Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Harriman, John

HARRIMAN, JOHN (1760–1831), botanist, was born in 1760 at Maryport, Cumberland, of a family of German extraction named Hermann. Two Hermanns, professors of botany, one at Strasburg the other at Leyden, in the latter of whom may be recognised the precursor of Linnaeus, were probably of the same family. John Harriman became a student of medicine at the age of seventeen, and applied himself to anatomy, materia medica, and clinical study. But dissecting work soon fatigued his delicate constitution. After two years he returned to his classical studies and took holy orders. He became curate of Bassenthwaite in 1787. Thence he passed to Barnard Castle, Egglestone, and Gainford in Durham, Long Horseley, Northumberland, Heighington, and Croxdale, and lastly to the perpetual curacy of Satley, Durham. He devoted himself, while holding these cures, to acquiring a knowledge of the botany of Teesdale. Although he wrote nothing, botany owes him much. He maintained a frequent correspondence with other botanical students, and generously informed them of his own discoveries and notes. He was specially versed in the knowledge of lichens and discovered many species. Harriman was a fellow of the Liniiean Society, but when the president offered to give the name of 'Harrimannia' to one of his discoveries, he refused to sanction it. After his death, however, 3 Dec. 1831, at Croft, in York, Dr. Smith, the president, called the microscopic dot lichen, 'lichen Harrimanni.'

The Linnean Society possesses a copy of 'Acharii Methodus Lichenum,' Stockholm, 1803, with manuscript notes and figures added by Harriman, which was presented by his widow. Harriman furnished plants for Smith's 'English Botany' (such as Bartsia alpina), which he gathered in Teesdale. He was the first botanist to find Gentiana verna in England, and several rare plants in Westmoreland and Cumberland. He sent also a valuable collection of lichens from Egglestone to Smith.

[Information from James Britten, esq.; Smith's English Botany, passim.]

M. G. W.