Hudson, William

, one of the earliest Linniean botanists in England, was born in Westmoreland, about the year 1730. He served his apprenticeship to an apothecary in Panton-street, Haymarket, to whose business he succeeded, and with whose widow and daughters he continued to reside. His acquaintance with the amiable and learned Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet greatly advanced his taste and information in natural history. This gentleman directed his attention to the writings of Linnæus, and gave his mind that correct and scientific turn, which caused him to take the lead as a classical English botanist, and induced him to become the author of the “Flora Anglica,” published in 1762, in one volume octavo. The plan of this book was, taking Kay’s “Synopsis” as a ground-work, to dispose his plants in order, according to the Linnaean system and nomenclature, with such additions of new species, or of new places of growth, as the author or his friends were able to furnish. The particular places of growth of the rarer species were given in Ray’s manner, in English, though the rest of the book was Latin. The elegant preface was written by Mr. Stillingfleet, and probably the concise, but not less elegant, dedication to the late duke of Northumberland, “artium, turn utilium, turn elegant ioruin, judici et patrono

This publication gave Mr. Hudson a considerable rank as a botanist, not only in his own country, but on the | eontinent, and derived no small advantage from a comparison with Dr. Hill’s attempt of the same kind. He had indeed previously, in the course of his medical practice, formed some valuable connexions, which were cemented by botanical taste; and his correspondence with Linnæus, Haller, and others, as well as amongst his countrymen, was frequent, and very useful to him in the course of his studies, which were extended, not only to botany in all its cryptogamic minutiae, but with great ardour also, to insects, shells, and other branches of British zoology. He was elected a fellow of the royal society Nov. 5th, and admitted Nov. 12th, 1761. He took the lead very much in. the affairs of the Apothecaries’ company, and was their botanical demonstrator in the Chelsea-garden for many years.

Mr. Hudson, having never married, continued to reside in Panton-street with the last surviving daughter of his friend and master, an amiable and valuable woman, married to Mr. Hole. His “Flora” being grown very scarce, he published, in 1778, a new edition, in two volumes, with many additions, and various alterations, which, on the whole, was worthy of the advanced state of the science.

Mr. Hudson’s tranquillity received a dreadful shock in the winter of 1783, when his house, and the greater part of his literary treasures, were destroyed by a sudden fire, caused, as it was believed, by the villany of a confidential servant, who knew of a considerable sum in money which his master had received a day or two before; and the insurance having been neglected, although for a short time only, the loss was considerable, in a pecuniary point of view, to a man whose resources were not extensive. He bore the whole like a philosopher and a Christian, giving up his practice, and retiring, with Mr. and Mrs. Hole, to a more economical residence in Jermyn-street, where he died May 23d, 1793, and was buried in St. James’s church.

The accident of the fire entirely defeated a project Mr. Hudson had for many years kept in view, of publishing a “Fauna Britannica,” on the plan of his “Flora,” for which he had long been collecting materials. His taste for his favourite pursuit remained to the last, unimpaired and unembittered by these disappointments. He became a fellow of the Linnaean Society early in 1791, liberally | contributing to its infant funds, and attending the meetings as often as his now declining health would allow. 1


Rees’s Cyclop, by sir E. Smith. Puiteoey’s Sketches of Botany. Geat. Mag. vol. LXIII.