John Ralfs (13 September 1807 – 14 July 1890) was an English botanist. Born in Millbrook, near Southampton, he was the second son of Samuel Ralfs, a yeoman of an old family in Hampshire. He has been commemorated in the names of many plant groups and taxa at many levels.
1 Early life and education
2 Financial troubles
4 Family life
6 Correspondence & collaboration with other scientists
9 External links
Early life and education
Ralfs's father died at Muddiford in Hampshire before John was a year old, and the children (two sons and two daughters) were brought up at Southampton by their mother. After being educated privately he was articled to his uncle, a surgeon of Brentford, with whom he lived for two years and a half. For two years he was a pupil at Winchester Hospital, and in 1832 he passed his final examination, being specially recommended by the examiners for his knowledge of botany. For some time he practised in partnership with another surgeon at Shoreditch, and he is also said to have practised at Towcester. At Torquay, where he moved on account of lung disease (probably tubercular in origin), he married, in 1835, Laura Cecilia, daughter of Henry Newman. In November 1837, for the sake of the mild climate, he settled at Penzance, and, having abandoned his profession, dwelt there for the rest of his life.
Through the misconduct of a near relative, who betrayed his trust, Ralfs lost most of his fortune; but under the will of his friend, the Rev. Henry Penneck, who died in 1862, he enjoyed a small annuity. J. D. Hooker and T. H. Huxley, with the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society, set up a charitable collection to provide Ralfs with an annuity - the appeal was so successful that in addition to providing Ralfs with an income, a fund for the "relief of necessitas [sic] Scientific Men" was also established. Charles Darwin was one of the notable scientists who subscribed.