He published a manuscript in 1809 under the name of a friend, Joseph Knight, entitled On the cultivation of the plants belonging to the natural order of Proteeae, which contained only 13 pages related to cultivation techniques, but over 100 pages of taxonomic revision. However, it turned out that the work had nonetheless freely plagiarised the work of yet another botanist (Brown) who was at odds with Salisbury. Salisbury had memorised the plant names from Robert Brown's reading of his On the Proteaceae of Jussieu to the Linnean Society of London in the first quarter of 1809, which was subsequently published in March 1810. Knight and Salisbury thus beat Brown to print and claimed priority for the names that Brown had authored.
Salisbury was accused of plagiarism, ostracised from botanical circles, and his publications were largely ignored during his lifetime. Samuel Goodenough wrote:
Robert Brown himself wrote of Salisbury:
I scarcely know what to think of him except that he stands between a rogue and a fool.
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