John Reeves (1774-1856)
Reeves arrived in China in 1812 as a tea inspector for the Canton Factory of the East India Company, a lucrative position. Before his departure for China, he had been introduced to Joseph Banks through a relative and had received instructions for collecting curious plants and botanical lore. In China, Reeves developed broad interests in science, including astronomy, but he devoted the majority of his attention to horticulture and natural history. Like most of his contemporaries, he practiced science as a gentlemanly pursuit, a respectable hobby rather than a true vocation. He published a few brief notes in obscure journals, collaborating with the missionary-sinologist Robert Morrison on a paper about Chinese materia medica and a report on a solar eclipse, neither of which received notice from the scientific community in Britain. He also helped Morrison with the scientific terms in his English-Chinese dictionary.