Gilbert Slater [originally: Sclater] (ca. 1753 - October 30, 1793 Leyton), English ship owner
Leytonstone is since 1965 part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. A Biography of Gilbert Slater is found in "The Essex Naturalist", 1938, pp. 162-168 [see weblink].
[From "A Register of Ships Employed in the Service of the Honorable The United East India Company From the Year 1760 to 1810" by Charles Hardy and Horatio Charles Hardy, 1811:]Trips financed by Gilbert Slater for East India Company:
"Lioness" (499 reg. tons): 19.1.1766 Downs - Coast and China - 5.7.1767 Downs (Capt. William Larkins)
"Triton" (499 reg. tons): 22.12.1766 Downs - Coast and China - 10.6.1768 Downs (Capt. William Elphinstone)
"Pacific" (499 reg. tons): 2.1.1768 Downs - Coast and China - 16.6.1769 Downs (Capt. Charles Barkeley)
"Sea Horse" (499 reg. tons): 2.1.1768 Downs - Coast and China - 25.9.1769 Downs (Capt. Edward Dampier)
"Lioness" (499 reg. tons): 8.12.1768 Portsmouth - Coast and Bay - 16.7.1770 Downs (Capt. William Larkins)
"Triton" (499 reg. tons): 3.1.1769 Downs - Coast and China - 11.6.1770 Downs (Capt. William Elphinstone)
"Sea Horse": 16.1.1771 Portsmouth - Bencoolen and China - 17.7.1772 Downs (Capt. Edward Dampier)
"Pacific": 18.2.1771 Downs - Coast and China - 17.7.1772 Downs (Capt. Charles Barkley)
"Lioness": 28.12.1771 Downs - Coast and Bay - 21.6.1773 Downs (Capt. William Larkins)
"Triton": 1.1.1772 Downs - Coast and Bay - 8.10.1773 Downs (Capt. William Elphinstone)
"Sea Horse" (876 reg. tons): 29.12.1773 Portsmouth - Coast and Bay - 23.8.1775 Downs (Capt. David Arthur)
"Pacific" (668 reg. tons): 10.3.1774 Downs - Coast and Bay - 17.9.1775 Downs (Capt. Charles Barkeley)
"Triton" (637 reg. tons): 19.4.1776 Downs - Bombay - 24.7.1777 Downs (Capt. William Elphinstone)
"Sea Horse" (676 reg. tons): 30.4.1777 Portsmouth - Coast and Bay - 27.10.1778 Downs (Capt. David Arthur)
"Major" (755 reg. tons): 6.2.1782 Portsmouth - Coast and China - 24.6.1782 Burnt at Culpee (Capt. David Arthur)
"Carnatic" (1169 reg. tons): 29.1.1788 Downs - Coast and China - 31.7.1789 (Capt. John Corner [Cooper?])
"Triton" (800 reg. tons): 5.4.1788 Downs - Coast and Bay - 26.5.1789 (Capt. William Agnew)
"Carnatic": 3.2.1791 Portsmouth - Coast and China - 16.6.1792 (Capt. John Cooper)
"Triton": 13.1.1793 Torbay - Coast and China - 19.9.1794 (Capt. Philip Burnyeat)
Yvonne Forsling asks: Does anybody have more information on this Gilbert Slater? Can he be the same man who is mentioned in the Botanical Cabinet of 1821 as introducer of several species of China hibiscus to England? About him it says "The present kind was first introduced by the late Gilbert Slater, Esq. of Walthamstow, a gentleman of whose zeal in introducing new plants we have already had occasion to speak." Your G. Slater is from Leytonstone which of course belongs to the same borough as Walthamstow. [These questions are answered below]
[From The Gentleman's Magazine, 1793, Vol. 63, Part II, p.1054:]...October 30...Of a mortification in his bladder, Gilbert Sclater, esq. a considerable owner of E India shipping, and one of the directors of the London Assurance-office. Mr. S. was son of an East India captain, and was himself a ship's husband, by which he acquired a large fortune, which he applied to botanical purposes, having two persons collecting for him in the East Indies, at the expence of 500I. a year, and having made an elegant arrangement of his garden, and contrived a water-mill, with pipes lo distribute the water to the several beds. He married Miss Jackson, by whom he has left several children, the youngest just born. Mr. S. was so corpulent, through excessive eating, that he kept a regular weekly fast, without reducing his corpulency. The third daughter died the 22nd inst. Having been long subject to violent attacks of the stone and a lethargic habit, he died of an obstruction of his kidneys, which brought on a diarhœa. After lying in state two days, at his house at Knots-green, Low Layton, his remains were interred at Hendon, on Nov. 7.
[From A Forgotten Essex Gardener, 1938, by Charles Hall Crouch, pp. 162-168:]...Gilbert Slater was born in or about 1753....became extensively connected with the East India Co., being managing owner of several of their ships, and, of course, was in constant communication with the super-cargoes at Canton, while he naturally possessed the greatest influence with the commanders
of his own ships. Slater wrote and printed a small tract of lists of plants and directions for collecting, with figures of the boxes and manner of packing seeds and plants for the voyage home. These he distributed among his officers and friends in the China trade, and used every means in his power to accomplish an object,
which as an amusement was a principal pursuit of his comparatively short life. His country seat at Leyton had extensive gardens, where every description of building for the preservation of exotic plants was erected, and where forcing was carried on in all its branches. The houses contained a fine collection of stove, greenhouse
and conservatory plants, and the beds outside were filled with the largest specimens of American plants that could be purchased, while floriculture was conducted on a most extensive scale. Every newly-imported plant soon found its way to Slater's collection, and it was moreover enriched by several Chinese and East Indian plants which he had the pleasure of introducing, such as Hydrangea hortensis, Eriobotyra Japonica, EuphorbiasLitchi, and Longana, Volkameria coccinea, Rosa semperflorens....Slater always divided whatever he had of value with Sir Joseph Banks for the Kew collections, as a surer means of preserving what might be received.... in 1789, when he was aged 36, he sent out two young men employed in his gardens, but they never returned, one, a Scotsman, being unfortunately drowned on the outward voyage in the Straits of
Malacca. A successor was soon found, viz., his foreman of the houses and flower garden, who accepted the appointment. This man, then only about 26 years of age, was James Main, the Chelsea gardener, and afterwards editor of Paxton's Horticultural Register and General Magazine. He joined the "Triton," Captain Burnyeat master, and left Gravesend in the autumn of 1791....Gilbert Slater died at his seat at Knotts Green, Leyton, on the 30th October, 1793, aged 40...."Triton" arrived at Gravesend on the 5th September, 1794, and it was not long before Main was told that immediately after the death of Slater the seat at Leyton was given up and had passed into other hands.
[From A Heritage of Roses, 1988, by Hazel le Rougetel, p. 42: 'Slater's Crimson China'] was introduced [in England] by Mr. Gilbert Slater of Leytonstone...
[From British Naturalists in Qing China, 2004, by Fa-Ti Fan, p. 19: Enthusiastic promoters boosted efforts to introduce ornamental plants from China. Two shareholders of the East India Company, Abraham Hume and Gilbert Slater, mobilized their resources and sponsored the introduction of numerous chrysanthemums and other spectacular garden flowers from China in the late eighteenth century.