Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Berkeley, Miles Joseph
BERKELEY, MILES JOSEPH (1803–1889), botanist, born at Biggin, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, on 1 April 1803, was the son of Charles Berkeley of Biggin. From Oundle grammar school he went to Rugby in 1817, and thence in 1821 as a scholar to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1825, proceeding M.A. in 1828. Having taken orders in 1826, he became in 1829 curate at St. John's, Margate. At this period his attention was largely directed to the anatomy of molluscs, and afterwards to seaweeds. In 1833 he became perpetual curate of Apethorpe and Wood Newton, and took up his residence at King's Cliffe, Northamptonshire, until 1868. He became rural dean of Rothwell, and in 1868 vicar of Sibbertoft, near Market Harborough, in the same county. Berkeley's first great work was the volume on fungi in Smith's 'English Flora,' published in 1836, which he followed up by a series of 'Notices of British Fungi,' published, as his zoological papers had been, in the 'Magazine of Zoology and Botany' and, in its continuation, the 'Annals and Magazine of Natural History.' In these, after 1848, he was associated with Christopher Edmund Broome (1812–1886). Between 1844 and 1806 he issued his 'Decades of Fungi,' and about the same period he described, either alone or in conjunction with Broome, the fungi collected by Darwin on the voyage of the Beagle, those brought by Hugh Cuming [q. v.] from the Philippines, those sent by George Henry Kendrick Thwaites [q. v.] from Ceylon, and many other series.
On the establishment of the 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' in 1844, Berkeley became one of its most constant contributors, his most important series of papers in its columns being one on vegetable pathology, written between 1854 and 1867 and never reprinted. On the appointment of the government commission on the potato disease, in 1845, consisting of John Lindley [q. v.], (Sir) Robert John Kane [q. v.], and Lyon Playfair (Baron Playfair) [q. v. Suppl.], Berkeley gave the greatest assistance. In 1867 he published his most comprehensive work, the 'Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany,' a treatise of great originality and lasting influence, which remained the only attempt of the kind for thirty years. 'The Outlines of British Fungology,' published in 1860, with numerous figures, is still one of the most useful handbooks; but his 'Handbook of British Mosses' (1863) was less successful. Between 1865 and 1873 Berkeley described the Fijian fungi for Seemann's 'Flora Vitiensis,' and from 1866 to 1877 he acted as editor of the 'Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society' and botanical director of the society, in which post he distinguished himself alike by his encyclopaedic knowledge and by his urbanity. In 1868 he was president of section D of the British Association, and between 1871 and 1875 he acted as one of the revisers of Griffith and Henfrey's 'Micrographic Dictionary.' Berkeley was also for many years an examiner at the university of London, but deafness and advancing years caused him to retire from scientific work in 1879, when he presented his herbarium of fungi——comprising more than ten thousand species——and his books on the subject, to the Royal Gardens at Kew.
Berkeley became a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1836, and of the Royal Society in 1879; but he had received the royal medal of the latter body in 1863. He was elected an honorary fellow of Christ's College in 1883. He died at his vicarage, Sibbertoft, near Market Harborough, on 30 July 1889. On his death his collection of algæ was added to the Cambridge University herbarium, while his correspondence with Broome from 1841 passed, on the death of that botanist in 1886, to the botanical department of the British Museum. There is a portrait of Berkeley in 'Men of Eminence,' edited by Lovell Reeve and Edward Walford in 1864, and two in the 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' one in 1871, the other in 1879—the former reproduced in 'La Belgique Horticole' for 1872. An oil portrait by James Peel, painted in 1878, was presented by subscription to the Linnean Society. A genus of algæ was named Berkeleya in his honour by Robert Kaye Greville.
The Royal Society's 'Catalogue of Scientific Papers' (i. 295–7, vii. 144, ix. 200) enumerates 108 papers by Berkeley alone, besides seventeen written in conjunction with others. His chief independent works are: 1. 'Gleanings of British Algæ,' 1833, 8vo. 2. 'English Flora ' (vol. vi. 'Fungi'), 1836, 8vo. 3. 'Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany,' 1857, 8vo. 4. 'Outlines of British Fungology,' 1860, 8vo. 6. 'Handbook of British Mosses,' 1863, 8vo.
[Journal of Botany, 1889, pp. 305–8; Annals of Botany, iii. 451–6, with full bibliography; Gardeners' Chronicle, 1871 i. 271, 1879 i. 788; Nature, xl. 371–2; Rugby School Register, 1675–1849, p. 131.]