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Biography of Jethro Tull

Portrait of Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull was an eighteenth century agricultural pioneer and inventor.

When and Where was he Born?

30th March 1674, Basildon, Berkshire, England.

Family Background:

Jethro Tull was the son of Jethro and Dorothy Tull who came from the Oxfordshire/Berkshire border.


St. John’s College, Oxford. Grays Inn, London. Trained for a legal career but a lack of family funds meant he had to go back to farming.

Timeliney of Jethro Tull:

1699: Tull marries Susanna Smith of Burton Dassett, Warwickshire and begins farming the family land.

1701: Tull invents the seed drill, at Howberry farm, Crowmarsh, near Wallingford, Oxfordshire, which was a mechanical device towed by a horse which not only made sowing seeds easier than by hand but which was more efficient in their spreading. His major advance in the technique was the introduction of sowing seeds in three rows simultaneously. He was determined to make agricultural methods easier whilst at the same time increasing yields. His original seed drill was manufactured from pieces of an old pipe organ that he had dismantled.

1709: He moves to a farm near Hungerford where he devised a horse-drawn hoe to clear the weeds, which were growing on cultivated land.

1731: Tull publishes his ideas about farming and plant nutrition in “The New Horse Hoing Husbandry: subtitled, “An Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Vegetation”. His controversial idea was on how plants take up water and he suggested that if the soil was loosened around the roots they would more easily be able to make use of any water. Despite a lot of resistance to his ideas, they were eventually adopted by landowners, and were later to from the basis of modern agriculture.

When and Where did he Die?

21st February 1741, Prosperous Farm, near Hungerford, Berkshire, England of unknown causes. This is the same church where he had previously been baptised.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1733: “Horse Hoing Husbandry”.


1699: Tull married Susanna Smith of Burton Dassett, Warwickshire. 

Site of Grave:

In the churchyard of St Bartholomew’s Church, Lower Basildon, Berkshire, Berkshire, England.

Places of Interest: