John Torrey

John Torrey

[tawr-ee, tor-ee]
Morse, John Torrey, 1840-1937, American lawyer and biographer, b. Boston. Admitted to the bar in 1862, he practiced law in Boston until 1880, when he turned all his attention to writing. With Henry Cabot Lodge he was for a time editor of the International Review. He wrote legal works and biographies, including those of Alexander Hamilton (1876) and O. W. Holmes (1896), in addition to his biographies of Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin for the "American Statesmen" series, of which he was editor.
Torrey, John, 1796-1873, American botanist and chemist, b. New York City, M.D. College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1818. He was professor of chemistry (1827-55) at his alma mater and professor of chemistry and natural history (1830-54) at Princeton. From 1853 he was chief assayer in the U.S. assay office in New York City. His herbarium was presented (1860) to Columbia, and in 1899 it was transferred to the New York Botanical Garden. He was a founder of the New York Academy of Sciences and of the Torrey Botanical Club. A genus of evergreen trees, Torreya, is named for him. He wrote A Flora of the State of New York (1843) and, with Asa Gray, A Flora of North America (2 vol., 1838-43).

See study by A. D. Rodgers (1965); catalog of Torrey's manuscripts in the New York Botanical Garden Library, comp. by S. Lenley et al. (1973).

John Torrey (August 15, 1796March 10, 1873) was an American botanist.

Torrey was born in New York. When he was 15 or 16 years of age his father received a prison appointment at Greenwich, and there he made the acquaintance of Amos Eaton, a pioneer of natural history studies in America. He thus learned the elements of botany, as well as something of mineralogy and chemistry. In 1815 he began the study of medicine, qualifying in 1818. In the following year he issued his Catalogue of Plants growing spontaneously within Thirty Miles of the City of New York, and in 1824 he issued the first and only volume of his Flora of the Northern and Middle States. In the same year he obtained the chair of chemistry and geology at West Point military academy, and three years later the professorship of chemistry and botany in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York.

In 1836 he was appointed botanist to the state of New York and produced his Flora of that state in 1843; while from 1838 to 1843 he carried on the publication of the earlier portions of Flora of North America, with the assistance of his pupil, Asa Gray. From 1853 he was chief assayer to the United States assay office, but he continued to take an interest in botanical teaching until his death.

Torrey made over his valuable herbarium and botanical library to Columbia College in 1860, and he was the first president of the Torrey Botanical Club in 1873. His name is commemorated in the small coniferous genus Torreya, found in North America, China and Japan. T. taxifolia, a native of Florida, is known as the Florida torreya, Torrey nutmeg, or stinking-cedar; and also in the Torrey pine, Pinus torreyana from southern California. He also first described the carnivorous plant genus Darlingtonia, which he named after a friend.


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