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
ABBOT, John 31 May or 1 June 1751 - Dec 1840 or Jan 1841

Although known primarily as an American entomologist Abbot was born in Bennet Street, St. James, London the eldest son of James Abbot and Ann Clousinger, before moving to North America in July 1773. Many biographies (28 listed in Gilbert 1977) record the important role he played there in the establishment of entomology as a serious science. In a manuscript autobiography in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Abbot gives an account of his early life in England: 'my peculiar liking for Insects was long before I was acquainted with any method of keeping them father had a Country House at Turnham Green ... and I remember breeding some there ... In one of my Walks after insects I met with a Mr Van Dest the famous flower painter, he invited me to come & see him, he had been a small collector, showed me a pattern of the large Net, & gave me some rare insects. I got me immediately a Net made & begun to understand keeping them better. My Father got a Mr Boneau [Jacob Bonneau (1741-1786)], an engraver, & Drawing Master, to give me some lessons of Drawing at our own house, he was acquainted with a Mr Rice a Teacher of Grammar, who had likewise been a collector of Insects, Br Boneau ... praised my Drawings of Insects, & got me through Mr Rice introduced to Mr Drury who had been President of the Linnean Society & who then allowed to have the best Collection of Insects both English & Foreign of any one. I leave you to judge my pleasure and astonishment at the sight of his Cabinets the first I had ever seen of the kind he very politely offered to lend me some insects to draw, & we immediately became well acquainted. That hour may be said to have given me a new turn to my future life. I had immediately a Mahogany Cabinet made of 26 Draws, covered with sliding tops of Glass, it cost me 6 Guineas, & began to collect with increasing industry I met soon after & purchased a parcel of beautiful insects from Surinam ...'

            It is not clear whether the insects referred to included beetles but some of Abbot's illustrations certainly did (see, for example, a stag beetle reproduced in A. Mallis, American Entomologists, 1971, 5). Many of his drawings were sent to his friends in England and there are 19 volumes of water-colour paintings of the insects and plants of Georgia in the BMNH, and other paintings in the BM. Other drawings are listed in G.D.R.Brison, V.C.Phillips & A.P.Harvey, Natural History Manuscript Resources in the British Isles, 1980. and there is a list of the American holdings together with a short account of his life in America on Wikipedia.

            Abbot's collections were dispersed. Some are known to have passed to his friend J. Francillon and others to A.H.Norvich, others were lost at sea. There are specimens in the BMNH, the National Museum of Science and Art, Dublin, and the Kolonial und Ubersee Museum, Bremen. (MD 8.17)


143 coleoptera collected by Abraham from various localities were part of the Imperial Bureau of Entomology gifts to the BMNH in October 1920 and November 1922. MD (8/17)


Gave 37 beetles from Belgium to the BMNH in 1965 and in the following year 1332 from Portugal collected with M. Bacchus. (MD 8/17)


J.F.Stephens (1828) p.48 records that a J. Abraham presented him with a ‘fine and perfect’ male of Carabus intricatus found in some dried wood brought from the vicinity of Ashburton. (MD 7.01)

ACKLAND, M. There are Coleoptera bearing this name in the collection at Oldham Museum (Information from S.Hayhow). Perhaps this is the D.M.Ackland who recorded the presence of Dorcus parallelipipedus (L.) with ants in a tree at Weston-super-Mare in EMM., 79, 1943, p.251, and who at that time lived at 17 Grange Park, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol? (MD 7.01)
ADAMS, Arthur 1820-1878

Published a ‘Systematic list of the Coleoptera found in the vicinity of Alverstoke, South Hants.’ in Zool, 14-16, 1856-58. Immediately after he seems to have travelled to the Far East, notes about the beetles he found there being published in Zool in 1860, 1861 and 1863, and in AMNH in 1861. Nissen, C.(1969) lists him as the Editor of The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Samarang under the Command of Capt. Sir Edward Belcher during the years 1843-46, (1848-), 1850, which includes 106 plates of insects, and as a contributor to G.B.Sowerby, Thesaurus Conchyliorum, (1842-), 1847-87. In 1870 he published a book entitled Travels of a Naturalist in Japan and Manchuria. Listed in Ent. Ann., 1860, at Brook Cottage, Alverstoke, Hants., together with his wife who is also recorded to have an interest in British beetles.

There are Coleoptera collected by Adams in the Rippon Collection, NMW (information from A.H.Kirk-Spriggs). (MD 7.01)

ADAMS, Frederick Charlstrom d. February 1920

Best known as a New Forest Dipterist (see obituaries in Ent.News, 32, 1921, p.64 and EMM., 56, 1920, p.256; his collections are in the NHM) but he did show an example of Cantharis rustica Fallen at the ESL in 1892 (Trans.Proc., 1892, p.iv) and I have seen beetles collected by him in the general collection at Doncaster Museum. Chalmers-Hunt, J.M. (1976) notices that a collection of beetles formed by Adams was auctioned by Stevens on 11 March 1919, but Hancock, E.G. and Pettit, C.W. (1981), state that this was, in fact, a collection of Diptera in six boxes and is now in Bolton Museum and Art Gallery. There is a letter from Adams to C.B.Wainwright from Victoria Street, London SW dated 1909 in the RES (Pedersen (2002), 118). (MD 7.01, 11/09)

ADAMS, Herbert Jordan 1838-1912 Primarily interested in Lepidoptera (see obituaries in EMM., 48, 1912, p.243, and Trans.ESL., 1912, p.clxv) but Chalmers-Hunt, J.M. (1976) records that some British Coleoptera were auctioned by Stevens on 24 September 1912. Adams, who lived in Enfield for most of his life, was the brother of Frederick Charlstrom Adams and one of the founder members of the Enfield Entomological Society. He gave one collection to that Society and another, formed during the last thirty years of his life, of Lepidoptera to the NHM. This last (140,000 specimens) was given with the stipulation that it should be known as the ‘Adams Collection’. In a manuscript journal now in the University Museum, Cambridge, Oliver Janson records that he acquired beetles at the sale of the ‘Adams Collection’ in May 1873 and perhaps this may have been an earlier collection formed by Adams. Correspondence relating to the sale is in the Janson archive in the NHM. FES 1877-1912. (MD 7.01)
ADAMSON, Charles Henry Ellison d. 25 June 1930

W.W.Fowler named Paussus adamsoni after Adamson who collected it at Minhu, Irawadi when stationed there as a Colonel in the Royal Artillery (FBI, Coleoptera, General Introduction, 1912, p.481). Later he became Assistant Commissioner and Chief Magistrate in Mandalay before leaving Burma after more than twenty years. On his return to England he lived at Crag Hall, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne. P.Davis and C.Brewer (1986) record that collections of Lepidoptera and Ethnographical material made by him are in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne, together with published catalogues, but do not mention Coleoptera. Adamson was a Committee member of the Nat. Hist. Soc. Northumb. 1897-, Hon. Curator, Invertebrate Zoology, 1897- and Vice- President, 1903-07. (MD 7.01)

AIRY SHAW, Herbert Kenneth See SHAW, Herbert Kenneth Airy