Sloane Gardens, SW1W

Place Name

Sir Hans Sloane (April 16 1660 – January 11, 1753) was an Anglo-Irish physician and naturalist whose collections formed the basis of the British Museum. He is also credited with inventing chocolate milk. In 1689, Sloane set up a successful medical practice at his home in No 3 Bloomsbury Place – just along the street from the present Museum building. He had a number of wealthy and aristocratic patients, among them Queen Anne and Kings George I and II. He also succeeded Sir Issac Newton as President of the Royal Society, when he was just 27. He built up and catalogued a large botanical collection, bought William Courten’s unique collection of curiosities, acquired a major library. In all the collection amounted to some 71,000 items and went on public view to became the nucleus of the British Museum, which was founded in 1753. He purchased the Manor of Chelsea from the Cheyne family in 1712. David Mills in A Dictionary of London Place Names explains: “Before it was developed, the earlier name for the area was Great Bloody Field, so called from nearby places called Bloody Bridge 1719 (a bridge over Westbourne Brook) and Bloody Gate 1590 (perhaps the scene of a battle of feud in early times).” Sloane was married to Elizabeth Langley Rose, heiress to sugar plantations in Jamaica worked by salves, profits from which contributed substantially to his ability to collect in the ensuing years, in addition to his medical income. In his will, Sloane bequeathed his entire collection to King George II for the nation in return for the payment of £20,000 to his heirs, and on condition that Parliament create a new and freely accessible public museum to house it. His son-in-law Lord Cadogan received part of the estate.


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