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

Collected 513 Coleoptera in Java acquired by the NHM in 1898. (MD 8/17)

ANDREWS, William Valentine 11 February 1811 - 1878

Born in Pilton, Somerset. Entered the Coldstream Guards as a private at an early age and eventually rose to the rank of Captain. Subsequently resigned his commission and moved to London, Ontario where he became engaged in the book trade. From thence he moved to the United States and settled in Brooklyn where he spent the last years of his life in the same branch of business.

Andrews devoted his leisure time chiefly to the pursuit of entomology. His publications mainly concerned Lepidoptera but he did write notes about the Potato Beetle in Sci. Gossip, 11, 1875, 161 and 14, 1878, 1-2,118-119, and also published 'Elytra of Dytiscus and Acilius' in Psyche, 21, 1883, 126.

He had ‘a well arranged collection of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, and a small but well selected library of entomological works’ (Canadian Entomologist, 10, 1878, 240. Also in Report Entomological Society of Ontario, 10, 1879, 35-36). These accounts mention that his collection and library were purchased after his death by John Akhurst of Brooklyn, but Horn & Kahle (1937) notice that his collection passed via L.R. Reynolds to Fr. J. Psota of Chicago. (MD 1/22)

(Note: there have been and, indeed, still are many important entomologists with the names Andrewes and Andrews. Because their names are frequently mis-spelled, even in obituary notices, I have had great difficulty sorting them out. I hope that I have interpreted the material correctly and that the three listed were the main coleopterists).

ANGAS, George French 1882-1886

Born in Durham and educated at Tavistock Grammar School in Devon where he acquired the interest in Conchology on which he would later write several papers. His father, George Fife Angas (1789-1879), a merchant and banker, held several important public posts. George French Angas worked briefly in a counting house in London and then took art lessons. A tour of the Mediterranean in 1841 resulted in the first of several well known books of lithographs. In 1843 he sailed to South Australia and immediately joined an expedition to the Murray River and the Coorong. He travelled widely in New Zealand and in 1845 held exhibitions in Adelaide and Sydney. He also visited the Illawarra region before returning to England in 1846.

These trips appear to have inspired him with an interest in entomology and he is recorded to have sent beetles to the NHM from New Zealand, (1847), Turkey (1849) and South Africa (1848). In 1850 Angas and his wife emigrated to South Australia, where his father had settled two years earlier and he opened a studio in Adelaide. Later he served a term as Director and Secretary of the Government Museum in Sydney before returning to South Australia in 1860. In 1861 he made a further donation of Coleoptera from this area to the NHM.

In 1863 he and his family returned to England and he lived in London for the rest of his life. Here, the writer of his obituary in Proc.Linn.Soc.Lond. 1887, 33-34. reported that his main interest was natural history rather than art and he was an active member of the Linnean Society. It is not known whether he continued to collect beetles at this time.

FRGS, FLS (1866). (MD 8/17, 1/22)

ANGELL, Gordon Locksley b. 29 July 1927

Born in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire and worked for Cyanamid and later BASF UK Ltd. Interested primarily in Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Exopterygota. FRES from 1962. (MD 3/03)

ANGUS, Robert Bagrie b. 14 August 1944

Educated at Gordonstoun and Oxford University. Has been employed as a lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Royal Holloway College, University of London since 1975. Angus's personal collection is limited but is fairly comprehensive in the water beetles to which he has paid particular attention. Within this group he has specialised in Helophorus F. and his collection includes Siberian and other foreign examples of this genus including some paratypes. Insects collected by him may be found in the British Museum; Hope Department; Zoological Institute, Leningrad; Ottawa and other collections.

Published his first note 'Hydroporus marginatus (Dufts.) in East Kent' in the EMM., 99, 1964, 240 and some thirty or so further notes and articles have appeared since in this and other magazines. Most of these concentrate on water beetles and many refer to northern, particularly Scottish records. As an undergraduate Angus became interested in methods of swimming in water beetles publishing several notes on this topic. This work led to his undertaking a D.Phil. at Oxford on 'Taxonomic, Genetic and Ecological Studies on Helophorus F.' which was completed in l969. Seven of the nine chapters of this thesis have since appeared in the EMM., Canad. Ent.. Acta Zool. Fenn., and Trans. R. ent. Soc. Lond.. Between October 1969 and July 1970 Angus visited the USSR, and he has published several notes on the Russian fauna. In discussing the beetles brought back from Mongolia by Dr Kaszab's expeditions he took the opportunity to revise the East Palaearctic Helophorus fauna (Acta. Zool. Hung.,16, 1970, 249-290) and to write some notes on the Fennoscandian and Northern Russian species (Notulae ent., 54, 1974, 25-32). His Russian visit also involved the study of fossil beetles, and he has subsequently published several notes about them including an account of two small faunas from the Weichselian deposits at Voorthuizen in the Netherlands (Mededel. Rijks. Geol. Dienst.,1975) and of a rich assemblage from the middle of the last Glaciation from Isleworth  (J. anim. Ecol. 449 1975, 365- 391; with G.R.Coope). Angus's published work includes descriptions of at least eleven species of Helophorus new to science.

Angus is a member of the Freshwater Biological Association and of the RES.  (Entry supplied by R.B.Angus).

There are 2 pages of correspondence with Colin Johnson in MUNHM (Box 12) dated 1971. (MD 1/22)

ANNANDALE, Thomas Nelson 15 June 1876 – 10 April 1924

Born in Edinburgh. Educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in 1898. In 1899 he joined the Skeat Expedition to the Malay Archipelago, and between 1901 and 1903 he revisited that country on more than one occasion with H.C. Robinson. These were the first of many foreign journeys which took him to Iceland, Palestine, China, Japan, Morocco and elsewhere. From 1902-4 he was a Research Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, where he was awarded a D.Sc. in 1905. He went to India in 1904 as Deputy Superintendent of the Indian Museum in Calcutta. In 1907 he was promoted to Superintendent, in 1923 he was made President of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1923, and in 1924 President of the Zoological Section of the Indian Science Congress. He remained in India until his death, being associated particularly with that country’s Zoological Survey.

Annandale was a man of wide ranging knowledge and ability, the writer of his obituary in Rec.Ind.Museum, XXVII (1), 1925, 1-28, noting that 'he worked with remarkable speed and seemed endowed with a special instinct for taxonomic differences, recognising species almost at a glance but systematic work in its narrowest sense he esteemed but little ... it was his ambition to grapple with larger problems'. This ambition led him to write extensively on many subjects from freshwater sponges to Malayan weaponry, from the dynastic genius of Siam to the growth rate of Barnacles, and from limbless skinks to island life in the Faroes. Amongst this large number of books and articles are thirty two publications on insects of which several concern beetles. These included: an Annotated List of the Asiatic Beetles in the Collection of the Indian Museum. Cicindelinae,(19O9, with W. Horn); ‘The life history of an aquatic weevil’, Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 11, 1906, 105-7 (with C.A. Paiva); and ‘The Cicindelid beetles of Barkuda Island’, Rec. Ind. Museum, XXII, 1921, 335-7 (with C. Dover).

Although Annandale's own work on beetles was not very great, his influence on the study of Coleoptera in India was considerable. As head of the Museum he gave great help and encouragement to entomologists, and there is hardly a book about Indian insects written in the early part of this century which does not mention his name. Furthermore, he established the Records and Memoirs of the Museum which acted as vehicles for entomological publications. Most importantly, he was responsible for seeing through the establishment of the Zoological Survey of India in 1916, of which he was appointed first Director, and under whose auspices the FBI series was continued.

Smith (1986) records that there are several collections of insects at Oxford, including material from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the Siamese States (collected with H.C. Robinson) but does not mention Coleoptera. Harvey record that a MS notebook titled Annandale Coll[ection]: Ruwenzori Coll. Including notes about material collected on the Ruwenzori (Uganda) Expedition 1905-06 and unpublished notes and descriptions of new species, is in the NHM. (MD 7.01)


Gave 411 beetles from Africa to NHM in 1966. (MD 8/17)

ANSORGE, Sir Eric Cecil 6 March 1887 - 3 January 1977

Educated at St. Paul's School, London and at St. John's College, Oxford before joining the Indian Civil Service in 1911. There he had a distinguished career holding many responsible posts which was rewarded by a knighthood when he left India in 1946. He subsequently joined the Colonial Service and spent two years in Nyasaland before retiring to Chalfont St. Peter where he lived until his death.

Ansorge undoubtedly acquired his interest in insects from his father, Dr W.J. Ansorge, the celebrated explorer and naturalist. Throughout his time in India Ansorge collected nsects, including beetles, extensively (see, for example, ‘On a collection of Carabidae from the Kumaon- Tibetan frontier’ by H.E. Andrewes, Ent.mon.Mag., 62, 1926, 69).

After retirement Ansorge traveled to many parts of Britain, especially to the Scottish Highlands, and made several trips overseas, always collecting where he went. Baron de Worms in his obituary (Proc.Brit.ent.nat.Hist.Soc., 10, 1977, 29-30) described him as 'quite an expert on our Coleoptera' and noted that he had 'made a fine collection’. This is apparently the collection which passed to the Buckinghamshire Museum, Aylesbury and there is also a collection of Lepidoptera from Africa in the Birmingham Museum, presented by Sir George Kenrick.

Ansorge was a member of BENHS and of the RES, and on his death left a bequest to the AES which continues in the form of the Ansorge Award for the best junior exhibit at the annual exhibition. (MD 7.01, 6/18)

ANSORGE, William John 6 April 1850 - 31 October 1913

Well known physician who worked in Angola and Uganda and explored the fauna of the African region, father of Sir Eric Ansorge. The NHM purchased 4 Coleoptera from West Africa from him in 1906.  (MD 8/17)

APPLETON, David Michael b. 28 December 1944

Born in Portsmouth and employed as a clerical officer in the Civil Service. Discovered three beetles new to Britain Bledius crassicollis Bois. and Lacord. Hylis cariniceps (Reitter) (as Hypocoelus cariniceps) and Axinotarsus marginalis (L. de Castelnau) all of which were brought forward by A.A. Allen in Ent. Record. He has also been very successful in adding new species to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight lists as more than twenty notes in EMM  since 1968 testify. Amongst the more interesting of his discoveries have been Pterostichus aterimus (Herbst) ' Stichoglossa semirufa Er. (the second British record), Zyras haworthi (Steph.), Eucnemis capucina Ahr., Corymbites castaneus (L) and Phytonomus meles (F).

Appleton's collection was once large though unevenly distributed, some families being scarcely represented. Many specimens have been passed to friends and others so that what he now retains is a reference collection of single specimens housed in two or three store boxes. His interest has been in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight alone, and he is now in the process of making a card index of his material for the three vice counties (I.O.W., N and S Hants). He has added many further species to the Hampshire list which have not yet been published.

Member of the British Entomological and Natural History Society and of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Naturalist's Trust. He lives at in  Southampton, Hants. (Information from DMA before the Biographical Dictionary was moved to the web).