Sloane, Hans (1660-1753) was a British physician and botanist renowned especially for his voluminous collection of plant and animal specimens, fossils, minerals, precious stones, coins, and rare artifacts and antiquities of all kinds. That collection inspired the founding of the British Museum in 1753.
Sloane left his native Ireland for London in 1679 to study medicine, chemistry, and botany. He finished his education in France, receiving a medical degree from the University of Orange in Provence in 1683, and then did additional studying in Montpellier.
Sloane returned to England in 1684 and in 1685 was elected to the Royal Society. He served as the society's president from 1727 through 1741 and was also elected to the Royal College of Physicians in 1687.
In 1689, Sloane returned to England after spending 15 months in Jamaica. He brought with him 800 plant specimens and massive notes of his observations and findings there, making him the first to bring plants from the West Indies to England. This included cocoa, which was then unknown in Europe and which he introduced in the form of a drink mixed with milk.
Sloane spent the rest of his life as a physician, including becoming a physician to Queen Anne in 1712. He also continued his studying and cataloging of botanical specimens. He wrote Catalogus Plantarum (1696) and a two-volume set on the natural history of Jamaica (1707–1725) which became a classic. His writings were used by Carolus Linnaeus in developing his own major work, the Species Plantarum. Over time, Sloane's collection grew significantly, establishing it as one of the greatest and most extensive collections of its time.
Because Sloane wished his collection to benefit the public, he willed them to the British nation, and after his death, Parliament established the British Museum to house them and his library of over 50,000 books. They became the core of the British Museum and later the Natural History Museum. Sloane became a baronet in 1716.