Hooker, Sir William Jackson 1785-1865
Hooker was born at Norwich, England in 1785. At the age of four years he inherited considerable property in Kent. From early childhood he had an outstanding interest in natural history. Early in the 19th Century he became very well acquainted with Sir Joseph Banks, Robert Brown, de Candolle and other leading men of his time.
He accepted a professorship in the University of Glasgow in 1819 and became an outstanding teacher. He established the Botanic Garden at Glasgow but some time after accepted the directorship at Kew Gardens.
After the death of George III and Sir Joseph Banks in 1820, Kew Garden became merely a "royal pleasure garden." In 1839 some of glass houses stocked with plants obtained from 60 years of collection were almost converted into locations for grapes for the King's table.
A report chiefly prepared by John Lindley in 1840 was presented to Parliament recommending that Kew should be make a national botanic garden and a center of botanical science for the British Empire. The report was accepted and Kew became a national institution and Sir William Hooker accepted the Directorship in 1841.
Hooker's actual botanical work was voluminous and he helped greatly to establish the natural system of plant classification in Great Britain. The present herbarium and library were developed from his own pride collections. He was also responsible for the layout of the garden and erection of many of the glass houses. He was characterized by great energy, imagination and administrative ability.