Mark Catesby (March 24, 1683 - December 23, 1749) was a British artist, scientist, and explorer active in the early to middle parts of the 18th century. He was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex, England, the son of a gentleman farmer and a prominent local politician. John Ray, a famed English naturalist and family, friend inspired Catesby to study natural history. When his father died, in 1712, he accompanied his sister, Elizabeth and her husband William Cooke, a member of the Virginia colony governor’s council, to Virginia. This was his first voyage to the Americas, where he remained for the subsequent 7 years, traveling through Appalachia and to some of the West India Islands, including Jamaica. During his travels he produced meticulous illustrations of the flora and fauna he encountered. On his return to London, the Royal Academy, then headed by Sir Isaac Newton, were so impressed with his work that they raised funds for a second voyage. Catesby returned to the America’s in 1722, arriving in Charleston. In the subsequent 4 years, he traveled throughout the Carolina, Florida, and the Bahamas, observing animal and plant life, and laying the groundwork for his seminal work, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, considered to be the first fully-illustrated natural history of North America. His work was highly influential, inspiring a new generation of natural historians, including Carl Linnaeus (1707 - 1778) and John James Audubon (1785 - 1851). Catesby died at his home in London where he was buried in the St. Luke Old Street churchyard, aged 66.