Sloane, Sir Hans, Baronet

Sloane, Sir Hans, Baronet

▪ British physician
born April 16, 1660, Killyleagh, County Down, Ire.
died Jan. 11, 1753, London, Eng.
 British physician and naturalist whose collection of books, manuscripts, and curiosities formed the basis for the British Museum in London.

      After studying medicine in London, Sloane traveled in France, taking his M.D. degree at the University of Orange in 1683. During a visit to Jamaica (1687–88) he collected about 800 new species of plants, of which he published an elaborate catalog in Latin in 1696. Sloane was created a baronet in 1716, being the first medical practitioner to receive a hereditary title. He became first physician to King George II and president of the Royal Society in 1727. His great stroke as a collector was to acquire the cabinet of William Courten (1642–1702), who had made collecting the business of his life. When Sloane retired from active work in 1741, his library and cabinet of curiosities had grown to be of unique value, and on his death, he bequeathed his collection to the nation, on condition that Parliament pay his executors £20,000. The bequest was accepted and went to form the collection opened to the public as the British Museum in 1759.

      Sloane had no son that survived beyond infancy, and the baronetcy became extinct upon his death.

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