Collection TitleSir William Hooker Papers
TitleSir William Hooker Papers
DescriptionThis collection comprises nine series. The first consists of catalogues and inventories which are mainly of Sir William's Library and Herbarium (WJH/1). The second series (WJH/2) contains Hooker's correspondence, mainly to significant botanists such as William Henry Harvey and George Bentham, and friends. The third series (WJH/3) comprises artworks, including sketches, etchings and botanical drawings. The fourth series (WJH/4) comprises lecture notes on introductory level botany. The fifth series (WJH/5) holds memoranda: one in the form of a notebook on the natural history of Yarmouth and the other concerning his library and herbarium. The sixth series (WJH/6) consists of one file which is a travel journal/diary. The seventh series (WJH/7) includes printed reports: a Director's report on the Gardens and a report on the publication of 'Colonial Floras'. The eighth series (WJH/8) contains diplomas awarded to Hooker and the ninth (WJH/9) contains the volume written by W J Hooker listing Indian plants as identified by William Roxburgh.
Creator NameHooker, William Jackson, Sir (1785-1865)
DateJuly 1822
Administrative HistorySir William Jackson Hooker was born in Norwich, July 6th 1785. His interest in botany developed early - he discovered the moss Buxbaumia aphylla in 1805 and the positive response he received encouraged his interest. He determined to concentrate his energies on the pursuit of botany and its associated activities, including using his great gift for botanical drawing. He was later elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society when only 21. During this formative period he met other prominent naturalists such as Robert Brown, Joseph Banks and Dawson Turner. In1809 he made a botanic expedition to Iceland, but his collections and accompanying writing and drawings were all lost in a fire on board. On his return he joined a partnership with Dawson Turner in a brewing business in Halesworth, Suffolk. It was not a particularly profitable investment. In 1814, after a nine month botanical expedition through France, Switzerland and Italy, he married Turner's daughter, Maria Sarah, in 1815. After collaborating with Turner on the production of Historia Fucorum and beginning the illustrated British Jungermanniae in 1816, he took the seat of Regius Professor of Botany at University of Glasgow in 1820, which provided him with the financial security he felt he needed. Here he developed his Herbarium and Library, and as well as teaching, produced many publications. He developed good relationships with the Foreign and Colonial Office, the East India Company and the Admiralty. Via these connections he was able to send many of his students on Government expeditions; in return, his ex-students sent additions for the Herbarium. All the while he maintained a huge correspondence with leading botanists and other individuals. In 1836 he was knighted for his services to botany. Despite his success at Glasgow, he was keen to return to England, to be at the heart of botanical developments.

By 1838, the Botanic Gardens at Kew were in decline. Dr. John Lindley (1799-1865, Professor of Botany at University College London from 1829 - 1860) reported to Parliament, recommending that the Gardens should be transferred to the state as the National Botanic Garden. Hooker was keen to become Director; after obtaining the backing of prominent figures such as the Duke of Bedford, he was recommended for the post. The Treasury approved the transfer of Kew from the Lord Steward's dept. to the Office of Woods and Forests on 25 June 1840.

In 1841, William Aiton (1766-1849, superintendent at Kew from1793 and a founder member of the Horticultural Society of London) relinquished control of the gardens to Sir William. Hooker wished to expand the acreage of the gardens and also to develop the palm house. He immediately implemented some changes: the first one was to allow the public to walk unaccompanied around the grounds. In 1843, 45 acres of the Pleasure Grounds were added and in 1844, the construction of a new palm house was started, from plans by Decimus Burton & Richard Turner. The rest of the Pleasure Grounds and the old Deer Park were added to the Gardens in 1845. The new Palm House was completed in 1848 and in this year, Hooker developed a Museum of Economic Botany, another of his passions, in the Old Fruit Store. A further museum was opened in 1863 in the Orangery.

In 1852, William Hooker left his home at West House, Mortlake and moved to Kew Green. He finally established the Herbarium and Library on the ground floor of Hanover House the other side of the Green. The herbaria and libraries of leading botanists George Bentham (1800-1884, President of the Linnean Society 1861-74) and William Arnold Bromfield (1801-1851) were also added, making Kew a major research centre. During this period, he continued with the editorship of periodicals begun in Glasgow. He developed his interest in ferns, publishing among others the 5 volume Species Filicum between 1846-64. He also wrote Century of Ferns 1854, British Ferns 1861 and Garden Ferns 1862. Many of the plates were created by Hooker although after 1835, he often relied on the talents of his favourite artist, Walter Fitch.In 1862, Hooker wrote a memorandum asking for his library and herbarium to be bought by the Government for Kew and in 1863 he discussed a project with George Bentham for the continual publication of Colonial & Dominion floras, which had been started in 1859. He died in 1865, and his son, Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911), a successful plant collector, took over as the second Director of Kew.
Custodial HistorySir William Hooker requested that his correspondence and papers, as well as his herbarium and library, be bought by the Government for the Royal Botanic Gardens. After his death, his son Joseph (Kew Director 1865-1885), assessed their value. They were bought for the nation and deposited at Kew in October 1866.
WJH/2/13: These copies of typed transcripts were given by Garry J Tee of the George Grey Collection at the Auckland Public Library. WJH/2/16: Three letters in this file (copies of originals) were given by George Hooker. WJH/2/17 are copies of originals presented to Kew by B D Porritt, from the Research Association of British Rubber & Tyre Manufacturer in Croydon, on 9 Feb 1925. WJH/2/18: The copies in this file were donated by GP Barker. WJH/2/19: These copies of original letters were given by the Staats Und Universitats-Bibliothek, Hamburg.. WJH/2/21/1-2, Accession No. QX-06-0005, were found in the Herbarium at Kew in January 2006. WJH/2/21/3-4, Accession No. PrP 96-0023 are copies of originals in the possession of George Hooker of Canaan, CT, U.S.A., and given to Kew c 1989 by Mr G Hooker himself.
WJH/3/1: This sketchbook was deposited by Mrs M G Lewis of Hythe, Kent on 7 May 1960. Mrs Lewis was the grand-daughter of William Borrer, to whose mother William Hooker had originally presented the sketch book.
WJH/2/16/8 was purchased by the archives from Henry Bristow (PrP 97-0017), WJH/2/16/6 was given to the Archives by Eric A Dunlop (PrP 99-0013) and WJH/2/19 was sent by Dr Dietrich Roth.
SeriesThe collection contains 9 series- WJH/1: Catalogues and Inventories, WJH/2: Correspondence, WJH/3: Artworks, WJH/4: Lectures, WJH/5: Memoranda, WJH/6: Journals, WJH/7: Printed Reports, WJH/8: Diplomas and Certificates, WJH/9: Roxburgh Flora Indica manuscript.
ArrangementOrganised by record type
LanguageEnglish, French
FormatManuscript papers
Related MaterialFurther material relating to Sir W Hooker can be found in the following-
Spruce collection - RSP/2/2: Correspondence c.1845-1880 and RSP/2/3: Letters to R. Spruce c.1842-19 Jan 1934 (ff 92-149)
Banks collection - JBK/1/7: Banks Letters Vol 2.: 1800s-1820s (ff 334-336, 360)
Letters to W Mitten 1848-1905 (f. 169)
Letters to Lindley A-K (ff.422-485)
Henslow Correspondence (ff.152A-153FFF)
Munro Correspondence (f.139)
Boott description and correspondence (f. 613)
T Cooper miscellaneous letters and papers 1859-1862 (f. 29)
Kew Herbarium presentations to 1900 (ff. 368-426)
Kew Collectors collection - KCL/6/1: Joseph Burke vol. II 1839-1842
KCL/8/4: Kew Collectors VIa Cunningham miscellaneous 1816-1838 folio i 109-188 (186-189)
KCL/10/6: Richard Oldham vol IV 1861-1864 (ff.1-48)
KCL/11/1: William Purdie vol V 1843-1856 (ff.22-23)
KCL/12/1: Berthold Carl Seemann Vol VII bis 1846-1857 (f.77)
KCL/13/1: Charles Wilford vol VIII 1857-1863 (ff. 9-12, 26-28, 39, 43, 45, 50, 53-55, 61-65, 79, 90, 91-93
Joseph Hooker correspondence: JDH/2/3/8 and JDH/2/3/9
Published material is available from the Kew Library Catalogue.
CopiesMicrofilm copies have been made of the following files-
WJH/2/9: Letters to Dr. WH Harvey 1832-1860
WJH/2/5: WJH/2/6: Letters to George Bentham, 2 volumes, 1823-1862
WJH/2/1: WJH/2/3 Letters from Sir William Hooker, 3 volumes, 1805-1851,
WJH/2/7: Letters to Sir J Richardson, 1819-1843,
The original copy of WJH/1/3 can be found in Directors Correspondence vol. 17 (f.184)
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2019