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
ARCHER, Francis 17 June 1839 - 29 February 1892

Educated at Liverpool Collegiate Institute and Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained a degree with honours in 1862. Admitted to Liverpool firm of Bateson and Robinson, solicitors, in 1865 and subsequently became a partner, before becoming attracted to journalism and politics when he gave up the law. He became sub-editor of the Liverpool Daily Post but found this 'too exacting and absorbing' and went back to the law in partnership with Isham Gill. The firm was later called Gill, Archer and Maples. He was President of the Liverpool Law Society, 1890-91.

T. Mellard Reade, Archer's friend for twenty years, recorded in his obituary (Naturalist, 201, 1892, 113-6) that Archer was a ‘many-sided man of great vigour’. His interests included Tennyson, much of which he knew off by heart; civil engineering works in Liverpool; writing reviews on scientific works for the Daily Post, and natural history. The last included entomology, particularly Coleoptera and Lepidoptera. Later in life, Archer became very interested in anthropology and travelled to the Valley of the Somme, and to Ireland and the West of England in pursuit of material.

Sharpe (1908) lists Archer as among those ‘students and collectors of the Coleoptera, belonging perhaps to a somewhat different social order [ie. not artisans], who have now passed away but to whose labours we owe much information and many records’. He also notes that Archer, who lived at Crosby, contributed a short note on the Coleoptera of the district to the ‘Liverpool Naturalists Scrapbook’, a manuscript volume having a limited and brief circulation among Liverpool naturalists, which was not printed. The more important of these records were subsequently published by J.W. Ellis in Liverpool Coleoptera, 1889 (but compiled by 1880). He also wrote two articles in Zool, 22, 1864: 'Cicindela maritima and C. Hybrida’ and a ‘List of Coleoptera taken in the Liverpool district during 1862 and 1863’.

Some beetles collected by Archer abroad are in the H.W. Ellis collection at Liverpool Museum, and some letters survive in the correspondence of George C. Hyndman (1854-62) in the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society.

He was a member of the Liverpool Geological Society, the Liverpool Biological Society (taking an active part in establishing the station on Puffin Island), the Lancashire and Cheshire Entomological Society and the RES. Besides the obituary already mentioned, which includes a portrait, there are further obituaries in Ent., 25, 1892, 100; Ent.mon.Mag., 28, 1892,12 (by S.J.Capper) and Entomologist's rec.J.Var., 3, 1892, 80. (MD 7/01)

ARCHER, Thomas Croxen 1817 - 19 February 1885

Began his professional career as a clerk in the Customs Office at Liverpool when he collected, arranged and named all the specimens of the imports into Liverpool for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Subsequently took to lecturing in local institutions and educational establishments and became a Professor in the Liverpool Institution. In June 1860 he was appointed Superintendent of the Technological Museum in Edinburgh and from January 1866 Director. During his directorship he did much to shape the appearance of this institution now famous as the Royal Scottish Museum. In 1876 he travelled to the USA as joint Executive Commissioner of the Phildaelphia Centennial Exhibition. He was a FRS (Edinburgh).

Archer published various papers on natural history subjects including one on beetles entitled 'On the ravages of Scolytus destructor. Cossus ligniperdus, and other insects on forest trees' in Transactions Botanical Society of Edinburgh, 8, 1866, 4-20).

There is an account of Archer in the Graphic, 13, 1876, 542, which also includes a portrait (p.552) and an obituary in the Athenaeum, 28 February 1885, 283. (MD 8/17)


Collected beetles in the Gold Coast acquired by the NHM in July 1924. (MD 8/17)

ARMITAGE, Edward 20 May 1817 - 24 May 1896

One of the most successful history painters of the second half of the last century. Eldest son of James Armitage of Leeds. Educated in England, France and Germany. After deciding to become a painter studied under Delaroche in Paris from 1837. Competed successfully in the competitions for the decoration of the new Palace of Westminster and was subsequently asked to execute the two frescoes on the walls of the upper waiting hall of the House of Lords. After studying for twelve months in Rome submitted first picture at the Royal Academy in 1848. Continued to exhibit there until his death. Elected ARA in 1867 and in 1875 was appointed a Professor. The DNB notes: 'Always of independent means Armitage was able to follow his ideals in art without regard to fashion or profit'.

Besides painting, Armitage was also interested in sailing and collecting beetles. The EMM noticed: ‘In none of the numerous notices [of Armitage] has any allusion been made to his entomological proclivities... well known to many that he possessed a considerable collection of exotic coleoptera and was one of the oldest members of the Entomological Society ... never lost interest either in the subject or the Society’ (32,1896,164) They also notice that he did not publish anything, but he did write one article (with J.O.Westwood) entitled ‘Note on a species of Oeketicus’ (Trans.ent.Soc.Lond., (3) 2 Proc. 1865,103-4).

According to Horn & Kahle (1935-8) Armitage's collections were divided up as follows ‘Coleop l896 to H.S.Gorham. Exotic Coleop auct. Stevens 27 Sept 1910. Cicindelid. to F. Bates and then British Museum (Nat. Hist.). Malacoderm and M. Pic. Byrrid, Parmid. Melmid. Heterocerid. via A. Grouvelle to Mus. Nat. Hist., Paris. Lycid. Clerid. and rest Pal. Coleop. part via A. Ford to T.G. Bishop. Coccinell. Cassid. Endomychid. Erotylid. Cetoniid. via O.E. Janson to J.E. Black. Rutelid. via F. Bates, via B.G. Nevinson to BMNH. Bupestrid, 1903 to C.H. Schill. Chrysomelid. to F.C. Bowditch’. .One collection formed by Armitage is now in the RSM. The NHM had earlier been the recipient of several gifts of beetles from South Africa, Italy and Greece directly from Armitage.

Besides the obituaries noticed by Gilbert (1977) there are accounts in The Art Journal, 1863, 177-80; Illustrated London News, 9 March 1867, 238-9, (Portrait p.224); Men of the Time, 1891 and DNB.

Note: Armitage exhibited a painting at the Royal Academy in 1878 titled 'After an Entomological Sale, beati possidentes' in which he represented himself in a sale room rejoicing over a fresh acquisition for his collection 'in company with his friends Calderon, Hodgson, Winkfield, and others'. Allingham (1924) believed that the sale was that of Edwin Brown's collection and that 'the picture is not quite true to life, for they [the characters depicted] were drawn, not from the actual bidders, but from the artists and his friends, P.H. Calderon and others'. The present whereabouts of the picture are unknown, but an engraving is illustrated in Salmon, M.A.(2000). (MD 7/01, 6/18)

ARMITAGE, J. There are Coleoptera bearing this name in the collection at Oldham Museum (Information from S.Hayhow) (MD 7.01)

Naturalist, friend and companion of Thomas Wollaston on the voyage to Porto Santo and the Desertas. Wollaston dedicated Aleochara armitagei in homage to him and Cleonus armitagei for discovering the species. (Information from Mike Morris). (MD 8/17)



Published the capture of Rhopalomesites tardyi, Curtis at Bardsea in Lancashire in Ent.mon.Mag., 46, 1910, 16. At that time he lived at 74 Leigh Street, Warrington. (MD 7/01)


76 coleoptera from various countries collected by himself and others together with other insects were part of the Imperial Bureau of Entomology gifts to the NHM in 1921, 1926 and 1935. (MD 8/17)



The NHM purchased 864 beetles from various localities from Mrs Arnold in 1935. (MD 8/17)

ARROW, Gilbert John 20 December 1873 - 5 October 1948

Son of John Garner Arrow of Streatham. Entered an architectural office, but after five years moved to the NHM in 1896. Although he officially retired on 20 December 1938, by which time he was Deputy Keeper of the Entomological Department, he continued to work at the Museum, in spite of eye trouble in later years, almost daily until his death. In recognition of his work on systematic entomology during this period the Trustees bestowed upon him 'Honorary Associateship’ of the Museum. Arrow married Rachel Katharine Davis and lived at 9 Rossdale Road, Putney. His hobbies were music, photography and gardening.

Although in later life Arrow interested himself in the Neuroptera, most of his work was on beetles. M.E. Bacchus, ‘A Catalogue of the Type Specimens of the Cetoniinae described by G.J.Arrow’ in Bull.B.Mus.nat.Hist.,MNH, Entomology, 31(2), 1974, 23-44 notices that he described about 1,800 species in 24 families ‘mostly from material in the Museum collection’. Bacchus also includes a complete bibliography of his entomological publications which date from 1899 to 1951 and amount to 210 items. Most are on the Scarabaeoidea. His major works were undoubtedly the four volumes in the FBI series: Lamellicornia: Cetoniinae, Dynastinae (1910); Rutelinae, Desmonycinae, Euchirinae (1917); Coprinae (1931) and Lucanidae, Passalidae (1950); a paper 'On Sound Production in the Lamellicorn Beetles' in Trans.ent.Soc.Lond., 1904 (iv), 709-750; and his book Horned Beetles (1951). Apart from these works on the Scarabs he also published accounts of the Endomychidae and Erotylidae of Sumatra (1927) and Indo China (1928), and a revision of the African Languridae (1929). Riley (1964) records an interesting anecdote of Arrow whom he describes as ‘a rather short compact figure and a prodigious worker ... As an entomologist Arrow was in one way possibly unique: he did no collecting, for he could not bring himself to kill anything, even a beetle’.

Harvey record correspondence in the Janson Family archive in the NHM., and there is a letter to G.C. Champion dated 13 May 1927 in the RES (Pedersen (2002), 73. Gilbert (1977) lists several references and obituaries, though it should be noted that the seven page article by Horn is, in fact, a notice of Arrow's retirement covering only a few lines; for 76 read 70. There are also Arrow's own brief notes in Who's Who and Who was Who. FRES 1899 until his death, and on Council 1905-07. (MD 7.01, 11.09)