John Tradescant the younger is accredited with introducing the pelargonium genera to the UK; although for a good couple of hundred years the different types of pelargoniums were all referred to as geraniums and it is this original naming that created the continuing mix up. He is also known to have brought back many trees, shrubs and perennials that we still enjoy today.
John the younger travelled in person to Virginia at various points between 1628 and 1637, with possibly a further two trips prior to the year of his death of 1662. However, with regards to the Pelargonium, it was as the representative of Queen Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles the First) that he was sent out as the very first pioneer of what we now know today as PAGS (The Pelargonium and Geranium Society). It is considered that John the younger returned to England with the pelargonium, possibly the Species P.triste, during the 1620’s as a fleet had been dispatched to Barbary to tackle the Algerians in 1620. It is recorded that John the younger was a voyager on one of the ships and represented Queen Henrietta Maria. Note: pelargoniums are mainly native to South Africa and for John Tradescant to return with one from the Algiers it is considered that this had been collected from the Cape area by an unknown traveller at some time between the 1490’s and 1620.
On his death in 1662 John the younger was buried alongside his father at the churchyard of St Mary at Lambeth and it is here that you will find the Museum of Garden History.