LAWSON, William

LAWSON, William A New Orchard and Garden or The best way for planting, grafting, and to make any ground good, for a rich orchard: … (with) the country housewifes garden … for hearbs and Seedes of common vse

London, printed by Nicholas Okes for Iohn Harison, at the Golden Vnicorne in Pater-noster-row, 1631


4to. pp (viii) 134. A , B-I , K . (without last blank K ). Roman letter. Woodcut and typographical headpieces, floriated woodcut initials, title with woodcut scene of men working in an orchard (repeated in text), woodcut printer’s device on second title, repeated on verso of last, full-page plan of an estate depicting layout of various parcels and gardens, 2 large woodcuts of trees, 5 pages of designs for knot gardens. Woodcut of a house for beehives, smaller cuts of tools etc in text, note in contemporary hand on I8 verso, engraved armorial bookplate of Lord Battersea on pastedown, Cornelius J. Hauck’s bookplate on fly. Light age yellowing, imprint on title very fractionally trimmed. A very good, clean copy in polished calf circa 1900, spine with title gilt in long, inner dentelles gilt, a.e.g. joints a little rubbed.

Fourth edition, slightly enlarged from the previous, of this beautifully illustrated work on gardening, the only published work of William Lawson, all early editions of which are now rare. Little is known of Lawson’s life apart from what he tells us in the preface – that he has 48 years and more experience of furnishing his northern orchard and country garden ‘with needfull plants and usefull herbs’. The work is dedicated to Sir Henry Belosses of a well known Yorkshire family who appears to have been a neighbour of the author and shared his keen horticultural interest and tastes.

Lawson claims no authority for his work other than his own observation and experience; ‘my meer and sole experience, without respect to any former-written Treatise’, but he was obviously sensible, educated and well read. “A man of some learning, he evidently read widely on agriculture and gardening, and his two works are also scattered with references to the classics. When he died he willed ‘all my latine books & mie English books of contraversie’ to his son William, which suggests that he may well have owned a relatively substantial library of books for the period.” Julie Gardham – Glasgow University Library Special collections. Within a small compass he provides sound instruction for ‘planting, grafting as to make any ground good, for a rich Orchard’ particularly in the north. “Occasionally in the text he refers to the difficulties of this environment. He advises his fellow northerners, for instance, to ‘meddle not with Apricockes nor Peaches, nor scarcely with Quinces, which will not like our cold parts’. This book can therefore be credited with being the first to deal with the northern garden.” Julie Gardham. This followed by similar information on ‘herbes of common use, their virtues, seasons, profits, ornaments, variety of knots, models for trees, and plots for the best ordering of Grounds and walks’, together with the ‘Husbandry of Bees’. “The work goes on to deal comprehensively with all aspects of orchard management, covering: the kind of soil required (‘blacke, fat, mellow, cleane and well tempered’) and how to improve it; the best kind of site and how to protect it with fencing, or even better, ‘quickwood, and moates or ditches of water’; how to deal with ‘annoyances’ such as animals, birds, thieves, disease and the weather (not to mention the evils of a ‘carelesse master’); how to plant, space and prune your trees; the different types of fruit trees and bushes and their qualities; and how to gather, store and preserve the fruits of your labours. As Lawson sums up, ‘skill and pains, bring fruitful gains’.” Julie Gardham. The section entitled ‘the County Houswife’s Garden’ is valuable for its attention to the essential role of women in the rural household, as cooks, nurturers of fine flowers and keepers of the herbal medicine cupboard. Also Appended to this edition, is Simon Harwood’s short treatise on the art of propagating plants and another, which may be by Lawson or Harwood, on how to increase the yield from a wide selection of fruits. A simple practical work written with much charm by an obvious enthusiast and still eminently readable.

STC 15331.3. ESTC S4739. Not in Freeman. Lowndes has later edn. only.1765. Henrey 226. (1618 first edition)

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