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Home / Series X (Marshall, note) USDA History Collection

Series X (Marshall, note) USDA History Collection

Humphry Marshall papers
Notes on Names and Spellings


Marshall's first name is sometimes spelled "Humphrey" in reference books, and even by his correspondents. But examples of his signature, as well as the title page of his book, show "Humphry" as the correct form.

Arbustum Americanum--click for larger image
Title page of
Arbustum Americanum

Arbustum Americanum

The full title of Marshall's major publication is Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove, or, An Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States, arranged according to the Linnaean system. However, a typographical error on the title page of the first edition gives the first word as "Arbustrum" and this spelling is still often found in citations of the work. (See, for example, Webster's Biographical Dictionary, 1976).

The confusion over this error has been compounded over the years with the appearance in some reference works of misspellings such as "Arboretum" or even "Arboratum Americanum." (See Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, New York: 1888; National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, New York: 1929.)

"Arbustum" is Latin, meaning a place where trees are planted, a grove, orchard, or plantation; there is no such word in Latin as "arbustrum."

Samuel Vaughan

One of Marshall's correspondents in this collection appeared at first to be named James Vaughan. The manuscript dealer had written "James" in pencil next to the signature on one of the letters, and another hand had written "James Vaughan" in ink on the address portion of two others. However, several of these letters were printed in Darlington's Memorials, where the writer is identified as Samuel Vaughan. From this and other evidence it is clear that Samuel was the correspondent's name. Vaughan was an English planter from Jamaica, and friend of Benjamin Franklin. He lived in Philadelphia for a number of years, and was instrumental in arranging for publication of Arbustum Americanum.

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