Lives of the fellows

James Sherard

b.1666 d.1737/8
MD OxoN(1731) FRCP(1732)

James Sherard, M.D., was the son of George Sherard, of Bushby, in Leicestershire, and was born in 1666. He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ school, and in February, 1681-2, was apprenticed to Mr. Charles Watts, an apothecary, who, shortly before, had been appointed to the care and management of the Botanical garden at Chelsea, a circumstance which must have given his apprentice the opportunity of cultivating a taste for botany, and no doubt laid the foundation of his future excellence in that science. He practised for many years as an apothecary, in Mark-lane, and accumulated an ample fortune. He was a man of extensive attainments, an accomplished musician, and an excellent botanist; and at his country house at Eltham, in Kent, he had a good garden, richly stocked with exotic plants. His brother, William Sherard, D.C.L., fellow of St. John’s college, Oxford, who had been English consul at Smyrna, was scarcely less eminent as a botanist. He cultivated an extensive garden at his country house near Smyrna, which he enriched with the rarer products of Natolia and Greece, and there began to form his celebrated herbarium, which eventually comprised 12,000 species. He died in 1728, and bequeathed to the university of Oxford his library, herbarium, and 3,000l. for the endowment of a professorship of botany, directing that the nomination should for ever be in the gift of the College of Physicians of London. To James Sherard devolved the office of carrying into effect his brother’s bequest; on the completion of which, the university of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of doctor of medicine, by diploma, 2nd July,1731. He had then for several years retired from the business of an apothecary, and had withdrawn to Eltham. The College of Physicians, to mark their sense of the patronage vested in them as the electors of the Oxford professorship, on the recommendation of their President, Sir Hans Sloane, agreed to admit him to the Fellowship without examination, and without the payment of fees. The proposition was submitted to the College, 26th June, 1732, and Dr. James Sherard was admitted a Fellow at the next Comitia, 30th September, 1732. He continued to reside at Eltham, where he pursued his favourite occupation—the cultivation of valuable and rare plants—a curious catalogue of which was published by Dillenius in 1732, under the title, "Hortus Elthamensis, sive Plantarum Rariarum quas in Horto suo Elthami in Cantio colligit vir ornatissimus et præstantissimus Jac. Sherard, M.D. Reg. Soc. et Coll. Med. Lond. Soc.," &c., &c.

Dr. Sherard died, sine prole, 12th February, 1737-8, leaving behind him 150,000l. He was buried in the church of Evington, near Leicester, where he possessed much property. A marble tablet, with the following epitaph, was erected by his widow in the chancel—
Jacobi Sherard, M.D.
Colleg. Medic. Lond, et Soc. Reg. Soc.
Viri multifari doctrinâ cultissimi,
in Rerum naturalium, Botanices imprimis, scientia
pene singularis,
et ne quid ad oblectandos amicos deesset
Artis Musicæ peritissimi.
Accesserant illi in laudis cumulum
mores Christiani, vitæ integritas,
et erga omnes comitas et benevolentia.
Obiit prid. Id. Feb. a.d. MDCCXXXVII.
Annos natus LXXII.

William Munk

(Volume II, page 127)

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