Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Randall, John (fl.1764)

Joseph Randall in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

RANDALL, JOHN (fl. 1764), schoolmaster and agriculturist, may have been the John Randall who graduated B.A. from Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1718 and M.A. in 1727. Later in the century he described himself as master of the academy at Heath, near Wakefield; no mention of him appears in Cox's history of Wakefield grammar school. Subsequently he carried on a private school at York. Six pupils resided with him. At York, too, he professed to resolve all questions relating to annuities, leases, reversions, livings, and matters of intricate accounts, and he interested himself in practical agriculture. He advocated a modification of the then new system of pulverisation, or drill cultivation, which was invented by Jethro Tull [q. v.] about 1730. Randall embodied his views in a verbose treatise, dedicated to the Society of Arts, and entitled ‘The Semi-Virgilian Husbandry, deduced from various Experiments, or an Essay towards a new Course of National Farming, formed from the Defects, Losses, and Disappointments of the Old and New Husbandry, and put on the true Biass of Nature, in the Production of Vegetables and in the Power of every Ploughman with his own Ploughs, &c. to execute. With the Philosophy of Agriculture, exhibiting at large the Nutritive Principles derived from the Atmosphere, in a Rotation of Nature, from their being exhaled to their Descent into the Pores of the Soil when duly prepared for the Purposes of Vegetables,’ London, 1764. At the same time Randall invented (but did not patent) a seed-furrow plough, on the principle of Tull's drill plough, and described this and other ingenious performances in ‘Construction and extensive use of a new invented Seed-furrow Plough, of a Draining Plough, and of a Potato-drill Machine, with a Theory of a common Plough,’ 1764. A drawing of the seed plough is engraved in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1764, p. 460, and an article upon it which condemns it as complicated was answered by Randall, who dated from York.

[Works cited; Donaldson's Agricultural Biogr.; De Morgan's Arithmetical Books; Gent. Mag. 1764, pp. 460, 532.]

M. G. W.