Whatever happened to . . .

In Taken Aback, Dr. Hans Sloane is a novice physician in his mid-twenties. Just four years after completing his degree at the University of Orange, he became a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1687 and in that same year accepted the position of personal physician to the Duke of Albemarle, the new governor of Jamaica. The adventure was not only a considerable step-up in his career; it also offered a completely new world from which to collect specimens. An avid amasser of flora, fauna, and oddities of all sorts since childhood, Sloane was in his element. But his adventure in Jamaica lasted only fifteen months. Upon his return to London, Sloane's reputation and well-placed referrals catapulted him to elevated status. Physician to the highest socialites, including three monarchs, he accumulated enough wealth to purchase the Manor of Chelsea in 1712.
Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1716, he was awarded a baronetcy. This is an inherited title but Sloane's only son died in infancy. Sir Hans Sloane was the first and last Baronet of Chelsea. Sloane became President of the Royal College of Physicians at the age of forty-one and held that position for sixteen years. Five years after he was appointed Physician-General to the army in 1722, he advanced to First Physician to King George II and followed Sir Isaac Newton to the position of President of the Royal Society. Sloane retired in 1741 at the age of eighty and became a Founding Governor of Britain's first institute for abandoned children, The Foundling Hospital of London. He died in Chelsea in 1753 at the ripe old age of ninety-two! Upon his death, he donated his collection to the nation with the stipulation that parliament pay 20,000 Pounds to his executors. All things considered, that was quite a bargain. The collection of 71,000 items plus King George II's library became the foundation of the British Museum, opened to the public in 1759. More than a hundred years later, Sloane's "extensive collection of curiosities" became the basis of my favorite place in London, the Natural History Museum. The man definitely left his mark! Today, I see signs all over London: Sloane Square, Sloane Place, Sloane Gardens, Sloane Street, and on the corner of the Harrods building in Knightsbridge a sign reads - Hans Crescent. For another point of view of the life of Sir Hans Sloane, read BBC's Lisa Jardine account:    
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