Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sherard, James

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SHERARD, JAMES (1666–1738), physician and botanist, son of George Sherard or Sherwood of Bushby in Leicestershire, and Mary, his second wife, was born on 1 July 1666. William Sherard [q. v.] was his brother. On 7 Feb. 1682 he was apprenticed to Charles Watts, an apothecary, who was curator of the botanical gardens at Chelsea. Sherard under Watts's guidance devoted himself to botany; but he at the same time worked hard as an apothecary, and by many years' practice in Mark Lane, London, accumulated an ample fortune. He retired from the business about 1720. He purchased the manors of Evington and Settle in Leicestershire, but he chiefly resided at Eltham in Kent, where he pursued the cultivation of valuable and rare plants and his garden became noted as one of the finest in England. A curious catalogue of his collection was published by Dillenius in 1732 as ‘Hortus Elthamensis, sive Plantarum Rariorum quas in Horto suo Elthami in Cantio collegit vir ornatissimus et præstantissimus Jac. Sherard, M.D., Reg. Soc. et Coll. Med. Lond. Soc. Catalogus’ (cf. Nichols, Illustrations, i. 403, for some interesting letters from Sherard to Richardson).

In 1728, as executor of his brother William's will, Sherard carried into effect his brother's endowment of a professorship of botany in the university of Oxford, the nomination of the professor being entrusted to the College of Physicians of London. His administration of the trust led the university of Oxford to confer upon him the degree of doctor of medicine, by diploma dated 2 July 1731, and the College of Physicians to admit him on 30 Sept. 1732 to their fellowship without examination and without the payment of fees. He died on 12 Feb. 1738, and was buried in the church of Evington, near Leicester. A marble tablet, with Latin inscription, was placed by his widow in the chancel of the church. He left a fortune of 150,000l. He married Susanna, daughter of Richard Lockwood, but had no issue. His wife died on 27 Nov. 1741.

Sherard was singularly accomplished. In addition to being an excellent botanist, he was an accomplished amateur musician and violinist. He composed twenty-four sonatas, twelve for the violin, violoncello, and bass, extended for the harpsichord.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys.; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Gent. Mag. 1796, ii. 810; Semple's Memories Bot. Garden, Chelsea; Journ. Bot. 1874, p. 133; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 651; Britten and Boulger's Brit. and Irish Botanists.]

W. W. W.