Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dale, Samuel

DALE, SAMUEL (1659?–1739), physician, son of North. Dale, of St. Mary, Whitechapel, silk-thrower, was born between 1658 and 1660. Apprenticed for eight years to an apothecary in 1674, we find him practising as a physician and apothecary at Braintree, Essex, in 1686 (Ray, Hist. Plant. vol. i. preface); but there is no evidence that he was born at that place, that he took a doctor's degree, or that he became a member of the Society of Apothecaries or a licentiate of Royal College of Physicians. Both in the ‘Historia’ and in the two editions of the ‘Synopsis Stirpium Britannicarum’ Ray acknowledged the valuable assistance he had received from Dale's critical knowledge of plants, and it is from the letters of the latter to Sir Hans Sloane that we learn many particulars of the last hours of the great naturalist, whose friend, neighbour, and executor he was. Dale's own chief work was the ‘Pharmacologia,’ which first appeared in 12mo in 1693, a supplement being published in 1705, a second edition in 1710, a third, in quarto, in 1737, and others after the author's death. It is the first systematic work of importance on the subject. His nine contributions to the ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ between 1692 and 1736, deal with a variety of subjects, biological and professional, the most important, perhaps, being an account—the first published—of the fossil shells of Harwich Cliff (Phil. Trans. vol. xxi. No. 249, p. 50, and vol. xxiv. No. 291, p. 1568). In 1730 Dale published the second great work of his life, ‘The History and Antiquities of Harwich and Dovercourt,’ by Silas Taylor, his own appendix to which exceeds in bulk the main work, and is a most complete account of the natural history of the district. This book reached a second edition in 1732. Dale died on 6 June 1739, and was buried in the Dissenters' burial-ground, Bocking, near Braintree. His herbarium, bequeathed to the Apothecaries' Company, is now in the British Museum, and the neat and elaborate tickets to the plants, many of which he obtained from the Chelsea garden, and numerous correspondents, show him to have been a botanist of no mean calibre. An oil-painting of Dale is preserved at Apothecaries' Hall, and an autotype, from the engraving by Vertue in the third edition of the ‘Pharmacologia,’ is prefixed to the memoir of him in the ‘Journal of Botany.’ His contributions to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ have caused him to be erroneously described as a fellow of the Royal Society. Linnæus commemorated his services to botany in the leguminous genus Dalea.

[Journal of Botany, xxi. (1883), 193–7, 225–231.]

G. S. B.