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
ATKINSON, Edwin Felix Thomas 6 September 1840 - 15 September 1890

Born in Tipperary. Passed entrance examination for the Indian Civil Service in 1862. Held many important posts including Financial Secretary to the Indian Government. Between 1874-79 published a Gazetteer of the North East Provinces and was also the author of works on Indian law and kindred subjects. He was appointed President of the Board of Trustees of the Indian Museum, and was responsible for starting the publication of Indian Museum Notes, which dealt largely with economic entomology a subject in which he interested himself, and did a good deal of early work. Much of Atkinson's serious entomological research was on the Hemiptera-Heteroptera, but he also interested himself in beetles.

Horn & Kahle (1935-7) notice that a collection of Cicindelidae made by Atkinson passed via 0. Thieme to P. Richter and thence to W. Horn, and that another collection of Elateridae passed to Godman and Salyin via E.W.Janson. This latter collection was subsequently acquired by the NHM which also acquired a part of the remainder of Atkinson's beetle collection, what was left being sold through Standinger and Bang-Haas. It is worth noticing that Chalmers-Hunt (1976) records the sale of Indian insects belonging to Atkinson which may have included beetles by Stevens at auction on 2 December 1895.

Atkinson's published work on Coleoptera appears to have been confined to the first twelve parts of the ‘Catalogue of the Insects of the Oriental Region (Coleoptera)’ published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1889-1891.

He died at Calcutta. Gilbert (1977) lists eight obituary notices. There are many references to his collecting activities in the FBI series (eg. G.J.Arrow, Lucanidae Passalidae, 1950, 50,53,58,72, etc.) Atkinson is said to have been related to Col. Swinhoe, the Coleopterist. (MD 7.01)


Published an article ‘On Coleopterous insects discovered among linen envelop- ing the body of a mummy from Thebes’ in Trans.Linn.Soc.Lond., 14, 1825, 585-6. This is probably the same Atkinson who was elected a member of the first ESL on 6 December 1808.

There is a manuscript account of an unidentified fossil animal from the Yorkshire coalfield, by John Atkinson and George Edwards, dated 1825, in the Royal College of Surgeons, and he published on the 'Ephemerae' in Zool, 11, 1843, 272-5 and a volume of Sketches in Natural History, with an essay on Reason and Instincts, London, 1861. (MD 7.01)

ATMORE, Edward A. 1855-1931

A pharmacist by profession, Atmore was born in Kings Lynn and lived there all his life. He had a considerable knowledge of all orders but was particularly interested in the Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera of which he had extensive local collections. He also donated specimens to the Museum at Kings Lynn. Atmore published various articles in the Trans. of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Soc. of which he was made an Honorary Life Member shortly before his death, and two notices in the EMM, 40, 1904, 85 and 238, recording the capture of Tetropium castaneum L. and Odontaous mobilicornis P. near Kings Lynn. It is worth noticing that on p.86 of this issue E.A.Newbery records that Atmore sent him beetles for naming.

There is correspondence with C.J. Wainwright (1909-1912) in the RES. He was FRES in 1886 and a Special Life Follow in 1930. There are obituary notices in Entomologist's Rec.J.Var., 42, 1931, p.160 (by H.J.Turner), Proc.Ent.Soc.Lond., 1931, p.130, and the Lynn News and County Press, 14 October 1930 (MD 7.01, 3-03)


Published a note on 'Strangalia aurulenta P. in Devonshire' in Ent.mon.Mag., 41, 1905, 69, and a further note on 'Amara anthobia Villa in the London district', 42, 1906, 13. Immediately after the War he moved to St. Leonards and published on Odonata in Ent. The late Mrs Morgan wrote to me about Attlee as follows: ‘When I was preparing my paper on the Coleoptera of Merioneth... I was sent some correspondence between Attlee and P.M.Miles of Aberystwyth. The former was then living at 4 Combermere Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea and the last norte is dated 28.1.60 (on postcard). His collecting in W.Merioneth was 1904-1919 but the individual records are not dated and localities are not specified for all species. Colin Johnson had a look over the list and was prepared to accept the records. He says in a letter to me ‘He was obviously pretty good at finding things’. Incidentally Attlee’s name was mis-spelt as ‘Attle’ on a paper in Entomologit's Rec.J.Var., 19, 1907, 94 on ‘Coleoptera in Wales in 1906’.’ (MD 7.01)

ATTWOOD, R.W. d. 20 July 1941

Had an extensive knowledge of the Lepidoptera and took up Coleoptera in his later years, eventually amassing fine representative collection of both these orders. He was particularly associated with the SLENHS which he joined in 1931 and on the Council of which he served from 1941. S. Wakely, in an obituary in Proc.Trans.S.Lond.ent.nsat.Hist.Soc., 1942, 43, noticed that he was a regular exhibitor at meetings and that the field trips he led to South Benfleet, where his parents lived, were especially memorable occasions’. It was while leading a field meeting at Oxshott that he suffered a heart attack and died, L.G.Payne recording: ‘he just lay down and went to sleep in the woods amongst the creatures he loved so well’. (MD 7.01)

ATTY, David Brian b. 18 January 1930

Educated at Wigan Grammar School and Oxford University, and made his career in the Civil Service (GCHQ). Moved to Cheltenham in December 1955, living at Benhill on the S.W. edge of the town in 1960-71 and then nearer the centre in Lansdown. He remained in Gloucestershire until 1988 when he retired to Embleton in Cumberland.

Before moving north Atty published various notes and articles in the Ent.mon.Mag. including: 'Lathridius bifasciatus (Reitter) in Surrey' (91, 1955, 237); 'Lyctus brunneus (Stephens) etc. in Lancashire' (96, 1960, 239); 'Harmonia quadripunctata (Pont.) in Gloucestershire' (97, 1961, 152); 'Nudobius lentus (Grav,) in Gloucestershire' and 'Lathridius bifasciatus (Reitter) etc. in Gloucestershire' (100, 1964, 93 and 192); 'The beetle occupants of a tussock, (103, 1967, 184, recorded a remarkable 1244 beetles of 101 species); 'The foodplants of Cassida viridis Lot.' and 'Gloucestershire beetles: a few records and an appeal, (105, 1969, 24 and 199); 'A further locality for Epiphanis cornutus Esch., 'Trichius fasciatus L, in Gloucestershire' and 'Coleoptera of Gloucestershire' (118, 1982, 161,162 and 174).

By 1983 he had accumulated 25,000 records for 1610 species of which some 250 were additions to the county list, and he wrote and self-published The Coleoptera of Gloucestershire, 136 pp., (lists 2049 species with a single sheet update in 1986 listing a further 30 or so species mostly collected by Keith Alexander and John Owen). Following his move to Cumberland his collecting and research there led to his publishing A Checklist of Cumbrian Beetles in April 2015 (Carlisle Natural History Society) which incorporated material previously published in Entomologist's Rec.J.Var., 1996, Col., 2009 and Carlisle Natural History Society Journal, 2010.

In 1982 Atty informed me that he had a small personal collection, and a large reference collection. The latter, housed in 30 drawers and 7 boxes was given to him in 1970 by E.G. Neal and H.K. Airy Shaw (mainly Gloucestershire), and included a comprehensive collection of British species which originally belonged to G.S. Kloet, and their notebooks.

There are 12 pages of correspondence with Colin Johnson in MUNHM (Box 14) dated 1993-96.

Member of the Balfour Browne Club 1983.

(MD 8/17, 1/22)


AUBROOK, Edward Wrigley 1 September 1915 – 18 April 1990

Born in Oldham and educated at Hulme Grammar School which he left at the age of 16. Acquired his interest in insects at the age of ten and joined the Oldham Natural History Society in his youth. His first job was in the carpet department at Ryland’s Warehouse, Manchester. In his lunch hours he visited the Manchester Museum where he befriended Harry Britten who became an important influence on him. Joined the Manchester Entomological Society in 1932 and was a regular exhibitor at meetings. Britten obtained for him the job of Laboratory assistant in the University in 1934, the year in which he published his first article ‘Water beetles under Ice’ (N.west.Nat., 26, 1934, 55) and he found an unusual beetle at a chrysanthemum show in Manchester, subsequently named after him by Horace Donishtorpe: Micrambe aubrooki.

When Joseph Collins, a friend of Britten’s, retired from the Hope Department at Oxford in 1935, Aubrook was appointed to succeed him as a junior assistant, and he left Manchester in October. He remained there until 1939 when, after a brief period as Assistant Curator at Paisley Museum, he joined the Tolson Memorial Museum, Huddersfield, where he was to remain for the rest of his working life, being appointed Director in 1946.

After the war he started collecting beetles again and as a member of the Yorkshire Naturalists Union from 1959 he led field meetings, gave talks and acted as Coleoptera Recorder. In 1968 he published (with Johnson) ‘Oxypoda nigricornis Mots. new to Britain’ (Ent., 101, 1968, 71-72) and in 1970 ‘Cis dentatus Mell. an addition to the British list’ (ibid, 103, 1970, 250-51). In all Aubrook’s publications amounted to 39 in total. During the 1960s and 70s Aubrook was a regular member of survey teams working on insect recording in Scotland and, after his daughter moved to New Zealand in 1968, he visited her six times making many insect collections there too. These included the Ptiliid Notoptenidium aubrooki which Johnson named after him.

Colin Johnson, upon whom he was a formative influence, in a full obituary in Ent.mon.Mag., 127, 1991, 91-95, from which much of this account is taken (includes a complete bibliography and photograph) recorded that Aubrook was a determined Coleopterist, particularly in regard to difficult groups, and that they enjoyed more than fifty days in the field, including trips to Scotland and to East Anglia.

Johnson informed me that Aubrook’s British insect collections, mostly beetles (over 12,000 specimens) were divided between Huddersfield and Manchester, and his notebooks and New Zealand collection (6,300 specimens) are also in the Manchester Museum. Johnson (2004) records that the collection includes that of F. Hawkin and duplicates from J.H. Flint and E.J. Pearce. He also notes that most families are represented and that the main collecting localities were Yorkshire; Rhum, Inverpolly, Speyside and Deeside. Other collections are in the Tolson Museum, Ravensknowle, Huddersfield (6 000 specimens) and Adam Parker has pointed out to me that Simms (1968) records a collection of 10,000 beetles, mainly Yorkshire, partly incorporated into the 'Central Reference Collection', in the Yorkshire Museum. Simon Hayhow informs me that there is also material bearing his name in the collection at Oldham Museum.

FRES 1946 until death. (MD 7/01, 12/21)

AUSTEN, Edward Ernest 1867 - 16 January 1938

Primarily known as a Dipterist and Hymenopterist but 295 Coleoptera collected by him during the expedition to the River Amazon and the Cape Verde Islands on board the  S.S.'Faraday' 13 December 1895 - 14 April 1896 were acquired by the NHM in 1896 and 126 Coleoptera were among the insects from Sierra Leone the NHM acquired from him in 1899. There is an obituary by K.G. Blair in Ent.mon.Mag., 74, 1938, 42-43. (MD 6/18)


Coleoptera from Scotland bearing this name and the date 1875 are in the collection of C.G. Hall at Oldham Museum. (Information from S. Hayhow) (MD 7.01)

B., C.G.

Tony Irwin informs me that there are a number of insects bearing the initials C.G.B. in E.A. Butler’s foreign collection of Coleoptera and Hemiptera at Norwich Museum. (MD 10/03)