Richard Irwin Lynch

1850 – 1924

RICHARD LYNCH was born on the 1st of June, 1850, at St. Germans, Cornwall, where his father was Head Gardener to
the Earl of St. Germans.

He went to Kew Gardens at the age of seventeen after an apprenticeship under his father, who was himself Kew trained.
Promoted to the post of Foreman of the Herbaceous Department in 1871, he later became Senior Foreman on his transference to the Tropical Department.

Important economic plants were propagated and despatched to the Colonies during this last period of his service at Kew, one of them being the Para rubber, Hevea brasiliensis.

In 1879 Richard Lynch was appointed Curator of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, where he had a deservedly successful career. His enthusiasm was tremendous, and the Garden became quite transformed. The collection was built up to such purpose that, twelve years after his appointment, it contained representatives of more than a quarter of the genera in Bentham and Hooker’s Genera Plantarulli. This brought the Botanic Garden second only to Kew among English public gardens.

Owing to the necessity for economy, nearly all the plants acquired by Lynch during his forty years at Cambridge were received in exchange for others. A large number of those which he succeeded in flowering were found worthy of a place in the Botanical Magazine.

Richard Lynch raised numerous hybrids, including the beautiful race of plants obtained by crossing Gerbera Jamesonii with other species of the genus.

Many papers from his pen appeared in the horticultural press, but his most valuable contribution to plant literature was The Book of the Iris, which he published in 1904. He also, in 1886, translated Correvon’s Les Plantes des Alpes for the Gardeners’ Magazine.

The Linnean Society elected Lynch an Associate in 1881. In 1901 he gained the Veitch Memorial Medal. The Victoria Medal of Honour was awarded to Richard Lynch in 1906, and in 1923 the Royal Horticultural Society again honoured him by the award of the Veitch Memorial Gold Medal ‘for his work in horticulture’. The University of Cambridge conferred on him, in 1916, the honorary degree of M.A., which, in the words of Professor Seward, ‘he thoroughly appreciated and richly deserved.’

After forty years of efficient service and great achievement he was forced by ill-health to retire from the Cambridge curatorship.

The end for Richard Lynch came at Torquay, Devonshire, on the 7th of December, 1924, after a rather long period of suffering.

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Source: Curtis’s Botanical Magazine