Threlkeld, Caleb

, a natural historian, was born May 31, 1676, at Keiberg, in the parish of Kirkoswald in Cumberland. In 1698 he commenced master of arts in the university of Glasgow, and soon after settled at Low Huddlesceugh, near the place of his birth, in the character of a dissenting minister. In this situation he made a considerable progress in the study of physic, and contracted a love for plants; insomuch, that in 1712, he took a doctor’s degree in medicine at Edinburgh and the next spring, having- a narrow income, and a large family, he removed to Dublin and settled there in both characters, as a divine and a physician. His family, consisting of a wife and three sons, and as many daughters, did not follow till more than a year had elapsed; when, finding himself likely to succeed, he sent for them over. His practice <in medicine soon increased, so far as to enable him to drop his other character entirely, and devote himself wholly to physic; but he died after a short sickness of a violent fever, at hia house in Mark Valley, Frances-street, April 28, 1728, and was buried in the new burial ground belonging to St. Patrick’s, near Cavan Street, to which place his obsequies were attended by a set of children educated by a society t)f gentlemen. He was much regretted by the poor, to whom he had been both as a man, and as a physician, a kind benefactor.

It does not appear that Dr. Threlkeld published any other book than his “Synopsis Stirpium Hibernicarum alphabetice dispositarum, sive Commentatio de Plantis indigenis, praesertim Dubliniensibus, instituta1727, 12mo, being a short treatise of native plants, especially such as grow spontaneously in the vicinity of Dublin, with, their Latin, English, and Irish names, and an abridgment of their virtues, with several new discoveries; with an | appendix of observations made upon plants by Dr. Molyneux, physician to the state in Ireland, the first essay of this kind in the kingdom of Ireland. In this work, after a dedication of his book to the archbishop of Armagh, and a preface, which, though written in a quaint stile, proves him to be a man of considerable erudition, he enumerates all the plants he had observed in the environs of Dublin, by giving, first, the old Latin name, generally from Caspar Bau-r hine’s Pinax; then the English name, and afterwards the Irish; subjoining, wherever it seems necessary, some ac count of the quality of the plant, and its use in medicine and (Economy. Besides these he has here and there thrown, in a curious observation: to instance, under the word be* tula, he says, “The Irish grammarians remark that all the names of the Irish letters are names of trees.” He appears, however, to have been better acquainted with the history of plants than with plants themselves; as he seems not to have studied them in a systematic way. He incurred the displeasure of the learned professor Dr. Dillenius, by having thrown out, in this hook, three or four criticisms npou that gentleman’s introduction of new names into botany, in his edit on of Mr. Hay’s “Synopsis,” published about three years before, and also on his multiplying the species of plants unnecessarily but Dillenius did not think him an antagonist formidable enough for a reply. 1


Pulteney’s Botany, vol. II.