Hugh Platt 1552–1608

From Book Owners Online

Hugh PLATT or PLAT 1552-1608

Biographical Note

Sir Hugh Platt was a natural philosopher, inventor, and writer of husbandry. Born into the London brewer Richard Platt's family, he was baptised on 3 May 1552 and later matriculated as a pensioner of St John's College, Cambridge on 12 November 1568. He graduated with a BA in the academic year 1571–2 and was then admitted to Lincoln's Inn, where he later became steward and master of the revels. He was knighted by James I at Greenwich on 22 May 1605. He lived in London until his death in late October or early November 1608.

In early modern England, Hugh Platt was considered one of the most influential writers on husbandry and housewifery. His most important books include The jewell house of arte and nature (1594), which contained hundreds of practical tips for daily life, from plant cultivation and preservation to mechanics and the art of memory. His Delights for Ladies (1602), a book of medicinal, cosmetic and culinary recipes written for his contemporary housewives, enjoyed long-lasting popularity till the twentieth century. Besides writing, Hugh Plat was also known for his mechanical inventions, many of which were exhibited in London in 1592.


Thomas Hodges compiled an indexed catalogue of his and Hugh Platt's books, currently British Library, Sloane MS 2242, 2243. This catalogue of two people's libraries contained 424 books, mostly on medicine, anatomy, chymistry, and agriculture.

Some of Hugh Platt's books entered his son William Platt's library and were donated to St John's College, Cambridge.

Characteristic Markings

Hugh Platt had his own system of annotation marks, which he also used in his manuscripts. He annotated his books using a combination of underlines, vertical lines, brackets, crosses, asterisks, and most characteristically, the clover symbols. His arrangement of the clover symbols was often hierarchical, in which the clover symbols' different numbers (usually ranging from one to six) and compositions suggested different meanings. He occasionally inscribed his name as 'Hugo Platt' on his books.