Ref NoMS/609
TitleAlexander Anderson Papers: Botanical Drawings
AdminHistoryJohn Tyley (born c. 1773) was a botanical artist of mixed heritage from Antigua.

Born in Antigua, a free man of colour, Tyley was a a talented, self-taught artist. When he was around 20 years old, he came to the attention of Dr Alexander Anderson, Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens of St. Vincent. Tyley was invited to live with Anderson and his family in the superintendent's house and was employed as Anderson's assistant to draw and paint plant species growing in the botanical garden. He was paid 5 shillings per day, the standard wage for a skilled tradesman. Tyley signed some of his artwork, which was unusal for the time and especially for a man of colour, but it is likely that he was responsible for producing more artwork which did not bear his signature.

In 1800 Tyley was exiled from St. Vincent for corresponding with people of colour about the unequal status of non-White people in the Caribbean. He attempted to gain a similar position at the Trinidad Botanic Gardens but it was blocked by Governor Thomas Picton who did not want Tyley to settle on the island. The last record that can be found of Tyley is in 1823 in the form of his signature which appears on a petition to Antigua which aimed to improve the situation of people of colour.
Alexander Anderson FRSE FLS was a Scottish surgeon and botanist, born in 1748 in Aberdeen, Scotland. He studied at the University of Edinburgh and was briefly employed at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, England, before he emigrated in 1774 to New York, USA.

In 1785, Anderson served as one of the first two superintendent curators of the St Vincent Botanic Gardens, along with George Young. He spent over 25 years supervising the garden and during his tenure the number of species at the garden increased from 348 to over 3,000. Meanwhile he also spent time writing papers, describing the tropical plants and landscapes he found there to be sent back to The Linnean Society for his peers to study, along with botanical drawings he had commissioned.

Also during this time he conducted travels throughout the Guianas, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago discovering, for Western natural scientists, more than 100 varieties of Caribbean plants.

He was a correspondent of James Edward Smith and Sir Joseph Banks and was a Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

He resigned his post in July 1811, and died on 8 September in the same year on St. Vincent Island, Caribbean (although the Royal Society of Edinburgh gives his date of death as 10 May 1811).
DescriptionBotanical watercolour drawings commissioned by the botanist Alexander Anderson, relating to the St. Vincent Botanic Gardens of which he was Superintendent. These artworks are of various size and most have pencilled determinations underneath, which are possibly contemporary and therefore differ from current scientific names. The artworks are mostly unsigned although eleven are signed "John Tyley del", and it is possible that Tyley was responsible for more of these drawings.
Extent148 artworks
Related MaterialManuscripts relating to Anderson can be found at MS/605; MS/606; MS/607; MS/610; MS/611; MS/612; MS/613; MS/614; MS/615; MS/616; MS/617; MS/618
Another John Tyley artwork for Anderson can be found at MS/608
ArrangementThe drawings are listed in no particular order.
NotesThe dates are taken from Anderson's tenure as Superintendent of the St. Vincent Botanic Gardens.
AcquisitionPresented to the Linnean Society by the representatives of Dr Anderson through the hands of A.B. Lambert in 1815.
Creator NameAnonymous
Tyley, John
Alexander Anderson collection
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