Library: British Library, London

Manuscript: Sloane MS 4047

Folio: ff. 212-213

Microfilm: The History of Science and Technology Series One: The Papers of Sir Hans Sloane, 1660-1753 From the British Library, London Part 1: Science & Society, 1660-1773 Reel 6 Sloane Mss. 4046, 4047 98468

Language: English

Letter Categories:
Royal Society
Trade or Commodities

Letter Subject:

Date of letter (as written): August 15, 1724 (Gregorian)

Standardised date: 1724-08-15

Letter Origin (as written): Charles Town

Letter Destination (as written): To The Hon:ble Sr Hanse Sloane Bar.t at his house in Soho London ye Blanford Man of War Capt Martin

Mark Catesby

Sir Hans Sloane

Others Mentioned:
Mr. Couper
Captain Robinson

Letter written about self or others: N/A

Single or Multiple Sufferers: N/A

Patients Mentioned in Letter:
No Patients Attached to this Letter


[fol. 213] Charles Town Augt - 15th - 1724 Honourable Sr I received yrs of the 17th Aprile last. I shalle according to your order make a Collection of Snakes &c but the season is so far spent before I received the Bottles to put them in that I fear I shall make but a small progress this summer especially in larger Snakes, for which I have not had before now bottles large enough to put them in. I send Now the first half of the summers collection which I hope will afford you many new plants for many of them are ye same of those destroyed by the Pyrates. The Bird’s head in the Box has a Body as big as a goose and web footed, I call it the fisher from its preying on fish, which it does after the manner of the kingsfisher precipitating it self from on high into the water with great violence and there remaining about a minute, they are never seen but at sea Bays and the mouths of large Rivers. The large skin is that of a black Fox, They are very rare and are caught only in the mountains. The small skin is that of a Polcat, they all vary in their marks two being never seen alike some almost all white, others mostly Black with but little white which [...] & sport of Nature Peculiar to this little Beast, as least I know of no wild Beast but what are all of ye same colour I hope are Now Sr You have a Box of Shells and dryed Birds by Capt Robinson with a Lr of the 12 March last My sending Collections of plants and especially Drawings to every of my subscribers is what I did not think would be expected of me My design was Sr til you’l pleas to give me your arrival to keep my Drawing intire that I may Get them Graved, in order to Give A genll History of the Birds And other Animals, which to distribute separately would wholly frustrate that designe And be of little value to those who have so small fragments of the whole. Besides as I must be obliged to draw Duplicates of whatever I send, that time will be loss which otherwise I might proceed in the design And consequently be so much short in proportion to what is sent. I beg Sr if you (as I flatter my self you will) think this reasonable that you will pleas to satisfy Ld Persival, who no doubt but will be influenced by what you say That I might not be thought remiss and to give all content I can to my subscribers I designe to tarry here Another year, unless the following designe requires my being at home sooner which Sr I beg leave to communicate to you, which is this. Here is a Gentleman who practices phisick his Name is Couper and is of Wattham Colledge in Oxford and tho’ he has extradrdinary business in his profession And by far the best of Any Body in the Country. He designes to leave it through a desire of seeing the remote parts of this Continent in order to improve Natural knowledge, And as his Genius bends most to the Mathematicks, he proposes to communicate to the R. Society what observations he makes in Astronomy. And Perticularly in his way of practice. The principal obstruction in such an undertaking, I concieve is the unsafe traveling amongst so treacherous and jealous people as the Spaniards. It’s conceived a pasport or Lr of protection might be procured from Old Spain to facilitate the designe, with more safety which if it could, would be a sufficient obligation to grately the learned in Such observations as Should be required of him. And as he is so kind to tel me my Company is one principal inducement to his undertaking it So I could with no less satisfaction embrace such a designe with a Moderate encouragement, if it could be accomplished without the danger of being imprisoned and as delineating Birds and other Natural Productions would be no small embellishment to [...] an undertaking If ffrom London I could not I would if possible procure from Paris or Amsterdam an painter to goe with me which probably in a very few years would produce No mean Collection of Unknown Productions I cant Sr without to much confidance And regret request the favour of your advice in this affair when I have Already transgressed so long on your important hours So I conclude Sr Your most Dutifull Humble Servt M Catesby

Other Notes:
Mark Catesby was a naturalist, influenced by John Ray and Samuel Dale. In 1712 he went to Virginia and collected botanical specimens, gaining the attention of Dr Sherard and Sloane upon his return in 1719. In 1725 he explored the Bahamas and published his 'The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands' a year later (F. Nigel Hepper, Catesby, Mark (16831749), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2012 [, accessed 23 July 2013]).