This Day in History: 1743-02-24

Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820) was born on this day. He was a British naturalist and botanist; known mainly for his participation in Cook’s first voyage of discovery, he was elected President of the Royal Society in 1778, a position he held for over 40 years. Perhaps more of a collector than an active scientist, his greatest importance is that of his role as patron of the natural sciences, encouraging and equipping scientific expeditions, his advocacy of science as an international pursuit, and his influence on important personages such as the major scientists of his day, King George III (regarding the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), and the British government concerning the colonisation of Australia.

Banks is honoured in the names of many botanical species, it is unclear when it comes to aquatic taxa which ones are named for him, given the number of places named after him it is likely that a number of species are named for him at secondhand under banksi and banksii.