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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0100 G/PP2/23
SMITH, Sir James Edward (1759-1828)
Level of description
Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
1 volume


Name of creator(s)

Smith, Sir, James Edward, 1759-1828, Knight, botanist

Administrative / Biographical history

Born, Norwich, 1759; educated at home; began to study botany at eighteen; studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, 1781, studying botany under Dr John Hope; studied in London under John Hunter and Dr William Pitcairn, 1783; purchased the library, manuscripts, herbarium, and natural history collections made by Linnæus and his father; devoted his studies to natural history, mainly botany; Fellow, Royal Society, 1785; travelled on the continent, visiting eminent naturalists, 1786-1787; medical degree, Leyden, 1786; Founder, 1788, President, 1788-1828, Linnean Society; lectured on botany and zoology, 1788; Lecturer on Botany, Guy's Hospital, 1788; published Sowerby's English Botany , 1790-1814; appointed to manage the Queen's herbarium, and teach her and her daughters botany and zoology, 1791; retired to Norwich, 1796; delivered an annual course of lectures at the Royal Institution, [1796]-1825; knighted, 1814; died, 1828. Publications include: Compendium Floræ Britannicæ (Londini, 1800); Exotic Botany: consisting of coloured figures and scientific descriptions of such new, beautiful, or rare plants as are worthy of cultivation in the gardens of Britain ... The figures by J Sowerby 2 volumes (London, 1804); Remarks on the generic characters of the decandrous papilionaceous plants of New Holland (London, [1804]); An Introduction to physiological and systematical Botany (London, 1807); A Review of the modern state of Botany, with a particular reference to the natural systems of Linnæus and Jussieu. From the second volume of the supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica [Edinburgh, 1817?]; Considerations respecting Cambridge, more particularly relating to its Botanical professorship (London, 1818); A Grammar of Botany, illustrative of artificial, as well as natural classification; with an explanation of Jussieu's system (London, 1821); A Compendium of the English Flora (Longman & Co, London, 1829); The English Flora 5 volumes (London, 1824-36); English Botany, or coloured figures of British Plants. ... The figures by J Sowerby Second edition, edited by J De C Sowerby 12 volumes (London, [1832]-1846).

Archival history

The volume of notes, 1796, was presented to Guy's Hospital Library in 1913 by Dr G Newton Pitt.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Transferred from Guy's Hospital Medical School Library in 2002.

Content & structure

Scope and content

'Lectures on Botany by James Edward Smith, MD FRS, President of the Linnaean Society, delivered in the theatre, Guy's Hospital, 1796'- manuscript volume of 18 lectures, titles include: A general view of the three kingdoms of nature; vegetable anatomy; parts of a plant; the various effects of light upon plants; the seed vessels; the sexual system of plants; the Linnaean system; illustrations of the Linnaean classes and orders. Also contains botanical illustrations 73 folios.

System of arrangement

1 volume

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

Detailed catalogue

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Related units of description

Correspondence and papers of Sir James Edward Smith (reference: Smith papers) and correspondence with James Sowerby, held by the Linnean Society of London; miscellaneous correspondence and papers, 1801-1827 (reference: MSS Sherard), correspondence with John Hawkins, 1801-1815 (reference: MSS Sherard) and correspondence with James and James de Carle Sowerby, 1816-1827 (reference: MSS Sherard), held by Oxford University, Department of Plant Sciences; correspondence, (3 volumes), held by Beinecke Library, Yale University Libraries (reference: d148); lecture notes, held by the National Archives of Scotland (reference: GD253/144); lectures, 1797, held by Oxford University, Magdalen College Archives (reference: MS 603); correspondence with Sir Joseph Banks, 1786-1818, (66 items) [see WR Dawson, The Banks letters, 1958 for their location]; letters to A B Lambert, 1788-1808 (reference: Add MS 28545) and letters to Macvey Napier, 1814-1820 (reference: Add MSS 34611-12 passim) held by the British Library, Manuscript Collections; letters to James Sowerby, 1789-1802, and letters (404) to members of the Sowerby family, 1789-1828 (reference: L Sowerby Coll A), held by the Natural History Museum.

Description control

Archivist's Note

Sources: 'List of Books by Guy's Men in the Wills Library, Guy's Hospital' William Wale, in Guy's Hospital Reports Vol LXVII, 1913; Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives; British Library Public On-line catalogue. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

October 2001. Revised June 2004

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  • Botanists
  • Botany
  • Higher science education
  • Medical education
  • Scientific personnel
  • Scientists

Personal names

  • Smith, Sir, James Edward, 1759-1828, Knight, Botanist

Corporate names

  • Guy's Hospital, London
  • King's College London College Archives


  • Southwark, London, England

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