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Hans Sloan (1660 - 1753):
Physician and collector

Hans Sloane was born in Killyleagh, County Down and studied medicine at London, Paris and Montpelier and graduated from the Huguenot University of Orange near Avignon in 1683. From 1687 to 1689 he was physician to the Governor of Jamaica, and surgeon to the West Indies fleet. In 1696 he published a catalogue in Latin of eight hundred new specimens of plants he had collected. He practiced medicine in London, where he set aside his early mornings to treat the poor without payment. It is said that he attended Samuel Pepys, and in 1712 he was appointed physician to Queen Anne and set up his Physic Gardens in Chelsea. He was made a baronet in 1716, and three years later became President of the Royal College of Physicians. He was appointed physician to King George II. He was a friend of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, whom he succeeded as President of the Royal Society in 1727. He published A Voyage to the Islands of Madeira, The Natural History of Jamaica (2 vols., 1707 and 1725) and the fourth London Pharmacopoeia, a catalogue of medicinal herbs. He was honoured by many foreign academies of science. As a physician he introduced drinking-chocolate, which he considered a health-giving beverage. His library was said to contain 50,000 books, 3,500 manuscripts, 32,000 medals and coins, 3,000 cameos, seals and precious stones, and over 25,000 natural history specimens. This collection, which he bequeathed to the nation, and which was purchased by a special act of parliament, became the nucleus of the British Museum, which was opened to the public in 1759. Sloane Square in London is named after him.

Born: 16 April 1660
Died: 11 January 1753
Kate Newmann