Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gibson, George Stacey

GIBSON, GEORGE STACEY (1818–1883), botanist and philanthropist, was born 20 July 1818 at Saffron Walden, Essex, being the only son of Wyatt George Gibson, a lineal descendant of Sir Henry Wyatt. His mother's maiden name was Deborah Stacey. Born to ample private means, though occupied by a large banking business and many charitable institutions, especially those connected with the Society of Friends, of which he was for many years ‘clerk of the yearly meeting,’ he at an early age imbibed a taste for botany. His keen observing powers added six species to the known British flora, and furnished the material for a series of interesting communications to the ‘Phytologist’ between 1842 and 1851. He also communicated to Hewett Watson records of plants from various counties of England, Wales, and Scotland. In 1845 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Tuke of York, and in 1847 became a fellow of the Linnean Society. In 1862 he published ‘The Flora of Essex,’ the result of nearly twenty years' work, which was in several respects an advance on preceding county floras. After this date other duties took him away from active scientific work; but he retained to the last a keen interest in science, especially photography, electric lighting, and the rearrangement of the excellent local museum at Walden. He was senior partner of the firm of Gibson, Tuke, & Gibson, and in 1877 and 1878 held the office of mayor of his native town, the charities of which he endowed munificently both during his life and at his death. He died of kidney disease, in Bishopsgate Street, London, on 5 April 1883. Exactitude and conscientiousness were his characteristics alike in science and in business, and he modestly submitted all his botanical discoveries to the judgment of his friends William Borrer, Edward Forster, and Professor C. C. Babington. His herbarium is in the Saffron Walden Museum.

[Memoirs, illustrated by two different portraits, in Journ. of Bot. 1883, and in Trans. Essex Field Club, vol. iv., by G. S. Boulger.]

G. S. B.