Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS (16 April 1660 – 11 January 1753)
was an Irish physician, naturalist and collector noted for bequeathing
his collection to the British nation, thus providing the foundation of
the British Museum.
His name was later used for streets and places such as Hans Place,
Hans Crescent, and
Sloane Square in and around
Chelsea, London - the
area of his final residence - and also for Sir Hans
Sloane Square in
his birthplace in Ireland, Killyleagh.
1 Early life
2 Voyage to Jamaica
3 Society physician
British Museum and Chelsea Physic Garden
6.1 Places named after Sloane
6.2 Plants and animals named after Sloane
7 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Sloane was born on 16 April 1660 at
Killyleagh in County Down,
Ireland. He was the seventh son of Alexander Sloane (died 1666), agent
for James Hamilton, second Viscount Clandeboye and later first Earl of
Clanbrassil. Sloane's family had migrated from Ayrshire in Scotland,
but settled in the north of Ireland under James I. His father died
when he was six years old.
As a youth, Sloane collected objects of natural history and other
curiosities. This led him to the study of medicine, which he went to
London, where he studied botany, materia medica, surgery and pharmacy.
His collecting habits made him useful to
John Ray and Robert Boyle.
After four years in
London he travelled through France, spending some
time at Paris and Montpellier, and stayed long enough at the
University of Orange-Nassau to take his MD degree there in 1683. He
London with a considerable collection of plants and other
curiosities, of which the former were sent to Ray and utilised by him
for his History of Plants.
Voyage to Jamaica
Title page, Sloane's Voyage to Jamaica, 1725
Sloane was elected to the
Royal Society in 1685. At the same time,
he attracted the notice of Thomas Sydenham, who gave him valuable
introductions to practice. In 1687, he became a fellow of the College
of Physicians, and the same year went to
HMS Assistance as physician in the suite of the new Governor of
Jamaica, the second Duke of Albemarle.
Jamaica was fast emerging as
a source of immense profit to British merchants based on the
cultivation of sugar and other crops by the forced labor of West
Africans—many from the Akan and other peoples of the regions which
the English entitled the Gold and Slave Coasts.
However, Albemarle died in
Jamaica the next year, so Sloane's visit
lasted only fifteen months. During that time he noted about 800 new
species of plants, which he catalogued in
Latin in 1696; he later
wrote of his visit in two lavishly illustrated folio volumes
(1707–1725). He was the President of Royal College of
Physicians and he became secretary to the
Royal Society in 1693,
and edited the Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society for
Sloane married Elizabeth Langley Rose, the widow of Fulke Rose of
Jamaica, and daughter of alderman John Langley. They had three
daughters, Mary, Sarah and Elizabeth,[a] and one son, Hans. Of the
four children, only Sarah and Elizabeth survived infancy. Sarah
married George Stanley of Paultons and Elizabeth married Charles
Cadogan, the future Second Baron Cadogan. Income from the sugar
produced by enslaved African laborers on Elizabeth's plantations at an
area known as Sixteen Mile Walk fed the family fortunes in
together with Sloane's medical revenue and
investments, gave him the wealth to collect on a vast scale.
Illustration from critique of the first volume of A voyage to the
islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica,
published in Acta Eruditorum, 1710
Sloane encountered cacao while he was in Jamaica, where the locals
drank it mixed with water, though he is reported to have found it
nauseating. Many recipes for mixing chocolate with spice, eggs, sugar
and milk were in circulation by the seventeenth century. After
returning from Jamaica, Sloane may have devised his own recipe for
mixing chocolate with milk, though if so, he was not the first. By the
1750s, a Soho grocer named Nicholas Sanders claimed to be selling
Sloane's recipe as a medicinal elixir, perhaps making "Sir Hans
Sloane's Milk Chocolate" the first brand-name milk chocolate. By the
nineteenth century, the Cadbury Brothers sold tins of drinking
chocolate whose trade cards also invoked Sloane's recipe.
His practice as a physician among the upper classes was large,
fashionable and lucrative. He served three successive sovereigns,
Queen Anne, George I, and George II.
In pamphlets written concerning the sale by William Cockburn of his
secret remedy for dysentery and other fluxes, it was stated for the
defence that Sloane himself did not disdain the same kind of
professional conduct; and some colour is given to that charge by the
fact that his only medical publication, an Account of a Medicine for
Soreness, Weakness and other Distempers of the Eyes (London, 1745),
was not given to the world until its author was in his eighty-fifth
year and had retired from practice.
In 1716 Sloane was created a baronet, making him the first medical
practitioner to receive a hereditary title. In 1719 he became
president of the Royal College of Physicians, holding the office for
sixteen years. In 1722 he was appointed physician-general to the army,
and in 1727 first physician to George II.
In 1727 he succeeded Sir
Isaac Newton as president of the Royal
Society. He retired from it at the age of eighty.
He was a founding governor of London's Foundling Hospital, the
nation's first institution to care for abandoned children.
British Museum and Chelsea Physic Garden
Bust of Sloane by Michael Rysbrack, c. 1694-1700, at British Museum
Bust by Michael Rysbrack, main foyer, British Library
Sloane's fame is based on his judicious investments rather than what
he contributed to the subject of natural science or even of his own
profession. His purchase of the manor of Chelsea, London, in 1712,
provided the grounds for the Chelsea Physic Garden.
His great stroke as a collector was to acquire in 1701 (by bequest,
conditional on paying of certain debts) the cabinet of William
Courten, who had made collecting the business of his life.
When Sloane retired in 1741, his library and cabinet of curiosities,
which he took with him from
Bloomsbury to his house in Chelsea, had
grown to be of unique value. He had acquired the extensive natural
history collections of William Courten, Cardinal Filippo Antonio
Gualterio, James Petiver, Nehemiah Grew, Leonard Plukenet, the Duchess
of Beaufort, the rev. Adam Buddle, Paul Hermann,
Franz Kiggelaer and
On his death on 11 January 1753 he bequeathed his books,
manuscripts, prints, drawings, flora, fauna, medals, coins, seals,
cameos and other curiosities to the nation, on condition that
parliament should pay his executors £20,000, far less than the value
of the collection. The bequest was accepted on those terms by an act
passed the same year, and the collection, together with George II's
royal library, etc., was opened to the public at
Bloomsbury as the
British Museum in 1759.
A significant proportion of this collection was later to become the
foundation for the Natural History Museum.
He also gave the Apothecaries' Company the land of the Chelsea physic
garden, which they had rented from the Chelsea estate since 1673.
Chelsea with part of the Old Church and Sir Hans Sloane's tomb
Sloane Memorial inscription, Chelsea, London
Hans Crescent street-sign on
Harrods building, Knightsbridge
Hans Sloane was buried on 18 January 1753 at Chelsea Old Church
with the following memorial:
To the memory of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart, President of the Royal
Society, and of the College of Physicians; who in the year of our Lord
1753, the 92d of his age, without the least pain of body and with a
conscious serenity of mind, ended a virtuous and beneficent life. This
monument was erected by his two daughters Eliza Cadogan and Sarah
His grave is shared with his wife Elisabeth[b] who died in 1724.
Places named after Sloane
Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Sloane Avenue, Sloane Grammar School
and Sloane Gardens in the
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are
named after Sir Hans. His first name is given to Hans Street, Hans
Hans Place and Hans Road, all of which are also situated in
the Royal Borough.
Plants and animals named after Sloane
Sloanea, a plant genus, was named after him by Linnaeus.
Urania sloanus, a species of moth, is named for Hans.
Spondylurus sloanii, a species of lizard, was named in his honor by
British Library Leyden Medical Dissertations Collection
The standard author abbreviation Sloane is used to indicate this
person as the author when citing a botanical name.
^ 1695 – 20 May 1768
^ Died 17 September 1724
^ a b c Anon (1969). "Sir
Hans Sloane (1660-1753) founder of the
British Museum". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical
Association. 207 (5): 943. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03150180073016.
^ Ford, J. M. (2003). "Medical Memorial. Sir
Hans Sloane (1660-1753)".
Journal of medical biography. 11 (3): 180. PMID 12870044.
^ McIntyre, N. (2001). "Sir
Hans Sloane (1660-1753)". Journal of
medical biography. 9 (4): 235. PMID 11718127.
^ Dunn, P. M. (2001). "Sir
Hans Sloane (1660-1753) and the value of
breast milk". Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal
Edition. 85 (1): F73–F74. doi:10.1136/fn.85.1.F73.
PMC 1721277 . PMID 11420330.
^ Ravin, J. G. (2000). "Sir Hans Sloane's contributions to ocular
therapy, scientific journalism, and the creation of the British
Museum". Archives of Ophthalmology. 118 (11): 1567–1573.
doi:10.1001/archopht.118.11.1567. PMID 11074814.
^ Mason, A. S. (1993). "
Hans Sloane and his friends. The FitzPatrick
Lecture 1993". Journal of the
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians of London.
27 (4): 450–455. PMID 8289170.
^ Nelson, E. C. (1992). "Charles Lucas' letter (1736) to Sir Hans
Sloane about the natural history of the Burren, County Clare". Journal
of the Irish Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. 21 (2): 126–131.
^ Ober, W. B. (1968). "Sir Hans Sloane, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.
(1660-1753) and the British Museum". New York state journal of
medicine. 68 (11): 1422–1430. PMID 4872002.
^ a b c Carter, Harold B. (July 1995). "The
Royal Society and the
Voyage of HMS Endeavour 1768-71". Notes and Records of the Royal
Society of London. London, UK: The Royal Society. 49 (2): 245–260.
doi:10.1098/rsnr.1995.0026. JSTOR 532013. (Subscription required
^ "Sir Hans Sloane, Baronet British physician". Encyclopedia
Britannica. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
^ "The life and curiosity of Sir Hans Sloane". The Economist.
^ Brooks 1954.
^ Delbourgo, James (2011). "Sir Hans Sloane's Milk Chocolate and the
Whole History of the Cacao". Social Text.
^ "About Sir Hans Sloane". The Natural History Museum. Retrieved 3
^ Preston 1854, p. 13-.
^ Ex Student
^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym
Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Sloane", p. 246).
^ IPNI. Sloane.
Brooks, Eric St. John (1954). Sir Hans Sloane: the great collector and
his circle. Batchworth Press.
Preston, Henry C. (1854). The Life of North American Insects:
Illustrated by Numerous Colored Engravings and Narratives. Sayles,
Miller and Simons, printers.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sloane, Sir
Hans". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University
Press. p. 243.
De Beer, Sir Gavin (1953). Sir
Hans Sloane and the British Museum.
London: Oxford University Press.
Clarke, Jack A. (Oct 1980). "Sir
Hans Sloane and Abbé Jean Paul
Bignon: Notes on Collection Building in the Eighteenth Century". The
Library Quarterly. 50 (4): 475–482. doi:10.1086/601019.
Lyons, J. 2008. p. 53 – 54. The Life and Times of a famous
Ulsterman. Copeland Report for 2008. Copeland Bird Observatory
Weld, Charles Richard (1848). A history of the Royal Society: with
memoirs of the presidents. Vol. 1. London: Parker. p. 450.
Munk, William (1861). The Roll of the
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians of
London; Compiled from the Annals of the College and from Other
Authentic Sources. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). London: Longman, Green, Longman,
and Roberts. [Ab. 4.] [Dr:] [Harrison]. p. 466.
Lundy, Darryl, Sir Hans Sloane, 1st and last Baronet, The
Peerage [unreliable source]
Jenny Uglow, "
Collecting for the Glory of God" (review of James
Collecting the World:
Hans Sloane and the Origins of the
British Museum, Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 2017), The New
York Review of Books, vol. LXIV, no. 15 (12 October 2017),
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hans Sloane.
"Index to the Sloane manuscripts in the British Museum", in the
British Museum in various formats, at Archive.org
A Voyage… on Botanicus
Catalogus Plantarum...on Botanicus
The Sloane Printed Books Catalogue
Sloane Correspondence Online
Sloane Letters Blog
"Voyage to the Islands: Hans Sloane, Slavery and Scientific Travel in
the Caribbean", John Carter Brown Library online exhibition 
British Museum: Sir Hans Sloane
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