Jonathan Binns

Born 1785
Died 1871
Place of Birth Liverpool
Place of Death Lancaster
Gender Male
Biographical Notes Born in Liverpool into a Quaker family, Jonathan Binns (1785-1871) was the son of Mary Binns, née Albright, and Jonathan Binns (1747-1818), a medical doctor and one of only two Liverpool persons who signed the first list of the Abolitionists of Slavery. The younger Jonathan was educated at the Ackworth School ‘for Friends not in affluent circumstances’, where his father was Superintendent for a time (1795-1804), before he resumed his medical career. Jonathan was for some years a practical agriculturalist, having been apprenticed to a farmer by his father. Described as having 'an extensive and long experience in rural economy and farming' (The Monthly Review, 1838), he was elsewhere noted as ‘a failed farmer’ having ceased that activity by 1819. However, he remained known for his interest in shorthorn cattle and his publications on agricultural topics, including a pamphlet entitled Cornlaws Superseded by Improved Agriculture (Lancaster: Milner, 1839) and his Notes on the Agriculture of Lancashire with Suggestions for its Improvement (Preston: Dobson and Son, 1851). After his farming career he practised as a surveyor, combining that activity with his talent as a lithographer to produce, inter alia, an important map of Lancaster (1825), based on a survey made in 1821. He also acted as a land agent.

In 1835 Binns was appointed as assistant agricultural commissioner to the Irish Poor Inquiry. He travelled throughout the country during two visits in 1835 and 1836, and participated in the commissioners’ close examination of conditions. Shortly afterwards he published The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland (two volumes, 1837) on the state of agriculture, the conditions and habits of Irish people and on possible means of establishing economic prosperity in Ireland. The work, which provides a valuable parallel account to the official Reports from the Commissioners, was dedicated to Queen Victoria and illustrated with lithographs of the author’s drawings. His wide-ranging interests included local history and he was one of the original members of the Lancaster Literary, Scientific and Natural History Society.

He and Rachel Stickney or Streknay (1789-1817) married in 1809 and had several daughters and sons. One of these, William Binns (1812-1848), was an artist of merit and a surveyor of railways, another was general manager for George Stephenson’s mining company.

T. Cann Hughes, ‘A Lancaster literary family’, The Manchester Quarterly, July-Sept. 1932.
Eveline B. Saxton, ‘The Binns family of Liverpool and the Binns Collection in the Liverpool Public Library’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 111 (1959), 167-180.


Travel Account(s)


Abbey of Inch (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Cairn on Slieve Guillien (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Rath at Clones (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Ruins of Devenish Isle (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Owen Gray’s Farm House (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Holy Well and Altars at Tubernault (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Barney Mangin’s Cabin (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Cahir Castle (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)

Round Tower, Antrim (Draughtsman, Author of travel text)