Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS (16 April 1660 – 11 January 1753) was an Anglo-Irish physician, naturalist and collector noted for bequeathing his collection to the British nation, thus providing the foundation of the British Museum.
As a youth, Sloane collected objects of natural history and other curiosities.
He returned to London with a considerable collection of plants and other
curiosities, of which the former were sent to John Ray and utilised by him
for his History of Plants.
Sloane encountered cacao
while he was in Jamaica, where the locals drank it mixed with water,
though he is reported to have found it nauseating. Many recipes for
mixing chocolate with spice, eggs, sugar and milk were in circulation by
the seventeenth century. After returning from Jamaica, Sloane may have
devised his own recipe for mixing chocolate with milk, though if so, he
was not the first. By the 1750s, a Soho grocer named Nicholas Sanders
claimed to be selling Sloane's recipe as a medicinal elixir, perhaps
making 'Sir Hans Sloane's Milk Chocolate' the first brand-name milk
chocolate. By the nineteenth century, the Cadbury Brothers sold tins of drinking chocolate whose trade cards also invoked Sloane's recipe.
His purchase of the manor of Chelsea, London in 1712, provided the grounds for the Chelsea Physic Garden
When Sloane retired in 1741, his library and cabinet of curiosities, which he took with him from Bloomsbury to his house in Chelsea, had grown to be of unique value.
On his death on 11 January 1753 he bequeathed
his books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, flora, fauna, medals, coins,
seals, cameos and other curiosities to the nation, on condition that
parliament should pay his executors £20,000, far less than the value of
the collection. The bequest was accepted on those terms by an act passed
the same year, and the collection, together with George II's royal library, etc., was opened to the public at Bloomsbury as the British Museum in 1759. A significant proportion of this collection was later to become the foundation for the Natural History Museum.
He also gave the Apothecaries' Company the land of the Chelsea physic
garden, which they had rented from the Chelsea estate since 1673.