The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VIII. The Literature of Science

§ 32. Botanic Gardens

Towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Oxford botanic garden had been founded (1621), which was followed, in 1667, by the opening of the Edinburgh botanic garden, and, in 1673, by the foundation of the Chelsea physic garden, by the Apothecaries’ company. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Glasgow followed suit. By this time, many of the universities had chairs of botany, and botany and anatomy were the first biological sciences represented by professorial chairs in this country. In 1724, a chair was established at Cambridge, with Bradley as its first professor; but he and his immediate followers had little success and, for the most part, were non-resident. Oxford followed, in 1734, and Dillenius was the first to occupy the chair, which had been founded by William Sherrard. The botanic garden at Oxford, however, had been in existence for many years. At Cambridge, it was not till 1759 that Walker founded the botanic garden, which, at that time, occupied the northern site of the present museums of science. The fine specimen of the Sophora tree, the tree which yields the Chinese imperial yellow dye, is the last and only memorial of this old botanic garden. In 1765, Kew gardens, originally in possession of the Capel family, were combined with Richmond gardens, then occupied by the princess Augusta, widow of Frederick, prince of Wales. In fact, this lady may be regarded as the foundress of Kew, which, since her time, has played the leading part in the dissemination of botanical knowledge throughout the world.

In the latter half of the eighteenth century, the Linnaean system of classification had been generally adopted in Great Britain, and, in the year 1783, Sir James Edward Smith secured, from the mother of Linnaeus, for £1050, the entire Linnaean collections. These did not, however, reach these islands without an effort on the part of the Swedish government to retrieve them. Indeed, it sent a man-of-war after the ship which transported them.