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 ascending Dates Biography
TURNER, Charles c.1808 – May 1868 Professional collector who died in great poverty and whose discoveries, principally of saproxylic beetles, are regularly mentioned by Rye in his series of Ent Ann articles on additions to the British fauna. A short account in EMM,5, 1868, p.25 mentions that ‘for some years since he earned a precarious livelihood by gathering moss for the bird stuffers. When engaged in this pursuit he fell in with the late James Foxcroft, who induced him to collect insects.’ This is expanded in Ent., 4, 1868-69, p.107 where he is described as a collector of tact, intelligence, perservering and successful, possessed of a most accurate eye and with the ability to impress a rarity on his memory ‘taking only rough notes (intelligible to himself only) which seemed to guide him aright’. A rather different picture is given by Rye who devoted a couple of pages to him in the Ent.Ann., 1869 (pp.9-10) ‘only those who, like myself, have heard from the inhabitants of the distant localities in which he worked, accounts of his ways and means, and have seen his colossal ravages in situ, can be aware of the hardships and toil he endured in pursuit of these good things. There can be no doubt that he possessed strong determination and perseverance, ability to work very hard under very discouraging circumstances, an extremely quick eye and retentive memory (which enabled him to profit by the instructions of the ‘book learned’ for whom, however, he in unguarded moments expressed a copious contempt), great natural shrewdness, and a power of concealing his innate artful nature beneath an apparent frankness of manner. For, to use the mildest language, his natural mental bias was very distinctly in an oblique direction. But for this, he would have been supported to any extent by his patrons, whom , inspite of repeated condonements, he perpetually again deceived. I suppose it will never be known how many actual specimens of his rarities were taken by himself and his genial partner; but they must certainly have been very much larger in number than is generally believed. And it is sad to think how the contents of many ‘screws’ of his finest New Forest, Scotch and Sherwood beetles are probably now ‘wasting their sweetness and desert air’ of unappreciating possessors, or have been lost or destroyed as valueless... he had at times rudimentary instincts of justice, which impelled him to make good former deficiencies...’. Mackechnie-Jarvis (1976) states that Turner’s discoveries added 12 insects to the British list including Zeugophora turneri which he found in Scotland and which was named after him by Power in 1863, and added 35 others known only by single specimens or being mentioned by early authors as British. Mentioned in Janson diary at Cambridge eg. Dec 1866. There is a portrait photograph in Mackechnie-Jarvis (1976) pl.8. (MD 12/04)
TUPPER, Martin F. Published ‘Beetles’ in Ent.Ann. 1867, pp.165-66.
TUCKER Mentioned by Stephens (1828), p.48. Is this perhaps the same Tucker, of Regent street, London, whose stock of exotic insects was sold by Stevens on 8 December 1848? And who was FESL in 1847 for that year only? (MD 12/04)
TRUEMAN Mr Trueman is mentioned by T.Desvignes in Ent., 1,1840-42, p.189. (MD 12/04)
TOZER, Donald 12 April 1907 – October 1993 specimens in the general collection at Manchester; material from Sherwood is in the general collection at Doncaster Museum; [deleteand] there are 33 specimens from the Midlands in Glasgow Museum (1977-66) and K,C.Lewis tells me that there are sopecimens in his collection. (MD 12/04, 12/06)

Lived in Cheltenham and collected mainly around the town, in 1944-47, especially Carabidae and Staphylinidae. Atty (1983, v-vi) records that many of his specimens are in the Gloucester Museum, and that he published two papers in the Proceedings of the Cotteswold Naturalists' Field Club: 'A list of the Carabidae of Glos.' (1947, 149-158) and The Staphylinidae of Pselaphidae of Glos (1948, 51-62) adding 'These included some notable additions to the county list, though unfortunately the older records of Davis and (and Morse) which he incorporated are faulty in places, being derived from Lifton's manuscript and not from the original authentic sources. His Atheta were checked by Dr Malcolm Cameron but some of the rarer species are not extant in the Gloucester Museum collection and others, like Astenus melanurus, were wrongly named. Other references: Miscellaneous entomological notes: Cotteswold Naturalists' Field Club Proceedings, 1947, 159-60; 'The Coleopterous and Heteropterous fauna of a dry carbon-tip', EMM., 81, 1945, 166-68, and 'Glos. water-beetles' NGNS. Journal, 2, 1951, 10 and 3, 1952, 2.' (MD 8/17)

TOTTENHAM, H.R. Published his rediscovery of Harpalus obscurus on the Devil’s Dyke in EMM., 26, 1890, p.83. He gave his address at the time as St John’s College, Cambridge. A 20 drawer cabinet of insects and a number of store boxes acquired by Cambridge from Mrs M.L.Dacle, Tottenham’s sister, in February 1937, included 11 drawers of Coleoptera collected by him. All data was reported at that time to have been lost. (MD 12/04)
TOTTENHAM, C. E. 22 February 1895 – 30 June 1977 Born at Seldmere, Yorkshire. After acquiring his BA (1917) and MA (1922) he was ordained in the Diocese of Chichester and his early curacies included St John sub Castro and Bexhill on Sea; Coveney, Cambridgeshire; Hanley, Staffordshire; Richmond, Surrey; Rous Lench, Worcestershire; and East Ardsley, Yorkshire. He also lived at Thorpe Bay, Essex where he was Headmaster of Southend Grammar School. He gave up Holy Orders in September 1937, moved to London and then to West Ewell, Surrey, and again to Cambridge where took up another teaching post in 1942 and also became Curator of the Zurich collection at Cambridge University Museum. His interests apart from entomology included music, swimming and philately. Tottenham is best know to British Coleopterists for his volume on Piestinae to Euaesthetinae (1954) in the Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects series. This was part 1 of a proposed two or more volume publication on the British Staphylinidae and he was working on part 2 at the time of his death. He is also known for adding a number of new species to the British list including two which were new t o science: Philonthus jurgans and Gynpeta rubrior. His major work on the Staphylinids, however, was largely confined to African Philonthus, to which he added many new species and sorted out several complications. At the time of his death he was re-organising the NHM’s collections of this genus, which had been arranged in alphabetical order, and he was also working on Peruvian Staphylinidae. A complete list of his publications is appended to his obituary by Horace Last in EMM.,113, 1977, pp.174-75. Last states that Tottenham ‘kept his specimens in small ‘trays’ made by himself and which fitted into the shallow drawers of his home made cabinets. Each tray contained specimens of one species and were edged with differently coloured paper based on his own geographical key, but whole drawers were allocated to one species of British material, often a very common one, with each locality in its little tray with the county or vice-county symbol. These are now in the NHM and Max Barclay provided the following further information about them in March 2003 on the Beetles-BritishIsles web site: ‘From memory Tottenham wrote data underneath the card, two letter vice-county code on top of card, pinned flat on the balsa wood of his home made unit trays... [he] usually wrote data on the first specimen of each series only, and left the remaining members of that series without data. This means that if specimens are moved from their original position in his collection, their data will be lost. Luckily it is in ‘unit trays’ of a sort. For smaller species he used a label, and larger (5mm up) wrote on the underside of the card. His habit of leaving most specimens without data has greatly slowed the incorporation of his collection. A volunteer, Miriam Thomas, has spent many years printing individual data labels and adding them to his specimens. His collection also needs to be re-pinned as he used copper-based cabinet points which have corroded.’ There are also specimens collected by Tottenham in the general collection at Doncaster Museum eg Haliplidae. The Sharp Correspondence at Liverpool (vol. 1.) contains a letter from Tottenham dated 19 April 1923 from 47 Lichfield Street, Hanley. (p.560). (MD 12/04)
TOMLIN, Lilian E. Wife (?) of J.R.le B.Tomlin (see above). Collected 279 Coleoptera in Cheshire, Flintshire and Denbighshire now in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, which she submitted for the Kingsley Memorial Prize of the Chester Society of Natural Science, Literature and Art, 1888. (Hancock and Pettit (1981)). )(MD 12/04)
TOMLIN, John Read Le Brockton 1864 – December 1954 Very little appears to have been written about Tomlin who is probably better known for his work on conchology than on beetles. There is a short and un-informative obituary in Proc.RESL., 19(C)., 1954-55, pp.69-70 but no other of which I know. His first interest appears to have been Lepidoptera which were the subject of his first publication in Ent.16, 1883, p. 162. What follows is mostly taken from some notes kindly given to me by Adrian Amsden. Tomlin did most of his entomological work in Glamorgan whilst a teacher in the Llandaff Cathedral School 1890-99 and it was work done during this period that led to the publication of one of the works for which he is best known amongst Coleopterists: ‘The Coleoptera of Glamorgan’ (in Trans. Cardiff Nat.Soc.). (This followed earlier works on Coleoptera in the Cardiff district in EMM. from 29,1893, and ‘Coleoptera of the Llandaff District’ in Trans.Leics.Lit.Phil.Soc. 5, 1899, pp.187-91) He then moved to Darley Dale where he remained until 1902. He was able to spend more time and money on entomology and conchology after benefiting under the wills of relatives and in 1906 moved to Reading on getting married. In 1922 he moved to St Leonards-on-Sea by which time he seems to have been concentrating almost entirely on conchology, although the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club did publish his Herefordshire Coleoptera from 1949. His main collection of 83,000 specimens is at Cardiff and includes a number of other collections which he either purchased or which were given to him: Phytophaga and Curculionidae of Stephen Barton, mostly from Bristol, part of the collection of Hadfield of Newark, and the Staphylinidae of George Robert Crotch, were all purchased at Stevens in 1899; Amsden’s notes indicate that E.G.Elliman’s Staphylinidae, including many specimens from the Chesham area, were given to him in 1929 but there is a receipt for their purchase for £14 together with a letter in the Museum collection. William Chaney’s collection which included specimens from George C. Champion and that of J.S.White who lived at Droylsdon were both gifts. A few specimens collected by Tomlin are in the D.G.Hall collection at North Hertfordshire Museums (Information from Trevor James). A collection from the Forest of Dean is in the Dyson Perrins collection at Birmingham and there are some specimens in the general collections at Doncaster and Manchester. Hancock and Pettit (1981) mention that there is also a Sicilian collection, 1906-1914, at Manchester acquired either via Hincks, W.D. or Leeds Museum (post war) and that it is accompanied by lists and letters from E.A.Newbery about certain specimens. A ms list (in triplicate) of Beetles taken in Sicily by J.R.le B. Tomlin in March and April 1911 is amongst the Sharp material at Liverpool (D.7.8.19). The Sharp correspondence, vol 1, in the same museum contains 2 letters from Tomlin (p.238). There are photographs of Tomlin collecting with Norman Joy and George Champion in the NMW. FESL from 1897 (Council 1911-13). (MD 12/04)