The Sherard Collection: papers relating to Oxford Botanic Garden and Oxford botanists

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1046 MSS. Sherard 1-478
  • Dates of Creation
      16th-20th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English, Latin, Dutch, Modern Greek (1453-), and Ottoman Turkish (1500-1928).
  • Physical Description
      478 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

The name of the collection, the Sherard Collection, is deceptive. Only a portion of the papers are those of William Sherard, who endowed the Chair of Botany at Oxford. Although he did not study or teach botany at the University, he was considered one of the most outstanding botanists of his time.

In addition to the Sherard material, the collection contains the papers of Keepers of the Botanic Garden, the papers of Professors of Botany and of Rural Economy, and related papers collected by George Claridge Druce. There are also some papers concerning the Botanic Garden and herbaria.

Some of the highlights of the collection are Ferdinand Bauer's 966 original drawings for the Flora Graeca of J. Sibthorp and J. E. Smith; Sherard's work on Bauhin's Pinax; 139 coloured drawings of African plants, known as Herbarium Capense; and some beautiful watercolours of Japanese (Chinese?) plants with inscriptions by N. Witsen.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Oxford Physic Garden was founded by the Earl of Danby, Henry Danvers, in 1621. It was renamed the Oxford Botanic Garden in 1840. The garden is the oldest of its kind in Britain.


The collection is arranged as follows:

  • (MSS. Sherard 1-25) papers relating to the Botanic Garden, Library and Herbaria
  • (MSS. Sherard 26-448) papers of individual botanists
  • (MSS. Sherard 449-78) miscellaneous papers.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

The collection was amassed between 1621 and c. 1950.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

'Catalogue of manuscripts belonging to Oxford University Department of Botany', Oxford, 1958.

Custodial History

In 1958 the Department of Botany placed the collection on deposit at the Bodleian Library where the name 'Sherard Collection' was given, and a handlist to the collection was created. The collection was withdrawn from the Bodleian, and returned to the department (now Plant Sciences) in 1987. Management was transferred to Oxford University Library Services in 2000.

Related Material

Many of the items in the collection relate to the Herbaria at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford.


Hermia Newman Clokie An Account of the Herbaria of the Department of Botany in the University of Oxford (Oxford, 1964).

Geographical Names