Specimens from Sloane’s voyage to Jamaica – Sloane Herbarium

Interactive Data Atlas > Natural History Museum > Specimens from Sloane’s voyage to Jamaica – Sloane Herbarium

About the Resource

Sloane Herbarium is a digital database of the specimens from Sloane’s voyages to Jamaica (the specimens are held in the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum). The database includes 1,279 individual records and is available on the Data Portal of the Natural History Museum (DOI: https://doi.org/10.5519/0081520). The project was created in 2016.

Type of resource and contents

This is a contemporary collection. Each record of the database includes an image of the folio along with details regarding the specimen, the data record, and the collection.

Information on digitisation and digital creation

Using a large-format camera with a digital scanner attachment, the images have been fed directly into a computer using Photophase.

Further details on the creation of metadata attached to each of the images (for example, details regarding the specimen, the data record, and the collection described above) need further clarification.

Material included in the original collection

The database contains the Sloane Herbarium volumes of dried plant specimens from Jamaica, collected by Sir Hans Sloane during his voyage to Jamaica during 1687 – 1689.

The original volumes are large (approx. 40 cm x 53 cm) and vary in the number of specimens each contains, but there are frequently several to a single page.

A handful of other collectors contributed material, some of it not from Jamaica, to the volumes under consideration here. They are well documented by Dandy (1958). The collectors are:

Harlow, James (Fl. 1660-1696)

Plants from Madeira and Jamaica were collected by James Harlow, and brought, in 1692, for Sir Arthur Rawdon’s garden at Moyra, Ireland. Specimens of many of these were communicated to Sloane by Dr. William Sherard (1659-1728) and these are mentioned in the History. Dandy, in pencilled notes in the bound volumes, recorded the acquisitions from Harlow and Sherard. Specimens attributed to Houston and Richardson, and a few others, e.g. Hamilton in Barbados (H. S. 3:48 verso, Spermacoce assurgens) are scattered, on smaller pages, inserted at later dates, through H.S. 1-7.

Houston (Houstoun) William (1695-1733)

Probably wrote the annotations accompanying his specimens incorporated by Sloane, mostly from Jamaica in 1730. There are many Houston collections in the General Herbarium at The Natural History Museum (NHM) from Jamaica and Veracruz. He is not mentioned in the History[HM1]  for the obvious reason that his gift was received after the publication of both volumes.

Richardson, Richard (1663-1741). Physician of North Brierley, Yorkshire

The specimens which Sloane incorporated seem almost entirely to have come from those collected by Richardson in the Botanic Garden at Leyden, where he was a student, before or early in 1689 (Dandy, 1958: 194). Dandy has indicated on the sheets which material came from Richardson, sometimes correcting an earlier belief that these specimens originated with Miller. The source of the Leyden garden material was probably mostly Surinam, but some may have come from Africa or Asia. None were from Jamaica. Very few of these specimens have flower or fruit and many are seedlings or in early juvenile states. It is not known when exactly these specimens were received or incorporated in the Sloane herbaria. There is no mention of Richardson in the History. Richardson probably wrote the annotations himself. They are mostly polynomials and references, and only 2 have been found where there is also an annotation in Sloane’s hand. These both accompany specimens of species which Sloane observed in Jamaica, listed in the Catalogue, and dealt with fully in the History, but for which there is no material of his own collection in the bound volumes. One is Hylocereus triangularis, Cat. Jam. 196; Hist. 2: 155; and the extensive entry includes mention of a Jamaican locality. Richardson’s plant is at H.S. 7: 83*1. [If the provenance of the plant from which Richardson’s specimen was derived was not Jamaica, then it is probably Hylocereus lemairei (Hook.) Britton & Rose, rather than H. triangularis.] The other is Carica papaya, Cat. Jam. 202; Hist. 2: 164. Richardson’s plant is at H.S. 7: 88*; there is also a piece of this species collected by Houston at H.S. 7: 88. Sloane collected the small-fruited wild variant, Carica jamaicensis, H.S. 7: 8

Metadata, Media and formats

Each individual entry includes metadata such as ID, Genus, Species, Volumes, Page Number, Country, and Collector of the specimen.

API / Download

The Data Portal provides the option to obtain a link via email to download the dataset. The version for download is available in CSV and TSV.

Usage and citation

The license for usage is not specified on the website.

The dataset can be cited using the citation below: Charles E Jarvis (2016). Dataset: Specimens from Sloane’s voyage to Jamaica. Natural History Museum Data Portal (data.nhm.ac.uk). https://doi.org/10.5519/0081520

Contact person

Mark Carine is the key person to contact. Please feel free to contact him directly, or otherwise contact us to bring you in touch.


The database, including images of the folios, and additional information can be viewed online on the Natural History Museum Data Portal linked above.

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