of British society in the early nineteenth century was supported by Knight in various ways as shown in Table 1.
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At the national level this was particularly through his friendships with Sir Joseph Banks and Sir Humphry Davy, two of leading scientists and also protagonists for science. It is noteworthy that although Knight was a close friend of Davy, noted for his lectures on science at the Royal Institution in London, he was not involved with this society promoting science and despite their joint scientific investigations during Davy s regular visits to Downton Castle for grayling fishing Knight, D.
Knight communicated to the Royal Society the papers written by Dr Philip Wilson about the effect of galvanism on animals, but they were rejected because of the nature of the experimentation on living animals. This rejection probably influenced the Royal Society when a paper on the effect of galvanism on germinating bean seeds submitted by Williams through Knight was also rejected. However, Knight s contacts with Williams and Dr Wilson probably meant he had an indirect influence on the scientific progress of Sir Charles Hastings, founder of the British Medical Association and at that time was also at Worcester Infirmary.
Hastings was a pioneer in use of the microscope for physiological research in medicine. Hastings in a speech stated that such a knot of philosophers might never meet again on an occasion like the present in the public room of our provincial town in England. I applied such a bandage in the first experiment I ever made upon a plant and at the distance I have particular reasons for knowing of precisely half a century from the present time ; when I was ten years old. There have been many testimonies and accolades and some of the earliest were the award of the Copley Gold Medal by the Royal Society in , the naming of a cultivar of pear, Beurre Knight, by J.
Van Mons in , the naming of a newly discovered botanical genus of the family Proteaceae as Knightia by 36 Worcestershire Natural History Society, This was read to the Society on 6 June and written before that date and hence the difference in dates between publication of the paper and the recall of his age.
References: Anon. The Cottage Gardener 6, pp Banks, J. Brickell, C. Cook R.