Irish-born Sir Hans Sloane (1660 – 1753) was a prolific collector, physician, botanist and administrator. But his most noteworthy claim to fame in the eyes of many, would be his invention of sweet drinking chocolate and its introduction to Europe.
A plaque commemorating Sloane can be found at 4 Bloomsbury Place WC1, just moments from the front entrance to the British Museum in the heart of Bloomsbury.
In 1687, Hans Sloane travelled to Jamaica with Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albermarle (1653 – 1688), as his private doctor. However, the unlucky Duke died shortly after their arrival, leaving Sloane free to botanise his way across the island, discovering and describing many new specimens that he would later describe for publication.
While in Jamaica, Sloane discovered that the natives drank chocolate powder mixed in water. To make it more palatable, he mixed the chocolate powder with milk instead, creating a kind of proto-chocolate milkshake. The recipe, which he brought home to England, proved an enormous success, with Cadbury’s distributing his new invention.
Sloane’s chocolate lives on at Sir Hans Sloane Chocolate Ltd – visit the website for more information or to place an order.
In 1719, Hans Sloane was appointed President of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 1727 he became President of the Royal Society, taking over the role from Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727). He also played a role in the establishment of the Chelsea Physic Garden.
Before his death, Sloane bequeathed his vast private collection – which included a multitude of natural history specimens, medals, coins, manuscripts, drawings, books and a herbarium – to the nation, in exchange for a £20,000 payment to his executors. His collection went on to form the basis of the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.
Read more about Hans Sloane’s collection here.
Hans Sloane is buried in Chelsea Old Church.
Photos by Sven Klinge
(please credit photographer & website when using these photos)
- Sir Hans Sloane: The Great Collector and His Circle by Eric St John Brooks
- Sir Hans Sloane: Founding Father of the British Museum by Neil MacGregor
- Enlightenment by Kim Sloan