Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 85:F73-F74 doi:10.1136/fn.85.1.F73
  • Perinatal lessons from the past

Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) and the value of breast milk

  1. P M Dunn
  1. Department of Child Health, University of Bristol, Southmead Hospital, Southmead, Bristol BS10 5NB, UK
  1. Professor Dunnp.m.dunn{at}

    Hans Sloane was one of the most eminent physicians, naturalists, and collectors of his day.1 He was born on 16 April 1660 in Killyleagh, Co Down, one of the sons of Alexander Sloane, a tax collector of Scottish extraction. After attending the local school, he studied medicine in London, completing his training in France (Paris and Montpellier), and receiving his MD from the University of Orange in 1683. On returning to London, he lodged with the famous Dr Thomas Sydenham. Sloane was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1685 and of the Royal College of Physicians in 1687. He then spent 15 months in Jamaica as personal physician to the Governor. While there, he satisfied his interest in botany, collecting some 800 plants that were then unknown in Europe. Later he assembled his dried specimens and crayon drawings into a collection that served as the basis of a magnificent two volume work.

    Returning to England in 1689, Sloane settled in Bloomsbury and rapidly established himself as a leading fashionable doctor. In 1694, he was appointed physician to Christ's Hospital, a post he held for the next 34 years. In 1695 he married a wealthy widow, Mrs Elizabeth Rose, by whom he had a son who died young, and two daughters. By now a millionaire, he was able to indulge his passion for natural history and collecting. At the same time, he had risen to the head of his profession. In 1701 he attended Queen Anne, in 1716 was created a baronet by George I (the first doctor to be so honoured), and in 1727 became physician to George II. The academies of Paris, Petersburg, and Madrid also honoured him. Between 1719 and 1735, he was President of the Royal College of Physicians and, after Sir Isaac Newton's …