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
WEST, William 1836-1920

West was one of the founder members of the South London Entomological Society in 1872, and became curator of their collection in 1879, retaining the role until his death in 1920. His interests included both Hemiptera and Coleoptera the last dating from at least the mid 1860s. Many of his more interesting captures are discussed by Peter Chandler in a comprehsive account of West in Br.J.Ent.Nat.Hist, 34, 202, 31-68 which includes two portrait photographs and a bibliography.

Chandler records that 'the bulk of West's collection of Coleoptera is in the Colchester Museum and is accompanied by two diaries including numbered lists of specimens respectively from 1-4,180 (entitled The Cabinet of Coleoptera numbered) and 4,181-10,000 (The collection of Coleoptera in cabinet numbered part 2) of which 920 numbers, mainly in the later pages, have no entry against them. These numbers correspond  to a number on the card on which the specimen is mounted. It is apparent from the collection that the number applied to all specimens of a species found at the same time. The listing is not systematic, nor is it completely chronological, with mixed years often on the same page. Later years are mainly found in the higher numbers, but the majority of the early entries have no dates associated. Two further diaries, similarly numbered and with mostly corresponding lists are held in the Liverpool Museum. Covering the period 1903-1909 these are entitled W.West Ent. Diary (Coleoptera) and respectively comprise listings  of nos 56232-7419 and 7420-9340 including a note that 600 numbers (6287-6886) had not been used.' He also gives more information about the diaries contents in regard to the places visited and the evidence they provide of contacts with other Coleopterists including most of the better known collectors of the period many of whom donated to his collection. In identifying species he had help from Harry Britten, William Fowler and Norman Joy.

Chandler also includes Photographs of pages from the diaries and of mounted specimens from his collection.

Not to be confused with William West (1847-1917), the Lepidopterist who was also much involved with the South London becoming President in 1884.

 (MD 12/06, 3/21)

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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 (1906) p.553, state 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. There is a portrait in N.L. Evenhuis, The Life and Work of Francis Walker 1809-1874, in Fly Times (Supplement 2), 27 September 2018, 1-100. FESL 1839-56. (MD 12/04, 12/20)

WHITE, Francis Buchanan 20 March 1842 – 3 December 1894 Well known botanist, Lepidopterist and Hemipterist who founded the Scottish Naturalist in 1871. Michael Taylor tells me that there are a large number of his beetles in Perth Museum which, together with those of Thomas McGregor, form the basis of the Museum collection. His obituary in ERJV., 6, 1895, p.56 makes no mention of Coleoptera. FESL 1868-94. Gilbert lists 8 other obituaries including Ent., 28, 1895, pp.25-27, which includes a portrait and bibliography. (MD 12/04)
WHITE, J.S. A Coleopterist who lived at Droylsdon, near Manchester. His collection was acquired by Tomlin. (Information from Adrian Amsden). (MD 12/04)
WHITE, Michael George FRES from 1953 with an interest in wood boring beetles and forest insects. (MD 1/07)