Dancer, Thomas (DNB00)

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DANCER, THOMAS, M.D. (1755?–1810), botanist, was in 1780 physician to the expedition which left Jamaica in February of that year for ‘Fort San Juan’ (? d'Ulloa). On his return to Jamaica he published an account of the capture of the fort, and the subsequent mortality of the troops, consequent upon the utter absence of sanitation. Appointed physician to the Bath waters he brought out in 1784 a small octavo on the virtues of the waters, appending two pages of catalogue of the rarer plants cultivated in the garden there. A full list was issued in 1792, from which we learn that he introduced many plants in the two years previous, some of which he owed to his correspondence with Sir Joseph Banks. In 1804 he printed a small tract, ‘ Some Observations respecting the Botanic Garden,’ recounting its history and removals, and making suggestions for its better support; but his proposals not being adopted by the House of Assembly, he resigned his position as ‘island botanist.’ His most important publication was a quarto volume, ‘Medical Assistant, or Jamaica Practice of Physic,’ 1801, which was anonymously attacked by an ex-official named Fitzgerald, in a professed reprint in the ‘Royal Jamaica Gazette’ of a critique in the ‘Edinburgh Review.’ The last literary effort of Dancer was to expose this fiction. He died at Kingston 1 Aug. 1810.

[Prefaces, &c., of Dancer's works; Gent. Mag. 1811, lxxxi. pt. ii. 390.]

B. D. J.