Uvedale, Robert (DNB00)

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UVEDALE, ROBERT (1642–1722), schoolmaster and horticulturist, son of Robert Uvedale of Westminster, a scion of the Dorset branch of the family (Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, 3rd ed. iii. 144 et seq.), was born in the parish of St. Margaret's, Westminster, on 25 May 1642. He was educated at St. Peter's College, Westminster, under Dr. Busby, having probably as contemporaries Locke, Dryden (with whom he afterwards collaborated), and Leonard Plukenet [q. v.], who speaks of him (Phytographia, 1691, tab. xxxii., sub fig. 6) as his ‘condiscipulus.’ At the funeral of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 Uvedale is said to have snatched one of the escutcheons from the bier of the Protector, which was long preserved in his family (Gent. Mag. 1792 p. 114, 1794 p. 19). In April 1659 Uvedale was elected queen's scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, his name being then registered as Udall (Welch and Phillimore, Queen's Scholars at Westminster, 1852, p. 152, where he is erroneously styled ‘an eminent schoolmaster at Fulham’), though on his graduation in 1662 it was apparently entered as Uvedall (Luard, Graduati Cantabrigienses, in which work his sons and grandsons appear as Uvedale). He was elected fellow of Trinity College in 1664, and is said to have been first a divinity fellow, and afterwards a law fellow, having ‘the singular honour of carrying his point against a no less powerful competitor than Sir Isaac Newton’ (Correspondence of Richard Richardson, M.D., 1835, p. 15, note by Dawson Turner). Dawson Turner relates that ‘the master, Dr. Barrow, declared in his favour, saying that, as they were equal in literary attainments, he must give the prize to the senior.’ Newton was, however, elected fellow in October 1667, and Barrow did not become master until 1672.

Between 1663 and 1665 Uvedale became master of the grammar school at Enfield, Middlesex, and took a lease of the manor-house commonly called Queen Elizabeth's Palace (now the Palace School), in order to take boarders. During the outbreak of the plague in 1665 the whole of Uvedale's household escaped the disease, owing, it was thought, to their inhaling the vapour of vinegar poured over a red-hot brick. Tradition assigns to 1670 or thereabouts the planting of the still flourishing Enfield cedar, which is said to have been brought to Uvedale from Mount Lebanon by one of his former pupils. In 1676 it was made a ground of complaint against Uvedale that he neglected the grammar school for his boarders, his opponents making the further curious charge against him of having obtained an appointment as an actor and comedian at the Theatre Royal from the lord chamberlain to protect himself from the execution of a writ (Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 285). Among his pupils were Henry, third lord Coleraine; Francis, earl of Huntingdon; Robert, viscount Kilmorey, who died at the school in 1717; Sir Jeremy Sambroke, William Sloane, and another nephew of Sir Hans (Sloane MS. 4064). Uvedale, who had proceeded M.A. in 1666, became LL.D. of Cambridge in 1682, and was invited to contribute the life of Dion to the translation of Plutarch, edited by Dryden, Somers, and others, published between 1683 and 1686. Uvedale's portion appeared in 1684.

As a horticulturist Uvedale earned a reputation for his skill in cultivating exotics, being one of the earliest possessors of hothouses in England. In an ‘Account of several Gardens near London’ written by J. Gibson in 1691 (Archæologia, 1794, xii. 188), the writer says: ‘Dr. Uvedale of Enfield is a great lover of plants, and, having an extraordinary art in managing them, is become master of the greatest and choicest collection of exotic greens that is perhaps anywhere in this land. His greens take up six or seven houses or roomsteads. His orange-trees and largest myrtles fill up his biggest house, and … those more nice and curious plants that need closer keeping are in warmer rooms, and some of them stoved when he thinks fit. His flowers are choice, his stock numerous, and his culture of them very methodical and curious.’ In 1696 his neighbour, Archbishop Tillotson, appointed Uvedale to the rectory of Orpington, Kent, with the chapelry of St. Mary Cray, but he appears not to have resided. In Nichols's ‘Literary Illustrations’ (iii. 321–51) are sixty letters from Uvedale to Dr. Richardson of North Bierley, bearing date between 1695 and 1721, mainly referring to the exchange of plants. In May 1699 he writes of seventeen of his household having had the small-pox within the preceding three months, eleven, including six of his own children, being down together; and in December 1721, when over seventy-nine, he speaks of being attacked for the first time by gout, so that his garden was neglected, all the exercise he could take being ‘rumbling about four or five miles every day before dinner in [his] chariot,’ and his chief remaining pleasure consisting ‘in turning over’ his ‘Hortus Siccus.’ He died at Enfield on 17 Aug. 1722, and was buried in the parish church.

Uvedale married Mary (1656–1740), second daughter of Edward Stephens of Charrington, Gloucestershire, granddaughter of Sir Matthew Hale. By her he had five daughters and three sons: Robert Uvedale, D.D., fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, vicar of Enfield from 1721 till his death in 1731; James Uvedale, M.A., rector of Bishop's Cleeve, Gloucestershire; and Samuel Uvedale, B.A., rector of Barking, Suffolk, and father of Admiral Samuel Uvedale (d. 1808), who served with Rodney.

After his death Uvedale's growing plants were mostly sold to Sir Robert Walpole for his collection at Houghton (Loudon, Arboretum, p. 61), while his herbarium, in fourteen thick volumes, forms vols. 302–15 of the Sloane collection. It contains plants not only from Sherard, Richardson, Petiver, Plukenet, Robart, Rand, Dale, Doody, Sloane, and Du Bois, but also from Tournefort, Magnol, Vaillant, and other continental botanists, carefully labelled by Uvedale, who was obviously a botanist, and not, as Dawson Turner suggests (loc. cit.), merely a florist. Petiver founded a genus Uvedalia in Uvedale's honour, which, however, became Polymnia Uvedalia of Linné, and Robert Brown gave the same name to a group merged by De Candolle in the genus Mimulus, one species being unhappily named M. Uvedaliæ.

Thomas Uvedale (fl. 1712), brother of the preceding, published in an English translation ‘Memoirs of Philip de Comines,’ London, 2 vols. 1712, 8vo (2nd ed. 1720; reissued in ‘Military Classics,’ 1817). He resided at Hampton Wick, and there are two letters from him to Sloane in the British Museum (Sloane MS. 4064), and some plants, endorsed as from ‘Dr. Uvedale, Hampton Court,’ in the twelfth volume of Sloane's ‘Herbarium.’

[Robinson's Hist. of Enfield, pp. 103–18; Journal of Botany, 1891, pp. 9–18, and other authorities there cited.]

G. S. B.