Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sims, John

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SIMS, JOHN (1749–1831), botanist and physician, was the son of R. C. Sims, M.D., a member of the Society of Friends, who for sixty years practised at Dunmow, Essex, and was the author of ‘An Essay on the Nature and Constitution of Man,’ London, 1793, 8vo, and of ‘The Constitution and Economy of Man's Nature,’ 1807, 12mo (cf. Smith, Friends' Books, ii. 576). John Sims was born at Canterbury in 1749, and was educated partly at Burford, Oxfordshire, and partly under his father, who was a good classical scholar. In 1770 he proceeded to the university of Edinburgh, and, after passing the session of 1773–4 at Leyden, graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1774, his inaugural dissertation being ‘De usu aquæ frigidæ interno.’ In 1776 he settled in London; in 1779 he was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, and he afterwards became physician to the Surrey Dispensary and to the Princess Charlotte (Memoirs of the late Princess Charlotte, London, 1818, p. 579). He at first declared himself sceptical as to the efficacy of vaccine, but afterwards admitted its utility. He edited Curtis's ‘Botanical Magazine’ from 1801 to 1826 (vols. xiv–xlii.) and from 1805 to 1806, in conjunction with Charles Konig, ‘Annals of Botany.’ Sims was a fellow of the Royal Society and one of the original fellows of the Linnean Society. He died at Dorking, Surrey, on 26 Feb. 1831. An engraved medallion portrait of him forms the frontispiece to the first volume of the ‘Annals of Botany,’ and his name was commemorated by Robert Brown in the Mexican genus of Compositæ, Simsia. His herbarium was purchased by George Bentham, and is now at Kew. He contributed an account of the expansion of Mesembryanthemum under the influence of moisture to the ‘Medical and Physical Journal’ (vol. ii. 1799), and a ‘Description of Amomum exscapum’ to the ‘Annals of Botany’ (vol. i.).

[Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, Supplement; Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 322; Britten and Boulger's Biogr. Index of Botanists.]

G. S. B.