Gabriel Plattes (d.1644) was one of the first projectors whose work was taken up by Hartlib, in the late 1630s. He had originally been patronized by the inventor and drainage engineer, William Engelbert, and, with Hartlib’s encouragement, he published on husbandry and mining, and carried out alchemical work. In 1641, his anonymous pamphlet, A Description of the Famous Kingdome of Macaria, set out a vision of a technological utopia, which he hoped the Long Parliament would pursue.
Plattes’ writings combined practical knowledge and achievement with an interest in improvement. In A Discovery of Infinite Treasure, he proposed a number of remedies for current faults in English husbandry, some of which anticipated the suggestions of the agricultural improvers of the 1650s, or were amplified by them. He advocated the creation of a ‘Colledge for Inventions in Husbandrie’ (p.72), which would ensure that advances in practice were applied to the public good, and described the operation of a seed-drill which he had invented. Both Plattes and Hartlib argued that, once land and labour were sensibly managed, England contained sufficient wealth and resources to provide amply for its people. Plattes maintained his confidence in this belief despite his own personal circumstances. Although he was supported by Hartlib, Cressy Dymock reported that Plattes was ‘suffered to fall down dead in the streets for want of food’.