In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus

The Templeton Journals - An Introduction

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The archive of Journals and related reports and papers of the naturalist John Templeton is an important historical, scientific and social resource of great value not only to the historical development of the natural sciences in Ireland but also to the study of Belfast and Irish history. Indeed, to quote Ruth Isabel Ross in her introduction to An Irish Florilegium (12, 1983, Thames and Hudson, London) - ‘He left an unpublished diary fit to be compared to Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selbourne’.


The Journals exist as a series of handwritten daily entries from 1806 until his death in 1825, covering not only natural history, meteorological and horticultural records but notes on scientific lectures and learned journals, social visits, political writings, current literature, copies of political tracts etc – in all 2579 pages. There are also 125 pages of notes and drawings for his Irish flora (which was never published).


The archive is the property of the Ulster Museum and is listed on its website. The original handwritten documents have been copied in half yearly segments and are available as a series of PDFs on special request. The existence of the Journals is often quoted and their importance recognised. Over the years some data has been extracted but accessibility remains a real problem and there had been relatively little discussion of the wider content until Patricia Pyne’s exhibition at the Ulster Museum in 2016 - “Out of the Shadows: Capturing the Forgotten Naturalist John Templeton (1766-1825).


In early 2015, in association with the Ulster Museum, the BNFC completed a pilot project to accurately transcribe the incomplete 1806 Journal (entries run from November 23, 1806 to January 13, 1807). Building on this experience, the methodology was revised (an on-going process reflecting each new problem encountered) and work has continued on the remaining Journals:


Edition 1


This is an accurate, uncorrected and unedited line by line transcription of the Ulster Museum's pdf copy of the Journals, preserving Templeton's original spelling, erratic punctuation, insertions and layout. The Ulster Museum PDF page numbers are included so it is easy to navigate back to the original text. The transcribed Journals will be made available through the BNFC website as they are completed.


Edition 2


A fully edited and referenced version for the modern reader, complete with footnotes and analytical appendices, is in preparation and will follow.


An account of Templeton's life was given in a commemorative lecture by Rev. Thomas Dix Hinks to the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society on 24th of May 1827 and forms part of the archive. This also has been transcribed and provides a valuable introduction to the life and work of John Templeton.

For the Belfast Naturalists Field Club

Editor                                   Barrie Hartwell

Editorial Panel                       Lee Gordon, Christine Hartwell, Margaret Marshall, Joan McCaughey and Pat O’Neill.

Natural history Consultant      Declan Doogue                                                            

Ulster Museum Facilitator   Sinead McCartan

Organisation and Credits

Available for Download as PDF

A Discourse read by the Rev. Thomas Hinks on the anniversary of the birth of Linnaeus where-in hre commemorates the scientific pursuits of the late John Templeton of Cranmore who died on the 15th Decr.

1825 Discourse by RevThosHincks trans v1.1.pdf

Templeton Journal 1806 Fiche No 1: 10 July to 13 Jan (Edition 1) 1806 Ed1 v4.pdf

Templeton Journal 1807 Fiche No 1: 14 Jan to 28 June (Edition 1) 1807 No1 Ed1 v4.pdf

Templeton Journal 1807 Fiche No 2: 28 June to 31 December (Edition 1) 1807 No 2 Ed1 v4.pdf