JOSEPH BURTT HUTCHINSON 21 March 1902—16 January 1988 Elected F.R.S. 1951 By M. H. Arnold JOSEPH BURTT HUTCHINSON, known as ‘Jack’ to his family and friends in the U.K., but widely known as ‘Hutch’ overseas, showed, throughout his life, a rare combination of Quaker dedication to Christian principles, agricultural common sense and scientific excellence. It was this unusual combination of characteristics that enabled him to contribute to human well-being in ways that extended far beyond those demanded by his professional career. He served for more than 30 years in tropical developing countries, not only contributing to our knowledge of the genetics and taxonomy of the world’s cottons but, more generally, encouraging and stimulating science and education in the cause of development. The same underlying attributes continued to motivate his life and work when he returned to Cambridge as Professor of Agriculture and, later, in retirement. He received an Sc.D. from Cambridge in 1948, a D.Sc. honoris causa from Nottingham in 1966 and was similarly honoured by the University of East Anglia in 1971. He was awarded the Royal Society Gold Medal in 1967, made C.M.G. in 1944 and knighted in 1956.
282 Biographical Memoirs there were limitations to working on the diploid cottons in Trinidad, where none occurred naturally, and there was no commercial crop. Consequently, when an opportunity arose of working in India, Hutchinson was advised to take it. He was offered an appointment at the Institute of Plant Industry at Indore, attached to the Indian government service. The posting of staff to government research stations was a mode of operation espoused by the Corporation as an efficient means of ensuring close collaboration between specialist cotton staff and others working more generally on agricultural problems of the country. Eventually, all overseas staff of the Corporation were assigned in this way, other than those working at its own central station.
Joseph Burtt Hutchinson 283 a background of the initial knowledge he had acquired under Harland’s guidance in Trinidad on the taxonomy of the genus Gossypium and, especially, on the evolution of the cultivated cottons. Although he had made good use of his time in India to continue to explore the relatons of the Old World cottons, the opportunity to make a major contribution to the taxonomy of the genus was presented to him when he returned to Trinidad in 1937. With Harland’s departure, Hutchinson assumed responsibility for the whole of the Gossypium collection.
284 Biographical Memoirs different types of cotton growing in homesteads in vast areas of Asia, Africa and America. In Trinidad, there was the collection of cultivated cottons and the wild species of Gossypium so painstakingly built up by Harland, but augmented under Hutchinson’s leadership. Harland had already made a significant contribution to understanding the diversity of the New World species and the genetic barriers among the different forms. Moreover, Hutchinson could interact with colleagues at the research station who, though small in number, were all outstanding scientists in their own right. His two main collaborators, R.A. Silow and S.G. Stephens were by that time experienced cotton geneticists and they all had the benefit of the painstaking cytological work of their colleague A. Skovsted.
Joseph Burtt Hutchinson 285 As the new evidence emerged, Hutchinson critically re-assessed the various hypotheses on the origin and spread of the tetraploid cottons; at first as part of a series of lectures delivered in the summer of 1954 at Raleigh, North Carolina (U.S.A.) and later published as The application of genetics to cotton improvement, in 1959 (77). Reflecting on earlier comments by Harland on this contoversial issue, Hutchinson concluded that, with an ancient origin of the tetraploids now more probable than a recent one, identification of the original diploid parents would remain largely a matter of conjecture.