Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS (24 February [O.S. 13 February] 1743 – 19 June 1820) was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences. He took part in Captain James Cook's first great voyage (1768–1771). Banks is credited with the introduction to the Western world of eucalyptus, acacia, mimosa and the genus named after him, Banksia. Approximately 80 species of plants bear Banks's name. Banks was also the leading founder of the African Association, a British organization dedicated to the exploration of Africa, and a member of the Society of Dilettanti, which helped to establish the Royal Academy. Banks was born in London to William Banks, a wealthy Lincolnshire country squire and member of the House of Commons, and his wife Sarah, daughter of William Bate. Joseph was educated at Harrow School from the age of 9, and at Eton College from 1756; his fellow students included Constantine John Phipps. As a boy Banks enjoyed exploring the Lincolnshire countryside, and developed a keen interest in nature, history and botany. When he was 17 he was inoculated with smallpox, but he became ill and did not return to school. In late 1760 he was enrolled as a gentleman-commoner at Oxford University. At Oxford he matriculated at Christ Church, where his studies were largely focused on natural history rather than the classical curriculum. Determined to receive botanical instruction, he paid the Cambridge botanist Israel Lyons to deliver a series of lectures at Oxford in 1764.
Banks left Oxford for Chelsea in December 1763. He continued to attend the university until 1764, but left that year without taking a degree. His father had died in 1761, so when he turned 21 he inherited the impressive estate of Revesby Abbey, in Lincolnshire, becoming the local squire and magistrate, and sharing his time between Lincolnshire and London.