George Clifford III was born in 1685 into a wealthy Amsterdam banking family established by his grandfather, George Clifford I, who had settled there from Lincolnshire, England, in the 1640s. In 1709 George's father, George Clifford II (1657-1727), bought the Hartekamp, a large estate with a mansion, formal garden and conservatory, in the coastal area near the university town of Haarlem; this garden was to become his son's passion and the source of specimens for the herbarium described here.
George III (from now on referred to as just George or Clifford) was extraordinarily wealthy and a Director of the Dutch India Company.
He considerably expanded the garden and added a menagerie, aviary, orangery and four tropical houses. With its exotic plants and animals, it must have been a wonder of its day.
Clifford's passion for plants and his garden was inspired by the famous botanists of his time such as Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1739). Specimens of newly introduced species, as well as living plants and seeds, from Virginia to the East Indies and Europe to the Cape of Good Hope, were acquired via other active collectors such as Adriaan van Royen (1705-1779, Director of the Leiden Botanic Garden), and J.F. Gronovius (1690-1762).
The Hartekamp was part of a highly active Dutch tradition of exchanging plants and herbarium specimens between gardens and the botanists who worked in them.
Unfortunately Clifford's descendants did not share his enthusiasm for the garden and in 1788, 28 years after George's death, the Hartekamp was sold.
Layout of the Hartekamp Garden. (Image reproduced from Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 106(2): 133, 1991, courtesy of The Linnean Society of London.