Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Threlkeld, Caleb

THRELKELD, CALEB (1676–1728), botanist, was born on 31 May 1676 at Keibergh in the parish of Kirk Oswald, Cumberland (Synopsis, Be). In 1698 he graduated M.A. in the university of Glasgow, and soon afterwards became a nonconformist preacher. He graduated M.D. at Edinburgh on 26 Jan. 1712–13, and went to live in Dublin with his wife, three sons, and three daughters. At first he preached in a conventicle on Sundays and acted as a physician on week-days, but afterwards (dedication to Primate Boulter) became reconciled to the established church, practised medicine, and studied botany. He made botanical expeditions in every part of the neighbourhood of Dublin, into co. Wicklow, co. Meath, Queen's County, and into the north of Ireland. In 1727 he published in Dublin ‘Synopsis Stirpium Hibernicarum.’ The synopsis describes 535 species of plants with the localities in which they were found and their scientific, English, and Irish names. Threlkeld in most cases took the Irish names from a manuscript in his possession, ‘which I take to be of good authority’ (Synopsis, Br). He probably added a few notes of his own from the reports of rustics. Although the book has been frequently quoted as an authority for the Irish names of plants, the errors it contains show that Threlkeld had little acquaintance with the language. He died in Mark's Alley, Francis Street, Dublin, on 28 April 1728, and was buried in a graveyard in Cowan Street near St. Patrick's Cathedral.

[Threlkeld's Synopsis; Pulteney's Historical and Biographical Sketches of the Progress of Botany in England, 1790, ii. 196.]

N. M.