Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Pyrus communis ‘Bishop’s Thumb’

‘Fruit long, rather slender, slightly tapering from the crown to the stalk, having an irregular and slightly knobby outline, in the manner of the Calebasse, about three inches and three quarters long, and two inches in diameter. Eye small, open, with slender segments of the calyx, slightly sunk in an uneven hollow. Stalk one inch and a half long, slender, recurved, and obliquely inserted in a two-lipped cavity. Skin dark green, almost wholly covered with an iron-coloured russet, on the sunny side of a dark rufous brown, thickly sprinkled with grey russetty dots. Flesh greenish yellow, melting, with an abundance of rich, saccharine, high-flavoured juice. Ripe the middle to the end of October.’ [George Lindley – Orchard Guide p.412/1831].



Horticultural & Botanical History

‘An old fashioned dessert pear. Ripening October to November, sometimes later.’ [HP pl.XLII/1878].

I have no further information on its origins, but it was mentioned by Parkinson in 1629. Also figured in Le Jardin Fruitier du Muséum [JFM vol.4/1861] and Pomona Britannica [PB pl.LXXIX/1812].



History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [Pear no.17/1850]. ‘17. May-June. Very prolific bearer, fruit hitherto dry and of very inferior quality.’ [Diary B, MP A2951/1862].




Published May 18, 2010 - 03:24 PM | Last updated Jul 22, 2011 - 03:02 PM

The figure shows a long, irregularly-shaped pear with green skin covered with cinnamon russet. Herefordshire Pomona pl.42, 1878.

Pear - Bishop’s Thumb | HP pl.XLII/1878  | RBGS


Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, unknown origin but thought to be Dutch

  • Bishop’s Pear
  • Bishop’s Thimble


Common Name

Dessert Pear, autumn

Name in the Camden Park Record

Bishop’s Thumb 



Confidence level high