Faunula Grustensis, the Natural History of the Parish of Llanrwst
Up until 1830, the natural history of north Wales had been little investigated, aside from in Snowdonia and Anglesey. As such, this account of the plants, animals, agriculture and topography of the Parish of Llanrwst was a pioneering study by a local man, John Williams.
As its title indicates, it presents not only botanical and zoological observations, but also gives an account of the illnesses to which local people were prone. Williams’s list of plants encountered in the area’s gardens is particularly noteworthy, since the subject is scarcely ever covered in local floras.
This new edition has been reproduced verbatim from the original, but is augmented by a biography of the author, a review of the early literature on the natural history of the area, a gazetteer of localities of plants and animals mentioned in the text, and a bibliography. Williams’s book is a source of information on the Welsh, English and Latin names of plants and animals, and also includes a brief account of the history of Llanrwst and its farming practises. This edition also offers eight full-page colour plates of plants taken from Sowerby and Smith’s English Botany.
John Williams (1801-1859), the son of a miller, was a native of the modern county borough of Conwy, North Wales. He had an early career as a gardener and subsequently practised medicine as a physician and surgeon. During his residence in Llanrwst, he wrote this account of the natural history and topography of the parish, which was published by a local printer in 1830. He studied medicine in Dublin, and, after emigrating with his family to Pennsylvania and subsequently working in the California goldfields, he returned to Denbighshire and became surgeon to the Minera Lead Works near Wrexham.
John Edmondson recently retired after a career at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and the National Museums Liverpool. He is currently an Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he helps to edit the Flora of Iraq. He is the co-editor of Flora Europaea and the European Garden Flora, the author of James Bolton of Halifax, compiler of the Codex Botanicus Linnaeanus, and a contributor to Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands.
"This attractive new edition makes a rare book by John Williams more widely available. Originally published in Llanrwst in 1830, Faunula Grustensis catalogues the plants and animals observed in the parish of Llanwrst during just one season. […] The new edition reproduces the original and more. The editor John Edmondson, who is a WHGT Clwyd member, has provided additional useful content. This includes a biography of John Williams, the second son of a miller, who enjoyed a successful and adventurous life, a review of the early literature on the natural history of the area, a gazetteer of the localities of plants and animals mentioned in the text, and a bibliography. This publication is further enhanced by eight full-page colour plates of plants from Sowerby and Smith’s English Botany. This is a fascinating and interesting publication."
Glynis Shaw Welsh Historic Gardens Trust Newsletter, March 2020
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