The Times/1927/Obituary/Benjamin Daydon Jackson

Dr. B. D. Jackson
Services to Botanical Science

We regret to announce that Dr. Benjamin Daydon Jackson, the distinguished botanist, curator of the Linnean Collections and editor of the "Index Kewensis," died on Wednesday in his 82nd year, after a motor accident.

Dr. Jackson was a Londoner, born on April 3, 1846. He was educated at private schools, and he seems early to have developed his interest in botany, for he became a Fellow of the Linnean Society before he was 22, and when he was 34 was appointed its secretary, an office which he filled with distinction from 1880 till 1902, when he became general secretary. He was also a member of the council from 1880. A man of great erudition and industry, he had few equals in his knowledge of botanical literature. Indeed, it was the possession of these qualities which marked him out as the best possible person to undertake the execution of the "Index Kewensis," which will always be a monument of his painstaking industry. He was engaged for nearly 14 years on the preparation of this great work, which is indispensable to systematic botanists all over the world. The idea of the index originated with Darwin, as Sir Joseph Hooker relates in the preface to the first volume, published in 1893 at the Clarendon Press:—
"Shortly before his death [writes Sir Joseph] Mr. Darwin informed me of his intention to devote a considerable sum in aid or furtherance of some work of utility to biological science; and to provide for its completion should this not be accomplished during his lifetime. He further informed me that the difficulties he had experienced in accurately designating the many plants which he had studied, and ascertaining their native countries, had suggested to him the compilation of an index to the names and authorities of all known flowering plants and their countries, as a work of supreme importance to students of systematic and geographical botany, and to horticulturists, and as a fitting object of the fulfilment of his intention. I have only to add that at his request I undertook to direct and supervise such a work; and that it is being carried out at the herbarium of the Royal Gardens, Kew, with the aid of the staff of that establishment."

The magnitude of the undertaking may be estimated from some particulars given by Dr. Jackson himself in the Journal of Botany in 1887, when the work had been five years in progress. He states that 30,000 covers were required for genera. These were stored in 178 boxes, then whole manuscript weighing more than a ton. It is to be regretted, says Mr. James Britten, formerly acting Keeper of the Department of Botany at the Natural History Museum, that Sir Joseph Hooker in the preface quoted did not make it very clear that the work was in the main Dr. Jackson's own and that it was carried out by him "doubtless with the aid of the staff of the Kew Herbarium," but chiefly by assistants employed for this special purpose. (Journal of Botany, Vol. XXII., 1893.)

Dr. Jackson's outstanding characteristic was his extreme helpfulness. He was always ready to take infinite pains to assist anyone in need of information in those departments of knowledge to which he had specially devoted himself, and the claims on his time were innumerable. For instance, he was secretary to the Treasury Departmental Committee on botanical work in 1900-01. His published works include, besides the "Index Kewensis" (1893-95) and the supplement to it (with Th. Durand), 1901-04; "Linnæus, the Story of His Life," 1923, an English edition of Professor Fries's great work; "Notes on a Catalogue of the Linnean Herbarium," 1922; "Catalogue of Linnean Specimens of Zoology," 1913; "Guide to the Literature of Botany," 1881; "Vegetable Technology, a Glossary of Botanical Terms," 1882 (a third edition of which was published in 1916); biographies of George Bentham, John Gerard, and Dr. William Turner; and "Darwinia." He also edited "New Genera and Species of Cyperaceæ," and "Illustrations of Cyperaceæ," by the late C. B. Clarke. He was besides the author of many shorter publications, mainly on botany and botanic history and bibliography. Dr. Jackson, who was an honorary Ph.D. of Upsala, was created a Knight of the Swedish Order of the Polar Star in 1907, on the occasion of the Linnearn bicentenary celebrations.

At the anniversary meeting of the Linnean Society of London on May 27, 1926, a portrait of Dr. Jackson was presented to the society on behalf of the subscribers, in honour of his 80th birthday, by Sir David Prain, a former president of the society, and formerly director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Sir David mentioned that on that day Dr. Jackson had been appointed to a newly created post as Curator of the Linnean Collections. On this occasion tributes were also paid to Dr. Jackson's eminent services to botanical science, and to the Society, by Dr. D. H. Scott, F.R.S., a past president of the Linnean Society, and by the president Dr. A. B. Rendle, F.R.S.

The funeral will be at Golder Green Crematorium on Monday at 2.30.

This work is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.

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