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.

The filter boxes below can be used to find individual entries or groups of entries in the table. You can filter by surname (enter a single letter to see all names beginning with that letter, or enter the first part of a particular surname), or by any part of the full name, or you can filter the main biographical text. You can use the filters in combination, e.g. to search for both a name and some biography text at the same time. Don't forget to click on the Apply button to make your filter work. To remove your filter, delete the text you typed in and then click "Apply" again.

Type in the first letter/s of the surname
Type in any part of the name
Type in any text
Namesort descending Dates Biography

There are beetles collected by Basden in the RSM. He worked at the Pest Infestation Laboratory, Slough. (MD 8/17)

BASDEN, E.B. There are beetles collected by Basden in the RSM. He worked at the Plant Infestation Laboratory, Slough. (MD 9/01)

Made a collection to illustrate Economic Entomology in thirty one boxes which was purchased by Bolton Museum. Parts are now loaned out to schools. Another collection was purchased by Birmingham Museum for £30 on 17 April 1918 (Accessions Book no. 19). (MD 9/01)

BATE, Miss D.M.A.

Insects including Coleoptera collected in Cyprus were acquired by the HDO in several batches between 1901 and 1908 (Smith 1986, 102). (MD 9/01)

BATEMAN, H. William

Listed in the Ent. Ann. 1857 at 6 Islington Green, London and in 1860 at 80 Upper Street, Islington, London. His interests are recorded as British and foreign Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. Possibly the same Bateman from whose collections made at Melbourne, Australia, Westwood acquired Coleoptera and Hymenoptera, which passed to the HDO in 1857. (Smith 1986,102). (MD 9/01)

BATES, Frederick 18 November 1829 - 6 October 1903

Born in Leicester, a younger brother of Henry Walter Bates. He spent most of his life in the town, or in the county, until moving to London in 1896. He was a successful brewer becoming Vice-Chairman of his own company. In his obituary  Entomologist's Rec.J.Var., 15, 1903, 347-49, Donisthorpe recorded that Bates's interests included music, of which he is recorded to have had ‘a thorough knowledge'; Latin; French, which he could read easily; and the works of Spencer, Huxley and Darwin. On philosophical subjects 'he possessed as complete a knowledge of, and insight into ... as any man living'.  He died at his residence, 417, High Road, Chiswick, London.

Bates's interest in entomology appears to have begun with the Coleoptera. He published various notes in Zool. from 1849, and in 1854 was able to prepare for the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society 'A Catalogue of the Coleoptera of Leicestershire' which was read on his behalf by H.E. Quilter. (This was not published. It is noted by Bates's son Ernest in a list of his father's works sent to Horace Donisthorpe when the latter was preparing his obituary) Some time after this he became interested in the Heteromera, doing much original work, and describing many new genera and species.

Most of his publications concerned the Heteromera, but he did publish 'Descriptions of new genera and species of Tenebrionidae from Australia, New Caledonia, and Norfolk Island' and 'Descriptions of new genera and species of Tenebrionidae from the Island of Madagascar in Trans.ent.Soc.Lond., 3, 1873, 347-380 and 4, 1879, 277-307. A third  paper on this group had appeared in the same periodical in 1872. Bates's other publication on the Coleoptera was a list of the species found in Bradgate Park which appeared in Transactions Leicester literary Philosophical Society, 4, 1896, 170-176.

Bates's Heteromera collection was purchased by the NHM in two batches in 1881 and 1897 and consisted of 22,390 specimens representing 7,200 species. It incorporated, according to a note by Bates: 'Laferte's collection, comprising second specimens from Dejean's collection. R. Bakewell's collection, including that of Lacordaire (The remaining portion after the British Museum had made a selection). G.R. Waterhouse’s collection. First selection of Major Parry's collection. Desbrochers des Loges' collection of Asida’. A further collection of 22 Rutelidae entered the Museum's collections in 1859 by exchange.

The NHM also has some manuscript material. This includes a notebook titled A Census of Mr Fred Bates Collection of Heteromera with notes, October 1880; an Index to Bates’s collection with localities (formerly the property of Horace Donisthorpe); a Catalogue of the duplicate Heteromera of the collection Dejean purchased of the Marquis F. de Breme by the Marquis de Laferte-Senectere 1841 Now in the possession of F. Bates Leicester 1861; and a List of Eriodius and Tentyria. There is a black-bound manuscript book titled 'Geodephaga’ in the RESL library which apparently belonged to Bates and lists his collection of world ground beetles. Notes against some of the species indicate that he owned some of his brother's collection of Amazonian specimens.

Sharon Reid of the Central Science Laboratory (DEFRA) at York tells me that there is a collection of beetles there all of which are labelled F. Bates and some of which are dated from the 1890s. This must be the collection referred to by Donisthorpe as the extensive British Coleoptera collection which he formed towards the end of his life and about which Charles Mackechnie Jarvis wrote to me: ‘The F. Bates collection passed to the late Prof. G.W. Nicholson (a medic) and thence to B.S. Williams of Harpenden, my wife’s father. The collection then in poor condition, was housed in single sided shallow varnished store boxes in three vertical rows in two glass fronted book cases with heavy sliding doors of the thickness of sash windows (and very like them). I saw this collection at Harpenden many years ago and know that Williams incorporated in his own cabinet collection, the species he needed. The remainder was largely used to augment a collection of Coleoptera at the Plant Pathology Laboratory at Harpenden. B.S. Williams was on the staff and built up a good reference collection there. The B.S.W. private collection was presented to the Liverpool Museum by his widow... The Bates store boxes were dispersed but the two ‘bookcases’ of heavy construction are in use in my office... In the Manuscript list the Leicestershire species are distinquished by a capital L and where captured by or known to Bates the localities and details of occurrence are entered in fine writing on the interleaving. Whether Nicholson had the Bates collection from Donisthorpe I do not know. I see he mentions it as his in the F. Bates obit. But Horn & Kahle give Nicholson only.’

Apart from the obituary already noted there are others in Ent.mon.Mag., 39, 1903, 286-7 and Trans.ent.Soc.Lond., LXXIV-LXXV, 1903. I am grateful to Tony Irwin who has pointed out that there are a large number of insects which bear the initials F.B, presumably Frederick Bates, in E.A. Butler’s foreign collection of Coleoptera and Hemiptera at Norwich Museum. See also Nevinson, Basil (QV). (MD 9/01, 10/03, 11/09)

BATES, Henry Walter 8 February 1825 - 16 February 1892

Born in Leicester, the elder brother of Frederick Bates. Educated at Billesden school until the age of thirteen when he was apprenticed to a hosiery manufacturer. Worked from 7am to 8pm but managed, nevertheless, to attend classes at the Mechanics Institute where he rapidly became a good Greek, Latin and French scholar, as well as becoming proficient at Drawing and Composition. Translated Homer before going to work in the morning, and read prodigiously. His brother Frederick remembered him saying that 'no one ought to make any pretensions to be considered a reader who had not twice gone through Gibbon's Decline and Fall. He considered travelling to Australia with Stephen Barton but the project fell through. Met A.R. Wallace in 1844-45 when Wallace was a tutor in Leicester, and in April 1848 set sail with him for South America, on the natural history expedition which was to lead to his publishing The Naturalist on the River Amazons (1863), the book for which he is beat known. Returned to England in 1859 and settled in Leicestershire where he married. In 1861 he took up the post of Assistant Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society which he held until his death, aged 68.

Bates's interest in natural history was first aroused by the friends he made at the Mechanics Institute, particularly John Plant and James Harley. His brother Frederick later recalled ‘I have no recollection of his specially pursuing any other branch than entomology ... Like most collectors he commenced with the Lepidoptera, but soon abandoned these for the Coleoptera... Never shall I forget his radiant joy ... when he once came bounding in, shouting in exultation, with his first capture of a 'Tiger' beetle, made in Anstey Lane... Our earliest collections, I well remember, were stored away in such places as table and wash-hand stand drawers. Our collecting nets too were very primitive - a loop of wire soldered into a tin socket to hold a stick... In those days the best collecting grounds were the parts of Charnwood Forest owned by the old Earl of Stamford ... Good Friday was always chosen as the first grand opening day of the season ... My brother used habitually to write a descriptive account of all these expeditions; he would also sketch and write out descriptions of all the principal insects captured'. On this early period and particularly his involvment with James Harley and Francis Plant, see Lott (2009), 5-9.

By the time his apprenticeship was nearing its end Bates had 'formed a very extensive collection of British beetles and was in correspondence with all the chief coleopterists of the time. The study of Coleoptera was a very different thing in those days to what it is at the present time. Then there was nothing much to enable the worker to determine his species but Stephens's Manual, and all who have puzzled over that book will know the difficulties. ... Among the friends made about this time was Mr E. Brown, of Burton-on-Trent, who interested himself in procuring my brother a situation as a clerk in Messers Allsopp's offices at Burton-on-Trent. He remained there until he had made arrangements to start on his memorable expedition...' (Proceedings Royal Geographical Society, Monthly Record of Geography, April 1892, 2-3).

Bates's first article entitled 'Notes on Coleopterous Insects frequenting Damp Places' was published in Zool., 1, 1843, 114-115. This was followed by more than one hundred papers covering entomology, mostly concerned with the Geodephaga and Longicornia, and other articles in the Athenaeum. Many of the more important pieces have been reprinted in E. Gorton Linsley (ed.), The Principal Contributions of Henry Walter Bates to a Knowledge of the Butterflies and Longicorn Beetles of the Amazon Valley, New York 1978.

F. Hope purchased Coleoptera including Cicindelidae (Megacephala) from the Amazon from Bates’ collections for the HDO in June 1858 and 1861. The NHM acquired extensive portions of Bates' collections from 1851 to 1870. This Museum also possesses two notebooks relating to insects of the Amazon Valley with many fine original water-colour drawings which cover the dates 1851-59. There is a pocket book used by Bates on his travels from 1848-1859 in the British Library, and correspondence between Bates and Henry Doubleday of 1864 is in the Passmore Edwardes Museum, Stratford, London. An unfinished mss on the classification of Carabidae which was ‘examined by Dr Sharp, Mr Rene Oberthur and Dr Horn and pronounced to be too incomplete for publication’ is in the RES (Pedersen 2002, 107) together with correspondence including letters to Roland Trimen (1863-67) and Herbert Druce (14 October 1891). Ashley Kirk Spriggs tells me that there are also specimens collected by him in the Rippon Collection, NMW.

The Plant Pathology Laboratory at Harpenden where B.S Williams was on the staff and built up a good reference collection there has some material. This collection was visited by Derek Lott in 1990 who recorded: ‘I looked over the ground beetles... and there were a number of Bates’ specimens there, though by no means anywhere near a complete set. Some specimens were labelled “F. Bates”, but these included specimens collected after Bates’ death, while other genuine Bates specimens were unlabelled. The localities will be difficult, probably impossible to identify from the labels that contain only numbers. Various bits of documentation have parted company with the collection at different times during its tortuous journey from owner to owner...Unfortunately [ the materials Donisthorpe passed to the NHM] appear to be of no use in interpreting the numbers on Bates’ labels’. Lott also visited Liverpool in 1985 and looked at the Williams collection and ‘although there may well be Bates specimens there’ he did not detect any (Lott 2009, 49-50). Simms (1968) notes Bates' material in the W.C. Hey collection in the Yorkshire Museum but it is not clear to which Bates he refers.

Gilbert (1977) lists seventeen obituaries and other notices, the most important of which are probably: that already mentioned above; D. Sharp in Ent., 25, 1892, 77-80; R. MaLachlan in Ent.mon.Mag., 28, 1892, 83-85; and F.D. Godman in Proc.ent.Soc.Lond., 1892, i-iv. (MD 12/21, 1/22)

BATES, J.K. 10 January 1931 – 29 November 1957

Studied zoology at Durham University and carried out research on fleas at Oxford. Lived in Barrowden in Rutland and had a general interest in natural history. He died by suicide. Lott (2009), 28, records that he collected around 200 beetles in Leicestershire in the 1940s and 50s and that his collection is now in the Leicester Museum (Acc. no. Z.25.1983). (MD 11/09)

BATESON, William 8 August 1861 - 8 February 1926

Bateson is best known for his advocacy of Mendel's theory of heredity, a theory he had almost discovered for himself before Mendel's long forgotten Versuche uber Pflanzen-Hybriden was rediscovered in 1900. Bateson was born at Whitby, the elder son of William Henry Bateson, Master of St. John's College, Cambridge. His younger sister was Mary Bateson, the historian. He was educated at Rugby School and St. John's College, Cambridge. Under the influence of Francis Maitland Balfour he took up the study of embryology which led him to visit the United States. There he met W.K.Brooks and became interested in evolution. It was this interest which led to his visiting Western Central Asia in 1886 and Egypt in 1887. After his return to Cambridge he developed his research and theories in Materials for the Study of Variation, published in 1894. Two works on Mendel's theories, were published in 1902 and 1909; and Problems of Genetics, in 1913. It was Bateson who first 'invented' the term genetics.

In 1910, after receiving many academic accolades, Bateson moved to Merton in Surrey where he was appointed Director of the newly opened John Innes Institute. Under his enterprising leadership this quickly established itself as an important centre for biological research, concentrating not just on the theoretical aspects but also on the practical. Many of Bateson's own speeches, etc. at this time were collected together under the title Essays and Addresses (1928). Besides his professional interests Bateson was also interested in art, particularly Prints and Drawings, and in 1922 he was elected a Trustee of the British Museum.

The En.mon.Mag., stated in its obituary 'although entomology was perhaps not Bateson's principal interest, he possessed a sound and extensive knowledge of our science in which he drew largely in his published works'. His writings on entomology included 'On the colour-variations of a beetle of the family Chrysomelidae, statistically examined' in Proc.Zool.Soc.Lond., 1895, 850-860.

Aquatic Coleoptera and Hemiptera collected by Bateson in west Central Asia were acquired by Cambridge University Zoological Collections on 17 October 1922 (Insect Department Register). A collection of his letters notebooks and papers is in the John Innes Institute Library at Norwich (see A. Cock, 'The William Bateson Papers' in Mendel Newsletter, 14, 1977, 1-4), and some correspondence with Henry Druce is in the RESL Library.

FRES from 1894; Council 1898; Vice President 1925. Gilbert (1977) lists seven obituaries and there is an entry in DNB (by R.C.Punnett who knew Bateson) which lists further references. (MD 9/01)

BATH, W. HARCOURT 1882-1932

Primarily a Lepidopterist although he did publish articles on Orthoptera and Odonata, and a note on 'The Stag Beetle in the Midlands' (where he lived) in Ent., 20, 1887, 44-45. Surprisingly, in view of the number and extent of his publications, there appears to be no obituary. His interest in entomology was pursued not only in Europe but also in India where he is recorded by J.G. Arrow to have collected Euchirinae in Darjeeling (FBI, Rutelinae, 1917, 370) Ashley Kirk Spriggs tells me that specimens from Darjeeling are in the Rippon Collection at NMW. (MD 9/01)