Sweet, Robert (DNB00)

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SWEET, ROBERT (1783–1835), horticulturist, the son of William Sweet and his wife Mary, was born in 1783 at Cockington, near Torquay, Devonshire. When sixteen years old he was placed under his half-brother, James Sweet, at that time gardener to Richard Bright of Ham Green, near Bristol, with whom he remained nine years. He subsequently had charge of the collection of plants at Woodlands, the residence of John Julius Angerstein [q. v.]

In 1810 Sweet entered as a partner in the Stockwell nursery, and when that was dissolved in 1815, became foreman to Messrs. Whitley, Brames, & Milne, nurserymen, of Fulham, till 1819, when he entered the service of Messrs. Colvill. While in their employ he was charged with having received a box of plants knowing them to have been stolen from the royal gardens, Kew, but was acquitted after trial at the Old Bailey on 24 Feb. 1824. In 1826 he left the Colvills, and till 1831 occupied himself almost wholly in the production of botanical works, while still cultivating a limited number of plants in his garden at Parson's Green, Fulham. In 1830 he moved to Chelsea, where he had a larger garden and cultivated for sale to his friends.

In June 1831 his brain gave way. He died on 20 Jan. 1835, leaving a widow but no family. He had been elected a fellow of the Linnean Society on 14 Feb. 1812. The botanical genus Sweetia was named in his honour by De Candolle in 1825.

Sweet was author of: 1. ‘Hortus Suburbanus Londinensis,’ 8vo, London, 1818. 2. ‘Geraniaceæ,’ 5 vols. 8vo, London, 1820–1830. 3. ‘The Botanical Cultivator,’ 8vo, London, 1821; 2nd edit. entitled ‘The Hothouse and Greenhouse Manual,’ 12mo, 1825; 5th edit., 8vo, 1831. 4. ‘The British Warblers,’ 8vo, London, 1823. 5. ‘The British Flower Garden,’ 8vo, London, 1823–9; 2nd series, 1831–8. 6. ‘Cistineæ,’ 8vo, London, 1825–30. 7. ‘Sweet's Hortus Britannicus,’ 4to, London (1826)–7; 2nd edit. 1830; 3rd edit. 1839. 8. ‘Flora Australasica,’ 8vo, London, 1827–8; the original drawings for which, by E. D. Smith, are in the botanical department of the Natural History Museum. 9. ‘The Florist's Guide and Cultivator's Directory,’ 2 vols. 4to, London, 1827–32. 10. In conjunction with H. Weddell, ‘British Botany,’ No. 1, 4to, London, 1831.

[Gardeners' Mag. xi. 159, with bibliography; Mag. Nat. Hist. viii. 410; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

B. B. W.