Collection TitleWilliam Bromfield Papers
TitleWilliam Bromfield Papers
DescriptionConsists of two journals, with accounts of travel in America and the West Indies (in 1846-1847 and 1844 respectively); two manuscripts (Mss.); one annotated map (published 1810) and eleven volumes of Bromfield's botanical work, Flora Vectensis (edited and published posthumously by Thomas Salter Bell and W.J. Hooker in 1856).
Creator NameBromfield, William Arnold (1801-1851)
Extent15 volumes and 1 map
Administrative HistoryWilliam Arnold Bromfield was born in the New Forest on the 4th July 1801, the only son of the priest, John Arnold Bromfield (c.1770-1801) and the grandson of the physician and Royal Society fellow, Robert Bromfield (d. 1786). Aged 20 he entered Glasgow University studying medicine. In this period anyone wishing to practise medicine had to be licensed by the Society of Apothecaries and for this knowledge of herbs and medicinal use was essential. In order to attain this knowledge Bromfield studied under the then Professor of Botany of Glasgow, Sir William Hooker.

Upon his father's death, Bromfield gained an inheritance that would fund his subsequent botanic research and travel, which lead to him not pursuing a career in medicine. After graduating in 1826 he travelled on the Continent in France, Germany and Italy before returning and setting up home with his sister. The pair finally settled in Ryde in 1836.

A preliminary version of Bromfield's Flora Hantoniensis was published in the New Physiologist between 1848 and 1850, though he never considered his flora for the Isle of Wight, the Flora Vectensis to be ready for publication. He continued to travel widely, visiting Ireland in 1842, the West Indies in 1844 and North America in 1846. His observations on climate and plant life in the USA were in fact used in Hooker's Journal of Botany (1848-1849). Finally in 1850 Bromfield journeyed East, to Egypt and Syria. Letters written to his sister from this period were posthumously published, following Bromfield's death from typhus in Damascus on October 9th 1851.
Custodial HistoryThe material was given to Kew as a gift by Miss Bromfield, sister of the Botanist following his death, in 1851. Bromfield's Flora Vectensis was given to its editors Hooker and Bell Salter following her brother's death. The two botanists sought to sympathetically 'fill out' the somewhat fragmentary nature of Bromfield's work, using quotations from other words to create the Flora, a practice Bromfield had also followed. These manuscript volumes were also presented to Kew by Miss Bromfield.
ArrangementThe collection has been arranged into three series relating to Bromfield's journals and manuscripts, FLORA VECTENSIS manuscript and an annotated map showing the Isle of Wight.
Manuscript papers
Physical Description14 volumes and 1 map.
Related MaterialA number of volumes were donated to the library, along with those to the archive, or as annotated in one volume 'For the Herbarium library Kew', 'Presented by Miss Bromfield, December 1856' (inscription note from Letters from Egypt and Syria, London, 1856). The volumes given and still held in the library at Kew are as follows-
'A list of plants likely to be found growing wild in the Isle of Wight' W.A. Bromfield (Ryde 1840).
'Notes and occasional observations on some of the rarer British plants growing wild in Hampshire' W.A. Bromfield (London, 1848-1850).
'A catalogue of flowering plants and ferns, growing wild in the Isle of Wight: to serve as an index to the Herbarium of Dr Bromfield, in the museum of the Isle of Wight Philosophical Society and shewing the rarer species' W.A. Bromfield (posthumously published by A.G. More (Ryde 1868).
The Archive also holds a related volume entitled 'Catalogue of Books Presented by Miss Bromfield and by G. Bentham'. The volume contains information about the volumes presented by Miss Bromfield to RBG Kew in 1853 following her brother's death two years earlier.

Following his death Bromfield's sister gave part of his herbarium collection to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (where it was absorbed into the existing collection) and the rest to the Isle of Wight Philosophical and Historical Society in Ryde. Following the dissolving of the society by 1908 the collection was housed in a number of different places before it was finally collected by Dr Chris Palmer, Senior Keeper of Natural Sciences at the Hampshire Museums Services. The herbarium was then moved to Winchester where it was quarantined and conserved and now remains.
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