Collection SAD - Sadler, John (Principal Gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens, 1879-1882)

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Sadler, John (Principal Gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens, 1879-1882)


  • 1837 - 1882 (Creation)

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Small collection; ephemera, 1 box of misc. papers

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Biographical history

Born Fife, 1837; died Edinburgh 1882
John Sadler joined the staff of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1854, working in the propagating department and herbarium before becoming assistant to Regius Keeper Professor J.H. Balfour, a post he held for almost 25 years. He was appointed curator (principal gardener) at the Garden in 1879. An inveterate rambler he gained a great knowledge of the Scottish flora, especially the flora of Perthshire, and discovered many new stations for plants, several of which perpetuate his name. Sadler lectured regularly to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, which he served as Assistant Secretary from 1858 until 1879. Known as a genial, good natured man his many other professional and social memberships included being a founder member of the Scottish Alpine Botanical Club (1868) and Secretary of the Scottish Arboricultural Society from 1862 to 1879. An all round practical botanist, he was awarded the Neill Prize in 1869 and also lectured in botany at the Royal High School for over 20 years. In 1881 he took charge of the development of the Arboretum, then administered separately from the Garden. While engaged in planting the Arboretum in December snow he caught a chill and died at the age of 45, leaving a widow and 7 children.
Sources: R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists; HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; (Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’); obituary folder.

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• Bound ms. notebook containing 64 lectures on botany, topics for weekly examinations, with 13 loose ms. sheets, principally plant lists, 1868–1877
• Flora of Edinburgh, by John Hutton Balfour, assisted by John Sadler, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1863, with ms. corrections and annotations (title page changed to “Second Edition, 1871”; front cover label = “Flora of Edinburgh / Third Edition / Additions and Corrections”).
• Reprints of articles on Scottish flora, principally from Trans. Bot. Soc., including “Mr Sadler on the Flora of the Bridge of Earn,” 1862; “Mr Sadler’s Remarks on Boehmetria nivea,” 1870; Mr Sadler’s Report on Open-Air Vegetation,” 1879;” Notes on the Alpine Flora of Ben Nevis, Inverness-Shire,” 1879; “On the Flowering of Yucca gloriosa, L., in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh,”1880 (ms. inscription: “With J. Sadler’s Compts”); “On a Curious Form of Kohl Rabi,” 1880; Report on Notes on a Botanical Trip to Ben Nevis, Inverness-Shire, in July, 1876, by John Sadler, reprinted from the Gardeners’ Chronicle, March 17, 1877, 2 copies, 1 with ms. annotations and corrections; notice of publication of Gardiner’s [sic] Flora of Forfarshire, 2nd edition by John Sadler (1872); 4 reports on temperatures at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 1880–1882; copies of 2 letters regarding the appointment of a new Curator for the RBG (originals in “Balfour, J.H.”, supp. boxes under “Nicholson, G.”), 1878.
• Obituaries of John Sadler, including “John Sadler,” by Professor Bayley Balfour, Trans. Bot. Soc., 1883 (with typescript); “The Late Mr John Sadler,” by William Craig, reprinted from Berkshire Naturalists’ Club Transactions, 1882 (with typescript); typescript of notice in Gardeners’ Chronicle, July–Dec. 1882; typescript of entry in A Biographical Index of British and Irish; newspaper clippings of obituary; ms. letter from William Craig to “My dear Professor” [I. Bayley Balfour] regarding Sadler’s supposed sojourn in Bristol, 1905; ms. of “medallion” on Sadler’s tombstone (Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh), which was erected “in affectionate remembrance by his friends in the Scottish Alpine Botanical Club,” 1884.
• Caricature: ink and watercolour drawing of 3 mycologists flying high in a mushroom-shaped hot air balloon. Inscribed: “Authorities high in fungi. 1872” in John Sadler’s handwriting.
• Index card: Sadler, John. 3 ltrs 1879/80 filed “Balfour, I.B.” papers under “Sadler, J.”

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