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. A majestic red oak and evergreen Lucombe Oak remain as testimony in Henfield today. Particular specialisations included lichens, willows and succulents.
The photograph to the left 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.
For more on William Borrer's life, read our full article on the 'Nestor of British Botanists'.
For more on how we're working to preserve his memory, see the William Borrer Transcription Project.