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

Published two notes on Trypodendron lineatum (Oilv.) in Ent/mon.Mag., 98, 1962, 52 & 66. At this time he was attached to the Forest Research Station, Alice Holt Lodge, Wrecclesham, Farnham, Surrey. (MD 8/17)

BALFOUR-BROWNE, John ('Jack') William Alexander Francis.A.F. 15 May 1907 - 11 June 2001

Born in Larne, Northern Ireland, the son of William Alexander Francis Balfour-Browne the well known Coleopterist. Educated at Rugby School, and at Oxford (1925-1927) and Cambridge (1928-1931) Universities. Immediately after leaving Cambridge served as an economic entomologist to the Junta Geral, Madeira. In 1934 took up a post at the NHM where he worked in the Entomology Department, becoming Head of the Coleoptera Section, until his retirement in 1967.

Apart from a few papers on Apion between 1942 and 1945, and an article on the nomenclature of the Cryptophagidae in 1953, almost all Balfour-Browne's work was  on the Dytiscidae (including Noteridae), Hydraenidae and Hydrophilidae. In these groups he published some seventy articles, etc. between 1936 and 1979, covering the faunas of Fiji, China, Japan, Arabia, Africa, Tibet and other countries. This must have disappointed Guy Marshall who wrote to Colbran Wainwright 29 December 1944 ‘...I am helping Jack Balfour-Browne to make a start with the weevils, so that he can carry on my work when I get too doddery.’ (Letter in RES quoted in Pedersen (2002),140.

He maintained a small reference collection of aquatic beetles and his other material was deposited in collections at Paris, Tervuren, Honolulu, San Francisco, NHM, etc.. Harvey et. al. (1996), list various manuscript materials at the NHM including notebooks, typescripts and correspondence.

FRES, FZS and President of the Balfour-Browne Club. (Information from J.W.A.F.B-B.) (MD 9/01, 11/09)

BALFOUR-BROWNE, William ('Frank') Alexander Francis 1874 - 28 September 1967

 Born in 1874 the son of a distinguished Barrister, and from an early age showed a keen interest in natural history. Educated at St. Paul's School, London where he won a prize for a collection of beetles taken in the school playground. Went to Magdalen College, Oxford where he read Natural Science taking his B.A. degree in Botany in 1896 and was awarded a half blue for cycling. After graduating he decided that the Law might be a suitable career and after qualifying he was called to the Bar in 1898. A little over a year later he decided to return to natural science, this time to zoology. He had been impressed by the lack of field courses in this subject at Oxford compared with those in botany, and this influenced his decision. Appointed Assistant Naturalist at the Marine Biological Station at Plymouth, but soon after his marriage in 1902 took up the post of Director of the Sutton Broad Laboratory, famous as a pioneer freshwater biological station.

It was while working at Sutton Broad that Balfour-Browne, encouraged by David Sharp, made a survey of the water beetles of the area of East Norfolk, and became aware of their distinct habitat associations. In 1906 he took up the post of Lecturer and Demonstrator in Belfast. Moved in 1913 to Cambridge where he was Lecturer in Entomology, a post which he held until 1925. His successful course was eventually published as A Text-Book of Practical Entomology (1932). In 1925 he decided to retire from teaching to devote his full time to water beetles, and with this in view moved to Somerset. Shortly after, however, he was persuaded to accept the Chair of Entomology at Imperial College, where he remained until finally retiring in 1930.

Balfour-Browne’s revision of the difficult section of Haliplus Latreille appeared in 1915 (Ann.Mag.nat.Hist., (8) 15, 7-124), while his first account of the Deronectes depressus-elegans complex was published in 1919 (ibid., (9) 3, 293-308). Full time work on the water beetles enabled him to gather together a mass of information which served as the basis for his well known three volume work British Water Beetles, published by the Ray Society between 1940 and 1958 The last decade of the Professor's life brought a small number of Papers covering such subjects as distribution and routes of arrival of British water beetles, in which he was particularly interested, and, stimulated by Kevan's revision of Helophorus F., on taxonomy. His final paper was published only weeks before his death at the advanced age of 93.

Balfour-Browne's collection, including his note books and card indexes, passed to the RSM in 1962 and Pedersen (2002), 84, 137, lists correspondence in the RES with C. Wainwright and D.Jackson. There is a detailed obituary by Robert Angus in Ent.mon.Mag., 103, 1967, 286-288. from which much of the above is taken, and a further account by A.R. Waterson in Yearbook of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1966-7, 8-10. His own autobiographical work Water Beetles and Other Things (Dumfries 1962) also gives a great deal of information. The Balfour-Browne Club is named after him. (MD 9/01, 11/09)

BALY, Joseph Sugar 1816 - 27 March 1890

Born in Warwick the eldest son of Joseph Baly. His brother was Price Richard Baly, the engineer. Educated at the Grammar school in Warwick and subsequently at St. George's Hospital, London and the infirmary at Shrewsbury. After graduating as a Doctor of Medicine he moved to Paris before returning to England, first in Leamington and then in London where he 'secured a very large practice and formed the friendship of many scientific men of the day, including the chiefs at the British Museum'. After his health broke down he returned to Warwick in about 1868 and remained there until his death in 1890. At various times he was Medical Officer of Health for Leamington and also medical officer of the Union Infirmary. He also served as a J.P. and was Honorary Curator of the Warwick Museum.

Baly's interest in entomology appears to have been stimulated initially by his work on microscopy. David Sharp recorded that about 1850 'he visited Mr S. Stevens, in Bloomsbury Street, in search of objects for his microscope, and he purchased a small collection of Indian Hymenoptera. He entered into a correspondence with Mr H.W. Bates, who was then in the Amazon Valley, and in the course of this informed Mr Bates that the marvels of insect structure revealed by his microscope led him to devote himself more exclusively to entomology. At that time the collections made by Wallace in the Malay Archipelago and by Bates in the Amazon Valley were arriving in this country and Baly having a good series of the phytophagous Coleoptera from them, found full occupation for his leisure time...’ (Ent, 23, 1890, 199).

From this beginning Baly went on to become the foremost worker on this group of his day. He amassed a huge collection and described enormous numbers of new species in a series of articles and books which commenced with his 'Monograph of the Australian species of Chrysomela, Phyllocharis and allied genera’ in Trans.ent.Soc.Lond., (2)3, 1855, 170-186,241-263, and ended with descriptions of new species of Galerucinae in the year of his death. His best known publications are probably his Catalogue of the Hispidae in the British Museum (1858) and the 'Phytophaga Malayana, a revision of the phytophagous beetles of the Malay archipelago, with descriptions of the new species collected by Alfred R. Wallace' in Trans.ent.Soc.Lond., 1865, 1-76 and 1867, 77-300.

Baly’s collection was purchased in parts by the NHM between 1880 and 1905 and amounted in all to some 28,000 specimens including more than 1,200 types. Many Coleoptera had earlier (1855-56) been exchanged by the Museum for Baly specimens and other specimens purchased from him in 1860. Some Coleoptera and Hymenoptera were sold by Stevens on 25 November 1890. Insects other than beetles were purchased by the HDO in 1857 and March 1877.

Apart from the account by Sharp already mentioned, Gilbert (1977) lists a further five references. (MD 9/01, 6/18)

BANCROFT, F. A collection of beetles made by Bancroft amounting to about 800 specimens and including many given to him by K.C.Side, belonged to Ian M. White of the Nature Conservancy Council, Edinburgh in 1982. (MD 9/01)
BANKES, Eustace Ralph 1861 ?1862 - 9 December 1929

Primarily known as a Lepidopterist but did publish 'Abundance of Cetonia aurata in 1895' in Ent.mon.Mag., 32, 1896, 40-41, and 'Early appearance of Cicindela campestris' in ibid, 35, 1899, 93. Bankes was an active and successful field worker until about 1909 when he became ill.

His library passed to the HDO and his Lepidoptera to the NHM, where there is also a large collection of his manuscript material. Pedersen (2002),118, lists a letter, to C.J. Wainwright in the RES. There are obituaries in EMM, 66, 1930, 63 (anon); Ent., 63, 1930, 47-48 (R. Adkin) and Proc.ent.Soc.Lond., 5, 1931, 130-131 (K. Jordan). (MD 9/01, 11/09)

BANKS, Edward

Published an article entitled 'Glow worm' in Sci. Gossip, 5, 1870, 71. Is this perhaps the same E. Banks who is listed in the Ent.Ann. 1857 as 'at Mr Stubbs 1, Sadler Street, Durham’? (MD 9/01)


Smith (1986), 102, records that collections of Hymenopera and Coleoptera from the Federated Malay States were acquired by the HDO in 1910 and 1911. (MD 9/01)

BANKS, Sir Joseph 13 February 1743 - 19 June 1820

There are numerous accounts of Banks, the well known botanist and traveller with Captain Cook and Dr Carl Solander on H.M.S. Endeavour to Australia, including one by a Coleopterist (C. MacKechnie Jarvis, 'Sir Joseph Banks, Bt., K.B. (Naturalist), 1743-1820’ in Proc.S.Lond.ent.nat.Hist.Soc., 1943-4, 60-68). Others are listed in the comprehensive account in DNB. All mention that Banks collected insects but give little further information.

Banks’s collection, which includes Coleoptera, survives in the NHM and is interesting because it contains the types of many species described by Fabricius. In his 'Autobiography' (Trans.Ent.Soc.Lond., IV, 1845-7.) Fabricius explained that 'from 1772-1775 I spent the winters in Copenhagen and the summers in London. My friends Mr Banks and Dr Solander had returned from their voyage round the world, and had brought with them innumerable specimens of natural history and insects. I now lived very pleasantly. With Banks, Hunter and Drury, I found plenty of objects to engage my time...’. Another entomologist who also regularly visited Banks at this time was C.P. Thunberg. Like Fabricius and Solander, Thunberg was also a pupil of Linnaeus.

In 1819, shortly before his death in the following year, Banks's collections passed to the Linnaean Society where they remained until 1863 when they were given to the NHM. Sometime after acquisition, the collection was re-housed, all the insects except the Coleoptera which are now stored on the Coleoptera floor, being placed in two twenty drawer cabinets on the Hymenoptera floor. The Coleoptera collection includes 180 species from Brazil, S. Africa, Madeira, India, Siam, China, America, Australia and other countries. Twenty of the Fabrician types are missing and these are listed in the IDR for the year 1863, where all the other specimens are also listed. (MD 9/01)

BANNISTER, R.T. d. 1979

General Practioner who lived for many years in Cornwall after his marriage. Collected extensively in the County, his collection and the ledger containing all the information about it, passing to Truro museum after his death. In 1936 he added Trogophloeus (Carpelimus) despectus Baudi to the British list (Ent.mon.Mag., 72, 1936, 78-9) but subsequently deleted the record because the specimen was lost and he felt unsure of the identification, (ibid., 107, 1971, p.33). He added several species to the Cornish list (ibid., 101, 1965,15; 110, 1974, 252; and 111, 1975, 22). Bannister also interested himself in Hemiptera, and was a member of the AES. (Information from Mrs Mildred Bannister, his widow). (MD 9/01)