Biographical dictionary

The Biographical Dictionary of British Coleopterists is compiled and maintained by Michael Darby. The Dictionary can be accessed below, and see also the additional information provide by Michael:

Michael would be pleased to hear from anyone wishing to make corrections or alterations to the Dictionary, which will be fully acknowledged. Email Michael Darby or write to Michael at 33 Bedwin Street, SALISBURY, Wiltshire, SP1 3UT.

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Namesort descending Dates Biography
WALKER, Mark d.1984 Lived in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. All round naturalist with a special interest in insects and molluscs. Worked on an M.S.C sponsored schemes at the Hancock Museum, and as a volunteer, and at the time of his death gave various collections of natural history specimens including 1,000 Coleoptera. (Davis and Brewer (1986) pp.154, 260). (MD 12/04)
WALKER, Sir Patrick 1772 – 1838 There is an article in the Edinburgh based Mag.Zoo.Bot., 1, 1836 p.251 on ‘Descriptions of some new species of Exotic Coleoptera from the collection of Sir Patrick Walker’. Walker’s British and foreign insects were sold by Stevens on 7 May 1839 (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p. 84). There is a collection of his in the HDO but this does not include Coleoptera. (MD 12/04)
WALL-ROW, T. Made a collection of British Lepidoptera and Coleoptera which was auctioned at Stevens on 12 March 1918. (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p. 155, but does not mention the Coleoptera). (MD 12/04)
WALLACE, Alfred Russel 8 January 1823 - 6 November 1913 Well known naturalist who proposed a theory of evolution by natural selection independently of Charles Darwin. Born in Usk the third son of Thomas Vere Wallace. Educated at the Grammar School, Hertford, where he became a pupil teacher in 1836-37. Early in 1844 he was appointed English teacher at the Collegiate School in Leicester where he met Henry Bates who interested him in entomology and particularly Coleoptera. Together they planned a collecting trip to the Amazon where they eventually arrived in 1848. Bates remained for 11 years but Wallace returned to England in 1852. Unfortunately, the ship in which he was travelling burned and sank with the loss of all his collections as is graphically described in the account he subsequently published under the title Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro. The only specimens to survive were those which he had previously sent to England. From 1854 to 1862 he travelled through the Malay Peninsula and the East Indies amassing collections of no fewer than 109,700 insects. He wrote of part of this trip: ‘My first crew ran away; two men were lost for a month on a desert island; we were ten times aground on coral reefs; we lost four anchors; our sails were devoured by rats; the small boat was lost astern; we were thirty eight days on the voyage home which should have taken twelve; we were many times short of food and water; we had no compass lamp owing to their not being a drop of oil... and to crown it all, during the whole of our voyage, occupying in all seventy eight days, we had not a single day of fair wind’. This voyage led directly to his writing On the Law which has Regulated the Introduction of New Species and to his sending to Darwin in 1858 the famous essay On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type, which would lead Darwin to write The Origin of Species. He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Dublin and Oxford, and the Order of Merit in 1908. His writing desk was presented to the RESL after his death and is now used by the Chairman at all Council and Committee meetings. Many of Wallace’s entomological publications on his return concerned Lepidoptera, but he did write ‘A Catalogue of the Cetoniidae of the Malayan Archipelago, with Descriptions of the New Species’ in Trans.ESL 4, 1868, pp.519-601. Many foreign Coleoptera collected by Wallace are now in the HDO purchased both directly and through other collections (detailed in Smith (1986) pp.157-58). These include many insects from the Malay Archipelago eg. his complete collections of Melolonthidae, Rutelidae, Trogidae, Aphodiidae, Pselaphidae, Scydmaenidae, Cleridae, Staphylinidae, and other collections of Carabidae, Anthribidae, Brenthidae, etc. The last two alone amounted to 1080 and 605 specimens respectively. The HDO also holds collections of his letters to Westwood 1865-71 and to E,B.Poulton 1886-1913, and other ms material. Further correspondence with Frederick Birch 1900-1906 and with Frederick Godman, Karl Jordan and William Kaye, amongst others, is in the NHM (Harvey,(1996)) The auctions of Wallace’s insects did not include beetles. Corresponding member ESL 1854, and full member 1863 (President 1870-71, Vice President 1864, 1869, Council 1864, 1866, 1869 and 1872). RSL 1893. (MD 12/04)
WALLACE, William Lived at Grimsby. Mentioned by Norman Joy as captor of Longitarsus nigerrimus, new to Britain, by night sweeping at Cleethorpes on 7 Sept. 1907.(EMM., 43, 1908, p.104) There is a typed letter in vol 1 of the Sharp correspondence at Liverpool. (p.164). FESL 1920-29. (MD 12/04, 12/06)
WALLER, Richard Published ‘Observations on the ‘Cicindela volans or flying glowworm’’ in Philos.Trans.RSL., 15, 1684, pp.841-845. (MD 12/04)
WALSH, Benjamin Dean 21 September 1808 – 12 November 1869 Well known American economic entomologist who worked on beetles. Mentioned here because he was born in Frome and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before emigrating. (MD 12/04)
WALSH, George Beckworth 1880 – 1957 Published the list of Coleoptera in The Natural History of the Scarborough District, which he edited with F.C.Rimington ( 2 vols. Scarborough Field Naturalists Soc., 1956.) The first of many notes he published in EMM was ‘Leistus montanus on Skiddaw’ (46, 1910, pp.16-17) in which he refers to Newbery confirming the determination ‘with his usual kindness’. By 1914 he was living in Jarrow-on-Tyne when ‘my friend’ W.E.Sharp stayed with him. (ibid., 50, 1914, p.40). Other Coleopterist friends at this time were T.Stainforth of Hull and J.Gardner. Later in life Walsh became more interested in Lepidoptera and on these he published an important article on Industrial Melanism at Scarborough (ibid. 91, 1954, pp.231-32). His collection of beetles, amounting to some 24,000 specimens, was purchased by Scarborough Museum in 1955 and is maintained separately. It is accompanied by some diaries, catalogues, note books and record books. The Museum also has his collection of 80 volumes of bound separates and card index, and his entomological library of more than 1000 books and periodicals. Other specimens are in the general collection at Doncaster, the RHS (15 specimens: Carabids and Chrysomelids, information from Andy Salisbury) and in the Hancock Museum, Bolton (donated 1914, 1915, 1917). Gilbert (1977) p.402 mentions an account of him in the Scarborough Evening News, 25 October 1954, and there is a pen portrait in the same paper 20 March 1947 which I have not seen. (MD 12/04, 1/07)
WALTERS, O.H. 50 Coleoptera collected by Walters in Pinetown, Natal were acquired by the HDO in 1965 (Smith (1986) p.158). FESL 1920-26. (MD 12/04)
WALTON, John 23 July 1784 – 3 January 1862 Little seems to be known about Walton who was a specialist in Curculionidae. He published 15 articles on this group between 1837 and 1852, and also a separate booklet titled List of British Curculionidae with synonyma in 1856. His insects were sold by Stevens on 24 March 1863 (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p.101) when the HDO purchased several lots including a large box of Staphylinidae (Smith (1986) p.158) and the NHM purchased ‘as complete a set as possible... of the specimens which had been the subject of his papers... these specimens are incorporated in the collection of British Coleoptera. Walton... put himself in touch with Germar, Schonherr and Chevrolet, and received numerous specimens from the. Unfortunately he did not indicate from whom the various specimens were received. A considerable number of these were purchased by the Trsutees in 1863. They are kept in two separate drawers with then original labels’ (Waterhouse, p.599). Letters to C.O. and G.R. Waterhouse (1840) are also in the NHM. FESL 1833-1863 (Vice President 1840-41, 1846-47; Council 1839-42, 1845-47, 1849). (MD 12/04)