We know little about Lydia Byam, a member of a powerful family of Antigua who published A Collection of Exotics from the Island of Antigua and A Collection of Fruits from the West Indies. Many of the plants included in the former are medicinal or otherwise useful, including potato, coffee, guaiacum, and wild cinnamon. This may have resulted from Byam’s family connections to plantations and the slave labor that made plants so profitable to a privileged few. The verso of plate 5—Ricinus Palma Christi—is signed
Lydia Augst [sic] 6th 1842. This is likely the signature of a younger female relation, perhaps a daughter, since Lydia appears to have been a very common name in this family.
Debrett, John. The Baronetage of England. 5th ed. London: Printed for C. and J. Rivington [etc.], 1824.