Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker

Halesworth, Waveney District, Suffolk, England
Death 10 Dec 1911 (aged 94)
Sunningdale, Windsor and Maidenhead Royal Borough, Berkshire, England
Burial Kew, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 20898 · View Source
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Botanist. He received international acclaim for his study of geographical botany and his close relationship with Charles Darwin. Following his father's footsteps, he was the director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England from 1865 to 1885. Prior, he had been the assistance director from 1855 to 1865. During his time at the gardens, he re-landscaped the nearly 100-acre grounds and built new hothouses. He received numerous honors for science including being elected as a fellow in 1847 to the Royal Society then serving as president from 1872 to 1877, Knight Commander of the Star of India in 1877, and in 1907 at the bicentenary of Carolus Linnaeus' birth, the Swedish Academy of Science awarded him the single, specially struck Linnean Medal for the “most illustrious living exponent of botanical science.” With his education beginning with him listening to his father's lectures when he was 5 years old, he went to Scotland graduating from the University of Glasgow with a degree in medicine in 1839. The same year, he started his first adventure as surgeon-botanist aboard the ship HMS “Erebus” on James Clark Ross' four-year Antarctic expedition. He followed with another expedition on the HMS “Terror” from 1844 to 1860. A steady flow of publications followed: “Rhododendron of Sikkim-Himalaya in 1849; “Handbook of the New Zealand Flora” in 1864; “The Flora of British India” published in seven volumes from 1872 to 1897 and the “Journal of a Tour in Morocco and The Great Atlas” in 1878. He attributed his physical stamina, which was needed for his adventures, to the manual labor he did earlier in his father's gardens. He was the first western explorer to the eastern Himalaya Mountains since Captain Samuel Turner's embassy to Tibet in 1783, and was shortly imprisoned by the Rajah of Sikkim for exploring where he should not have been. Beautiful Rhododendrons were brought to England by Hooker from this part of the world, yet there were other plants brought to England for more profitable purposes: Rubber seedlings, originally smuggled from Brazil's forests, were sent from Kew to Ceylon and became the foundation of the very successful rubber industry there and later on Malay Peninsula. The last expedition was 1877 to the Rocky Mountains and California in the United States. The trip led to publication of several dissertations about American and Asian floras. All his traveling resulted in him discovering many new species, which were later introduced to the horticultural community and gave him an international reputation a plant geographer. He supported Charles Darwin's theory on natural selection. On July 1, 1858 at the meeting of the Linnean Society, Hooker and Sir Charles Lyell presided over the meeting for the first public reading of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace's papers on natural selection. And evolution. In 1844, Darwin wrote Hooker a letter confessing his theory of evolution, but it was years later that this was shared with the public. Darwin and Hooker were more than colleagues as they exchanged over 1,400 letters, with subjects ranging from the theory of natural selection or evolution to Hooker purging his grief after the death of his five-year-old daughter. In 1948 all the letters, that each wrote, were bound into several large volumes and sent to the Cambridge University Library. He was a pall bearer at Darwin's funeral. He was one of the nine members of Thomas H. Huxley's, X-Club, a group of scientists that met monthly to share ideas for decades in Victorian England. His most successful accomplishment was the 1883 publication of the final volume of “Genera Plantarum,'” which was co-written with George Bentham. Based on his personal examination, the book describes approximately 97,000 species of seed-bearing plants, which were deposited at Kew. He married twice and both times to a daughter of Christian ministers; he had eight children to survive to adulthood. Hooker retired from his position at Kew in 1885, but continued to work on botany until death at the elderly age of 94. Today, with nearly 300-acre grounds, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew remains the largest collections of plants in the world.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 22 Mar 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 20898
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (30 Jun 1817–10 Dec 1911), Find a Grave Memorial no. 20898, citing St Anne Churchyard, Kew, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .