William Borrer Esq. (1781 - 1862)
William Borrer was one of the most noted botanists of the first half of the 19th century, renowned for both his breadth and depth of knowledge. Corresponding with all the prominent botanists of the time, Director of Kew Gardens Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker described him as 'long the Nestor of British botanists'. On his death, over 6600 specimens were inventoried in his garden by his head gardener Charles Green (later to become noted on his own account).
Borrer's rare intact herbarium (book of pressed specimens) now resides at Kew Gardens, with his letters held by a variety of libraries and institutions. Particular specialisations included lichens, willows and succulents. Majestic Red Oaks and evergreen Lucombe Oaks remain as arboreal testimony in Henfield, alongside a legacy of rarer plants scattered around the village today.
The photograph on this page is the only currently known to exist of Borrer. A letter exists from a fellow botanist with a line encouraging him to sit for a photo - likely this one. His stern expression belies what was said to have been a kind nature and a man frequently willing to give time to those with an interest in his studies or to locals in genuine need.
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