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

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STACKHOUSE, JOHN (1742–1819), botanist, second son of William Stackhouse, D.D. (d. 1771), rector of St. Erme, Cornwall, and nephew of Thomas Stackhouse (1677–1752) [q. v.], was born at Trehane, Cornwall, in 1742. On 20 June 1758 he matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, and was a fellow of the college from 1761 to 1764. On succeeding his relative, Mrs. Grace Percival, sister of Sir William Pendarves, in the Pendarves estates in 1763, he resigned his fellowship, and, after travelling abroad for two or three years, settled on his newly acquired property. In 1804 he resigned that estate to his eldest surviving son, and retired to Bath. From an early period Stackhouse devoted himself to botany, and especially to the study of seaweeds and of the plants mentioned by Theophrastus. About 1775 he erected Acton Castle at Perranuthnoe for the purpose of pursuing his researches in marine algæ. He was one of the early fellows of the Linnean Society, being elected in 1795.

Stackhouse died at his house at Edgar Buildings, Bath, on 22 Nov. 1819. On 21 April 1773 he married Susanna, only daughter and heir of Edward Acton of Acton Scott, Shropshire, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. The eldest son, John, died young. The second, Edward William, assumed the surname of Pendarves in 1815. The third son, Thomas Pendarves, succeeded to the estate of Acton Scott, and assumed the additional surname of Acton in 1834. There is a lithographic portrait of Stackhouse in his ‘Illustrationes Theophrasti’ (1811), which was reissued in a smaller form in his edition of ‘Theophrastus’ (1813); and his name was commemorated by Sir James Edward Smith [q. v.] in the Australian terebinthaceous genus Stackhousia.

Stackhouse's chief works were: ‘Nereis Britannica,’ ‘Illustrationes Theophrasti,’ and his edition of Theophrastus's ‘Historia Plantarum.’ The ‘Nereis Britannica,’ which was issued in parts, deals mainly with the sea-wracks or fuci, and was based on his own researches, together with those of his friends, Thomas Jenkinson Woodward, Dawson Turner, Dr. Samuel Goodenough (afterwards bishop of Carlisle), Lilly Wigg, John Pitchford, and Colonel Thomas Velley, and the herbaria of Dillenius, Bobart, and Linnæus. The complete work, which was published in folio at Bath, with Latin and English text and twelve coloured plates by the author, appeared in 1795. An enlarged edition, with twenty-four coloured plates, was published at Bath in 1801, in folio; and another at Oxford in 1816, in quarto, with Latin text only and twenty plates. The ‘Illustrationes Theophrasti in usum Botanicorum præcipue peregrinantium,’ Oxford, 1811, 8vo, contains a lexicon and three catalogues giving the Linnæan names of the plants mentioned. The edition of ‘Theophrasti Eresii de Historia Plantarum libri decem,’ ‘perhaps the most unsatisfactory’ ever published (Jackson, Guide to the Literature of Botany, p. 22), in 2 vols. 8vo, 1813 and 1814, contains the Greek text, Latin notes, a glossary and Greek-Latin and Latin-Greek catalogues of the plants. From this Stackhouse reprinted in a separate form ‘De Libanoto, Smyrna, et Balsamo Theophrasti Notitiæ,’ with prefatory ‘Extracts’ from Bruce's ‘Travels in Abyssinia,’ Bath, 1815, 8vo. Two papers by Stackhouse were published in the ‘Transactions of the Linnean Society’ (vols. iii. and v.), dated 1795 and 1798, two in the ‘Classical Journal,’ dated 1815 and 1816 (xi. 154–5, xiii. 445–8, xiv. 289–93), and one, entitled ‘Tentamen Marino-cryptogamicum,’ and dated Bath, 1807, in the ‘Mémoires de la Société des Naturalistes’ of Moscow, of which society he was a fellow (1809, ii. 50–97). Stackhouse also contributed a translation in English verse to the second edition of the Abbate Alberto Fortis's ‘Dei Cataclismi sofferti dal nostro pianeta, saggio poetico’ (London, 1786), and he made several contributions to Coxe's ‘Life of Stillingfleet.’

[Gent. Mag. 1820, i. 88, and works above quoted; Boase's Registrum Coll. Exon., Oxford Hist. Soc. Publications, xxvii. 148; Monkland's Suppl. to Literature and Literati of Bath, 1855, p. 64; Polwhele's Biogr. Sketches in Cornwall, 1831, i. 12–17; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 682; Boase's Collectan. Cornub. pp. 923–4.]

G. S. B.