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 ascending Dates Biography
WHITE, Adam 29 April 1817 – 4 January 1879 Born in Edinburgh and educated in the High School there. Came to London determined to pursue natural history in which he had a strong interest and joined the staff of the British Museum in December 1835. From 1842 –1850 he had charge of the Coleoptera Collections. Waterhouse et.al. (1906) p.553, states that in 1846 ‘he arranged the Cetoniadae and, in 1847, the Hydrocanthari; commencing the Buprestidae the same year, he completed them in 1848; then proceeded to the Cleridae, completed in 1849’. In 1851-52 he was engaged upon the Longicornia which he completed in 1855. He retired from the Museum with mental problems in 1863 and was granted a pension. His obituary in EMM., 15, 1879, pp.210-211, records that even though he was confined to several asylums in Scotland he still continued to write. During his time at the Museum White published many papers on a range of subjects including some twenty or so on Coleoptera, most describing new species, particularly Cerambycidae, and several catalogues. The types of nearly all the specimens he described are in the NHM. FESL 1839-56. (MD 12/04)
WHICHER, Leonard Sydney 1912-1998 A collection of 1,000 Coleoptera, mostly Aphodiinae from especially the Home Counties and the south, was acquired by Manchester in 1965. Other families were acquired by M.L.Luff (Carabidae), L. Christie. (Johnson (2004) p.16) and there are specimens in K. Lewis's collectioon. (MD 12/04)
WHICHER, Leonard Sydney 1912 - 1998 K.C.Lewis tells me that there are specimens in his collection collected by Whicher and a collection of 1,000 Coleoptera, mostly Aphodiinae from especially the Home Counties and the south, was acquired by Manchester in 1965. Other families were acquired by M.L. Luff (Carabidae) and L. Christie. (Johnson (2004) p. 16). (MD 12/04, 12/06)
WHEATER, Charles Philip b.25 December 1956 FRES 1981-83 when he was technician in the Zoology Department at Manchester University and had a special interest in Carabidae (MD 1/07)
WESTWOOD, John Obadiah 22 December 1805 – 2 January 1893 Born in Sheffield, the son of John Westwood, a medallist and die sinker. Educated in Sheffield and Lichfield before leaving school at the age of 14 to serve as an apprentice engraver. He was then articled to a firm of solicitors and received certificates to practise as an attorney, solicitor and proctor, but soon gave up the law for a career in entomology which he had been studying at the same time as his legal training. He had a modest private income but augmented this by drawing, at which he was particularly adept, especially insects and the reproduction of early manuscripts about which he published several important books. In 1833 he was involved with the setting up of the ESL and in the following year he took on the Honorary Secretaryship, a post which he held until 1847, when he resigned because of new laws demanding that he do more work than he had time for. Neave (1933) writes of his work there ‘To westwood more than any other person is due the successful growth of the Society during this period. In this capacity he became friendly with Frederick Hope, the President, whom he had first met in 1824. Westwood visited Hope’s home to study and help conserve his extensive collections and the two men often travelled to Europe, both being good linquists. On these visits they frequently met up with many of the best-known continental entomologists of their day and studied many of the major collections. Eventually Hope appointed Westwood as his curator on £30 per annum for one day a week. It was hardly surprising then, that when Hope founded the Chair of Zoology at Oxford in 1858, following the Gift of his collections by a special Deed dated 4 August 1849, he should have nominated Westwood as its first incumbent. Westwood’s earliest interest in insects is dated by Smith (1986) to 1820 and the earliest specific reference to Coleoptera to June 1823 when he called on A.H.Haworth ‘when he showed me his Coleoptera and prom’d to give me some’. In September Haworth gave him leave to draw many of his insects and by October he had completed ‘a manuscript catalogue of the Coleoptera’. This does not appear to have been published, but more than 400 notes and articles on entomology and several books subsequently were of which the best known is undoubtedly the Introduction to the Modern Classification of Insects 1838-40 (on the dates of publication and contents of the parts of this work see F.J.Griffin’s notes in Trans.ESL., 1931, p.61). It was largely as a result of Darwin’s enthusiasm for this volume that he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society in 1855. Ironically, Westwood was a fierce opponent of natural selection throughout his life. There is a complete list of publications in Horn and Schenkling (1928) and Derksen and Scheiding (1963-1975). The most important of the books written and illustrated by Westwood which include beetles are: Arcana Entomologica, or Illustrations of new, rare, and interesting exotic insects (2 vols 1841-45) and Thesaurus Entomologicus Oxoniensis; or, illustrations of new , rare, and interesting insects, for the most part contained in the collections presented to the Univesity of Oxford by the Rev. F.W.Hope (1874). Amongst those including Coleoptera which he illustrated are Stephens’ Illustrations (1827-46), Hope’s Coleopterists Manual (1837-40) and Wollaston’s Insecta Maderensia (1854). He was also responsible for preparing new editions of several works including Donovan’s works on the Natural History of the Insects of China (1838) and India (1838) Westwood’s entire collection which included many insects purchased, exchanged and given by other collectors, was purchased by Hope and presented to the HDO on 31 July 1857. Smith (1986) p.159 gives a detailed list of what it comprised which includes many references to insects generally. Specific references to Coleoptera include: A set of nine large deal stained drawers containing exotic Coleoptera, a set of 13 deal store boxes covered with green cloth containing British Coleoptera; four boxes of Coleoptera and Hymenoptera selected from Mr Bateman’s collection made at Melborne Australia; three double boxes covered with green calico containing exotic Heteromera and Clavicorn Coleoptera A set of 13 large double store boxes covered with green calico, containing exotic Coleoptera Orthoptera (and one, illustrations of economy); one large double box painted green with Lucanidae and Rutelidae; one large double store box Ceylon Coleoptera Wollaston; ditto. Hymenoptera and Coleoptera from Turpentine Raddon... The huge collection of mss and related material in the HDO had not been fully catalogued at the time of Smith (1986) but, of what had been done, she lists: Diary covering the period 1820-37; notes made during visits abroad 1830-69; and in regard to Coleoptera in particular: ms notes and drawings, some for published work, including work on Paussidae (with letters from J.G.Children, R.Brown, and Dr Horsfield; Cremastocheilus and Lucanidae (letters from F.J.S.Parry and H.Schaum); a few drawings of Wollaston’s Madeira Coleoptera; Coleoptera from Hong Kong and China with list by J.G.Champion; Papers on Staphylinus and other genera of families; Copies of drawings made for Andrew Murray’s Monograph 1859-60; Interleaved copy of a Catalogue of Dejean’s collection; and a collection of plates from published work. For a more information about his early life and involvement with entomology the reader is recommended to consult Smith (1986) pp. 35-46 . A collection of Westwood papers in the Smithsonian Institution is detailed by R.S.Wilkinson ERJV., 91, 1979, pp.245-46. I assume that this is the material which was subsequently donated to the HDO in 1982 (Oxford Times, 21 May, front page). Pedersen (2002) records that there are drawings by him in Templeton’s scrapbook and other material in the RESL. She also illustrates in colour his drawing for the Obligation Book of the Society signed by the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria in 1835 which includes a stag beetle. FLS from 1827 (Honorary Life-President 1883-91; President 1851-52, 1872-73, 1876-77; Vice President 1853, 1855-56, 1866-67, 1871, 1874, 1878) and an honorary member of numerous other foreign and British Societies. In addition to the 19 references given by Gilbert (1977) is M.D. Hainsworth 'Who was J.O. Westwood?' in Biologist, 37, 1990, p. 133. (MD 12/04)FLS from 1827 (Honorary Life-President 1883-91; President 1851-52, 1872-73, 1876-77; Vice President 1853, 1855-56, 1866-67, 1871, 1874, 1878) and an honorary member of numerous other foreign and British Societies. In addition to the 19 references given by Gilbert (1977) is M.D.Hainsworth ‘Who was J.O.Westwood?’ in Biologist, 37, 1990, p.133. (MD 12/04)
WESTON, Walter Philip 1852 – 1881 British Lepidoptera and Coleoptera collections were auctioned by Stevens on 14 June 1881 (Chalmers-Hunt (1976), p.114). (MD 12/06)
WEST, William (1836-1920) Gave Hemiptera to the NHM in 1919 and Coleoptera to S.R.Ashby at the same time. (MD 12/06)
WEST, William 1867 – 19 July 1936 Followed a medical career which led to his joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. He received serious injuries at the battle of Loos from which he never fully recovered. On retirement he lived on the Isle of Wight where he was closely associated with the Natural History Society of which he was President for 2 years. His main interest in entomology was in beetles.(Proc. RESL ., (C) 1, 19376, p.56) I assume that this is the same W.West whose name appears on Hydradephaga in the general collection at Manchester and who Hancock & Pettit (1981) record as giving specimens to the Kidson Taylor collection, but see below. FRES 1923-37. (MD 12/04, 12/06)
WEST, W. This name appears on Hydradephaga in the general collection at Manchester and Hancock and Pettit (1981) record that specimens from him are also in the Kidson Taylor collection. (MD 12/04)
WELLER, Jeremy David 1932-7 July 1965 Proc.RESL, 30, 1965-66 (C) p.64 mentions that his interests lay in the ecology of Diptera and Coleoptera. FRES 1956-65 (MD 12/06)

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