13th July 1791
On this day, 13th July 1791, Allan Cunningham was born in London. He was born into a time when people were moving away from rigid ideas based on faith dictated by religion and they were wondering about the connections in the natural world. He was born into the age of enlightenment.
Allan was to become a plant explorer playing an important role in Colonial Australia’s history. He grew up in Wimbledon near London’s Royal Gardens at Kew and from the very beginning of his life he was surrounded by people who understood plants and gardens. His father, who was originally from Scotland and Head Gardener at Wimbledon House, provided Allan with a good education at Reverend Adams School in Putney.
In his early years he was employed at Kew Gardens assisting William Townsend Aiton who was working on the second edition of Hortus Kewensis. It was at Kew he came to the notice of Sir Joseph Banks who became his patron and recruited Allan as a botanical collector for King George III. He was sent to Brazil for a couple of years and then to Australia. It would be in Australia where he would make his mark. 1
- Source: W.G. McMinn’s Allan Cunningham