John Worlidge was a noted horticulturalist and agricultural writer in the 17th century. He wrote many influential documents about farming and his major work “Systema Agriculturae” was the first of its kind to systematically document crop cultivation practices. He lived from 1633-1993.
Worlidge was born in Petersfield, Hampshire in 1633. His father was a lawyer; however, he became a notable resident of the town due to his agricultural writings, which were mainly published under the pseudonym J.W. Gent.
Among his well-known publications was “Vinetum Britannicum” or “a Treatise of Cider”, published in 1676, in which Worlidge recommended the production of cider over wine in Britain due to the favourable conditions in this country for the apple-based beverage. This was later followed by “the most easie Method of Making the best Cyder” in 1687.Woridge also wrote “a Discourse of Bees” in 1676.
However, Worlidge’s most famous work was his earliest; “Systema Agriculturae”, published in 1669. Over the next 50 years, five further editions were released and the treatise was highly influential in farming until well into the 18th century, as it systematically documented many progressive ideas gathered from scattered sources. Worlidge also invented a horse-drawn seed drill which made sowing easier and more efficient.
The highest and most absolute content any man enjoys or findes in any sublunary thing, is in this science of agriculture
John Worlidge, Systema Agriculturae
Worlidge also leaves a modern legacy in Petersfield today, where a Physic garden recognises his botanical expertise. He is buried in St Peter’s Church, Petersfield, where there is a Worlidge family memorial.