An English botanist who served with Captain James Cook aboard the HMS Endeavour, Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1802) was influential in persuading the British government to establish a penal colony on the east coast of Australia. As President of the Royal Society from 1778, he served as a government consultant on the colony of New South Wales, overseeing the survey of the Australian coastline by Matthew Flinders and the appointment of such explorers as Alan Cunningham and George Caley to the colony. In 1781 he was made a baronet and was appointed by King George III as Director of Kew Gardens in Melbourne. In this capacity, Banks experimented with such little-known botanical species as cotton, tea and rubber many of which became new cash crops for plantations in the British colonies.

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