One of Britain’s greatest early botanists. Through his work in collaboration with Thomas Johnson, his fieldwork seeking to identify new plants and his translations of ancient texts, Goodyer made a significant contribution to our botanical heritage.
Born at Alton in 1592 he was the youngest son of Reginald and Ann Goodyer. Well educated, scholarly and meticulous, with an occupation that took him around the countryside, Goodyer had the chance to observe local vegetation. The full extent of his expertise and diligence in describing the plants he discovered, many for the first time in Britain, remained unknown until his papers were studied three centuries after his death. He clarified the four principal types of British elm tree and introduced the Jerusalem Artichoke to English gardens and cookery (though not entirely complimentary about its culinary virtues)
John Goodyer died in the Spring of 1664 and was buried in the churchyard at Buriton near his wife. His books, manuscripts and notes were left to Magdalen College. All his property went to his nephew the Revd Edmund Yalden, except the house and garden in The Spain and two other fields which were kept in trust and rented out to help children from poorer families in Weston by placing them as apprentices. The Goodyer Charity which this bequest formed continues today. Goodyer is commemorated in a genus of European orchids named by Robert Brown in his honour, by a memorial window in Buriton church and through a dedication in the second Flora of Hampshire (1996).