Francis Walker Gilmer (1790-1826) was the tenth child of George Gilmer, a close friend of Thomas Jefferson, and brother of Peachy Gilmer. When Francis's father died, he stayed at various homes, but Jefferson kept an eye on his development. Gilmer graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1810, then studied law. By 1813 or 1814, Gilmer received biology instruction from José Correia da Serra. Most likely Jefferson introduced Gilmer to Correia. Gilmer and Correia went on a botanical survey of Georgia and South Carolina in the summer of 1815.
Gilmer settled in Winchester, Virginia, then moved to Richmond to practice law. In November 1823, Jefferson offered Gilmer the chair of law at the University of Virginia and Gilmer acted as commissioner for securing professors for the University in England. While overseas, he recruited people such as George Long and Dr. Robley Dunglison.
Gilmer returned to America in February 1825 to return to his law practice. In October, his university appointment was finalized, but he died before his work actually began.