Fuchsia magellanica: brought back to England from South America by a sailor who gave it to his mother in Wapping; here it was seen on her window sill by James Lee, a nurseryman, who in 1793 gave her 80 golden guineas for three of her plants.
There are two conflicting versions as to the introduction of Fuchsia to England. One attributes it to the French botanist Charles Plumier (1646 -1704). He first described the genus in 1704 and is said to have brought seeds back to France after his expedition to the West Indies. The species he collected was Fuchsia triphylla flore coccinea and specimens are recorded in France at this time.
However Professor Philip Munz, in his A Revision of the Genus Fuchsia, 1793, wrote that the fuchsia, one of the short tubed species such as magellanica or coccinea, was first introduced into England by a sailor who grew it in a window. Here it was observed by a nurseryman from Hammersmith, a Mr. Lee, who succeeded in buying it and propagating it for the trade. Other reports name the sailor as Captain Firth, from Hammersmith, who gave it to his wife. Later on James Lee of St. Johns Wood, nurseryman and an astute businessman, heard of the plant and purchased it for 80 guineas. He then propagated as many as possible and sold them to the trade for prices ranging from 10 to 20 guineas each.
In the Floricultural Cabinet, 1855, there is a report which varies slightly from the above. Here it says that F. coccinea was given to Kew Garden in 1788 by Captain Firth and that Lee acquired it from Kew.