Boate, Gerard (DNB00)

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BOATE, DE BOOT, BOOTIUS, or BOTIUS, GERARD (1604–1650), physician, brother of Arnold Boate [q. v.], was born at Gorcum, Holland, in 1604. He entered the university of Leyden as a medical student 21 June 1628, and graduated there as doctor of medicine 3 July 1628. In 1630 he published a book styled ‘Horæ Jucundæ.’ Boate settled in London, was employed as physician to the king, and, in conjunction with his brother Arnold, produced the treatise on philosophy, already mentioned as published in 1641. He became a contributor to the fund under the English act of parliament of 1642, which admitted the Dutch to subscribe money for the reduction of the Irish, to be subsequently repaid by grant of forfeited lands in Ireland. With a view to augmenting the interest of ‘adventurers’ for Irish lands, he undertook the compilation of a work to supply information on the profits to be derived from the various productions of that country. Boate had never visited Ireland, but materials for his work were furnished by his brother Arnold and by some of the English who had been ejected from Irish lands sometime occupied by them. Boate commenced the ‘Natural History’ early in 1645 and completed it within the year, but its publication was deferred. He was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians 6 Nov. 1646. In April 1649 the appointment of Boate as doctor to the hospital at Dublin was referred by the council of state at London to Oliver Cromwell, who in the preceding month had been appointed commander-in-chief for Ireland. The treasurer-at-war in the following September paid Boate fifty pounds ‘on account of his entertainment as physician for Ireland.’ Boate arrived in Ireland at the latter end of 1649, while Cromwell was in command there, but he survived only a short time. He died in January 1649–50.

Boate's papers and his ‘Natural History’ left behind him in London came into the hands of Milton's friend, Samuel Hartlib, a Pole, resident in England. With the assent of Arnold Boate, then at Paris, the ‘Natural History’ was published at London in 1652 by Hartlib, with a dedication to Oliver Cromwell and to Charles Fleetwood, commander-in-chief in Ireland. It bore the title: ‘Ireland's Naturall History. Being a true and ample description of its situation, greatness, shape, and nature; of its hills, woods, heaths, bogs; of its fruitfull parts and profitable grounds, with the severall ways of manuring and improving the same; with its heads or promontories, harbours, roades, and bayes; of its springs and fountaines, brookes, rivers, loghs; of its metalls, mineralls, freestone, marble, sea-coal, turf, and other things that are taken out of the ground. And lastly of the nature and temperature of its air and season, and what diseases it is free from or subject unto. Conducing to the advancement of navigation, husbandry, and other profitable arts and professions. Written by Gerard Boate, late Doctor of Physick to the State in Ireland, and now published by Samuel Hartlib, Esq., for the common good of Ireland, and more especially for the benefit of the Adventurers and Planters there.’ In his dedication to Cromwell and Fleetwood, Hartlib observed: ‘I lookt also somewhat upon the hopefull appearance of replanting Ireland shortly, not only by the adventurers, but happily by the calling in of exiled Bohemians and other Protestants also, and happily by the invitation of some well affected out of the Low Countries, which to advance are thoughts suitable to your noble genius, and to further the settlement thereof, the Natural History of that countrie will not be unfit, but very subservient.’ The ‘Natural History’ is divided into twenty-four chapters. In a letter, dated Paris, 10 Aug., prefixed to the volume and addressed to Hartlib, Arnold Boate stated that his brother had contemplated three more books on the plants, ‘living creatures,’ and natives of Ireland respectively.

A French version, under the title of ‘Histoire Naturelle d'Irlande,’ was published at Paris in 1666. In relation to the work the author of a defective and inaccurate notice of Boate in the ‘Grand Dictionnaire’ of Moreri, observed: ‘Il y a peu d'ouvrages mieux exécutés dans ce genre. Il serait à souhaiter que nous eussions une histoire dressée sur le même plan de tous les pays du monde, au moins de ceux de l'Europe.’ In repayment of Gerard Boate's contributions in money above mentioned, his relict, Katherine Boate, obtained, under certificate dated 15 Nov. 1667, upwards of one thousand acres of land in Tipperary. A quarto edition of the ‘Natural History’ by Boate was published at Dublin in 1726, and reissued there in 1755. It was again published in the first volume of a ‘Collection of Tracts and Treatises illustrative of the Natural History, Antiquities, and Political and Social State of Ireland,’ 8vo, Dublin, 1860. No edition of Boate's ‘Natural History’ has hitherto been published with annotations or additions.

[Bibliotheca Belgica, cura I. F. Foppens, 1739; Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, London, 1857; Munk's College of Physicians, i. 243; Ashburnham MSS., Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, H. iv. 2; MS. Records of Proceedings under Act of Setlement, Public Record Office, Ireland; Le Grand Dictionnaire historique, par Louis Moreri, Paris, 1759, tome ii. p. 78.]

J. T. G.