1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sibthorp, John

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SIBTHORP, JOHN (1758–1796), English botanist, was born at Oxford on the 28th of October 1758, and was the youngest son of Dr Humphrey Sibthorp (1713–1797), who from 1747 to 1784 was Sherardian professor of botany at Oxford. He graduated at Oxford in 1777, and then studied medicine at Edinburgh and Montpellier. In 1784 he succeeded his father in the Sherardian chair. Leaving his professional duties to a deputy he left England for Göttingen and Vienna, in preparation for a botanical tour in Greece (1786). Returning to England at the end of the following year he took part in the foundation of the Linnaean Society in 1788, and set to work on a flora of Oxfordshire, which was published in 1794 as Flora Oxoniensis. He made a second journey to Greece, but developed consumption on the way home and died at Bath on the 8th of February 1796. By his will he bequeathed his books on natural history and agriculture to Oxford university, where also he founded the Sibthorpian professorship of rural economy, attaching it to the chair of botany. He directed that the endowment should first be applied to the publication of his Flora Graeca and Florae Graecae Prodromus, for which, however, he had done little beyond collecting some three thousand species and providing the plates. The task of preparing the works was undertaken by Sir J. E. Smith, who issued the two volumes of the Prodromus in 1806 and 1813, and six volumes of the Flora Graeca between 1806 and 1828. The seventh appeared in 1830, after Smith’s death, and the remaining three were produced by John Lindley between 1833 and 1840.

Another member of the family, Ralph Waldo Sibthorp (1792–1879), a grandson of Dr Humphrey Sibthorp, was a well-known English divine. He was educated at Oxford and took Anglican orders in 1815. He became known as a prominent “evangelical” in London, but in 1841 was received into the Roman Church. Two years later he returned to the Anglican Church, though he was not readmitted to the ministry till 1857. Finally he re-entered the Roman communion in 1865, but on his death in 1879 he was, by his own request, buried according to the service of the English Church. His elder brother, Colonel Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorp (1783–1855), represented Lincoln in parliament from 1826 until his death, except for a short period in 1833–1834, and was notorious for the vigour with which he expressed his opinions and for his opposition to the Catholic Emancipation Bill and the Reform Bill. The eldest son of Colonel Sibthorp, Gervaise Tottenham Waldo Sibthorp (1815–1861), was also M.P. for Lincoln.