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
WAKELY, Stanley Howard 9 July 1892 – 5 May 1976 Mainly a Lepidopterist but he also interested himself in Coleoptera and Diptera. Born in Newport on the Isle of Wight and became interested in entomology at an early age making the acquaintance of J. Lobb and H.G.Jeffrey who were to become life-long friends. Served in France during the 1914-1918 War with the Coldsteam Guards and on return lived at Tiptree in Essex where he worked as a printer. Later he moved to various parts of south London in the same trade. He was much involved with the SLENHS of which he was a Council member and President (1942). His collection of 15,000 specimens was acquired by Cambridge on 1 May 1972. There are also specimens collected by him in the Gilmour collection at Doncaster. There is an obituary with full bibliography and portrait photograph in Proc.BENHS., 10, 1977, pp.36-39. (MD 12/04)
WALCOT(T), W.H.L. 10 April 1790 – 1869 Published a couple of notes on collecting and preserving Coleoptera in Zool., 1845 and 1858. Lived at Clifton, Bristol. 19 drawers of British and other insects, chiefly Coleoptera and Hymenoptera , collected by Walcot were given to Birmingham Museum (27.ix. 1912) by his granddaughter Miss A.H.Malcolm, who lived in Bath. They are now amalgamated into the general collection. FESL 1862-68. Gilbert (1977) lists an obituary by Edward Newman in Ent., 4, 1869, p.294, which I have not seen. (MD 12/04)
WALKER John James 16 May 1851 – 12 January 1939 Born at Sheerness, the son of James Samuel Walker of the Royal Naval Dockyard there. After his father’s death in 1865 he entered the Dockyard as an engineer apprentice and student. His subsequent career involved promotion to Chief Engineer on 2 April 1888, Staff Engineer on 2 April 1892 and Fleet Engineer on 2 April 1896. During this time he travelled extensively around the world . Following his retirement from the Navy in 1904 he moved to Oxford, where he became a constant visitor to the Hope Department. A series of amusing accounts of Walker’s life at sea and also of his stalwart collecting, by Hugh Scott and Edward Poulton, are included in his obituary (by Poulton) in EMM., 75, 1939, pp.64-70. These include the observation that there were two things in life he could not resist: sharpening pencils and stroking pussy cats. Apart from his interest in Coleoptera, Walker also collected Lepidoptera and was a good botanist (he claimed to have eaten almost every English berry poisonous or otherwise). Walker’s daughter, by his marriage to Angelina Kerry (d.1887), married G.C.Champion, his close friend of 57 years (on their first meeting, see Champion, G.C.) They had three sons all of whom were educated at Oxford so able to keep their grandfather company after the death of his wife. After his retirement from the Navy, Walker was appointed one of the editors of the EMM , in which post he worked in close collaboration with Champion and R.W.Lloyd (he was made Editor-in-Chief from 1927). This appointment co-incided with his move to Oxford where he lived at Summertown, calling his house Aorangi after a favourite mountain in New Zealand visited on his cruises. He was granted an MA honoris causa by Oxford University on 10 August 1905. Walker’s publications on entomology, the majority of which concerned Coleoptera , amounted to some 180 notes and articles. Most are listed in Poulton’s ‘A selected and classified bibliography of J.J.Walker’s publications 1872-1939’ (EMM., 75, 1939, pp.79) Three of the more important were his ‘Preliminary List of Coleoptera observed in the neighbourhood of Oxford 1819-1907’ (Report Ashmolean Natural History Society, 1906, pp.49-10 plus six later supplements; ‘Coleoptera of the Rochester District’ (Rochester nat., 2, 1897-1900, pp.441-650); and the annotated list of the Isle of Sheppey’s fauna in Trans. Ent. Soc. S. Eng., 7, 1931-32, pp.81-140. He also wrote Practical Hints on the Formation of a Collection of Coleoptera (extract from Trans. SE Union of Scientific Societies, 1899, pp.18-35). The species Tachys walkerianus and Helophorus walkeri were named after him by Sharp. According to Poulton, Walker’s collections were bequeathed to the HDO together with any books and printed papers which were wanted. He also states that he left his manuscript diaries and £100 to the RESL; and that the collections he made on his voyages were presented to the NHM, whilst most of his Australian, New Zealand and Mediterranean species were left to his brother-in-law, G.C.Champion, who bequeathed them to the same institution. Poulton also makes special reference to his British beetle collection ‘with the accompanying Catalogue by Hudson Beare and Donisthorpe to which four different marks have been added, indicating whether the series of each species is complete, incomplete, represented by two specimens or by one, absentees being left blank. A glance at these pages at once shows the wonderful results attained by the Commander’s power as a collector...’. The NHM insects are detailed more precisely in Waterhouse p.573: ‘Mr J.J.Walker who from time to time, since 1884, had presented specimens from his collections to the Museum, commenced in 1890 the transmission of the important series obtained by him as Chief Engineer of H.M.S. Penquin (presented by the Lords of the Admiralty), 778 insects of various orders being secured during the voyage between Aden and Australia. In 1891, 3825 Coleoptera were added; in 1892, 3173 Coleoptera; in 1893, 1114 Coleoptera...’ Harvey (1996) p.210 record that the NHM also houses 16 ms leaves listing insect collecting localities from around the world, 15 written from HMS Penquin, c.1890-92 . In regard to the collections at the HDO Smith (1986) p.156 has a detailed account which includes ‘rare Coleopterous insects from Chatham (1897)’ and ‘Collection of British Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, 87 boxes of foreign butterflies, and 42 boxes of Australian and New Zealand Coleoptera, books, separata (1939). Donated much British material while associated with the Department. Statement by Hope Professor in Annual Report: ‘The British Beetles will be kept intact, as he wished, as far as possible’’. In regard to mss, she lists (p.90): a collection of letters to Poulton 1896-1901; 24 notebooks covering the years 1870-1911 containing information about his captures in Great Britain and overseas (the latter places are listed with dates) and a photograph taken on board ship. I have also seen specimens bearing Walker’s name in the Dyson Perrins Collection at Birmingham (from Ashe), general collection at Doncaster, RSM, and at Manchester. In regard to the last Johnson (2004) notes that the collection includes 6,000 duplicates from the Campletown area of Scotland; central and southern England, especially Oxford district, Isle of Sheppey and New Forest. Andy Salisbury tells me that there are also 30 specimens, mainly carabids, in the RHS’s collection and K.C. Lewis that there are specimens in his collection collected by Walker. Michael Cooper informs me that the database of Nottingham Museum includes 493 records of Coleoptera relating to Walker and a few Hemiptera. These last refer to 687 specimens in all of c.290 species from the New Forest, Sheppey, Sheerness, Chatham, Chesil, Deal, Oxford, etc., 1887-1992, mostly recorded as JJW. About half of this material came from the A. Thornley collection. Journals of his voyages in HMS Kingfisher (September 1880-August1884); HMS Grappler (October 1886-April 1889); an unnamed vessel sailing from Port Said to Freemantle, and from Colombo to Northern Australia (n.d.); HMS Ringarooma (Australian journal and observations of natural history, December 1899-July1902) and HMS Penguin (1890-1893) are in the RESL, where there is also correspondence with Herbert Druce (6 January 1895), correspondence with C. Blair including papers concerning his late friend G.C.Champion, and correspondence with C.J. Wainwright (Pedersen (2002)). Tachys walkerianus was named after him by Sharp in 1913 and Helophorus walkeri also by Sharp in 1916 FESL from 1878 (President 1919-20; Vice President 1916, 1921; Secretary 1899, 1905-18; Council 1894,1921, Special Life Fellow 1933). SLNHS from 1880) FLS from1889 (Council 1913-17). Society for British Entomology from 1933 (Vice President 1937). A portrait photograph is included in the obituary cited above. Gilbert (1977) lists nine other obituaries and other notices. (MD 12/04)
WALKER, J.A. This name appears on specimens in the collection of K.C.Lewis. (MD 12/06)
WALKER, Mark d.1984 Lived in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. All round naturalist with a special interest in insects and molluscs. Worked on an M.S.C sponsored schemes at the Hancock Museum, and as a volunteer, and at the time of his death gave various collections of natural history specimens including 1,000 Coleoptera. (Davis and Brewer (1986) pp.154, 260). (MD 12/04)
WALKER, Sir Patrick 1772 – 1838 There is an article in the Edinburgh based Mag.Zoo.Bot., 1, 1836 p.251 on ‘Descriptions of some new species of Exotic Coleoptera from the collection of Sir Patrick Walker’. Walker’s British and foreign insects were sold by Stevens on 7 May 1839 (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p. 84). There is a collection of his in the HDO but this does not include Coleoptera. (MD 12/04)
WALL-ROW, T. Made a collection of British Lepidoptera and Coleoptera which was auctioned at Stevens on 12 March 1918. (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p. 155, but does not mention the Coleoptera). (MD 12/04)
WALLACE, Alfred Russel 8 January 1823 - 6 November 1913 Well known naturalist who proposed a theory of evolution by natural selection independently of Charles Darwin. Born in Usk the third son of Thomas Vere Wallace. Educated at the Grammar School, Hertford, where he became a pupil teacher in 1836-37. Early in 1844 he was appointed English teacher at the Collegiate School in Leicester where he met Henry Bates who interested him in entomology and particularly Coleoptera. Together they planned a collecting trip to the Amazon where they eventually arrived in 1848. Bates remained for 11 years but Wallace returned to England in 1852. Unfortunately, the ship in which he was travelling burned and sank with the loss of all his collections as is graphically described in the account he subsequently published under the title Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro. The only specimens to survive were those which he had previously sent to England. From 1854 to 1862 he travelled through the Malay Peninsula and the East Indies amassing collections of no fewer than 109,700 insects. He wrote of part of this trip: ‘My first crew ran away; two men were lost for a month on a desert island; we were ten times aground on coral reefs; we lost four anchors; our sails were devoured by rats; the small boat was lost astern; we were thirty eight days on the voyage home which should have taken twelve; we were many times short of food and water; we had no compass lamp owing to their not being a drop of oil... and to crown it all, during the whole of our voyage, occupying in all seventy eight days, we had not a single day of fair wind’. This voyage led directly to his writing On the Law which has Regulated the Introduction of New Species and to his sending to Darwin in 1858 the famous essay On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type, which would lead Darwin to write The Origin of Species. He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Dublin and Oxford, and the Order of Merit in 1908. His writing desk was presented to the RESL after his death and is now used by the Chairman at all Council and Committee meetings. Many of Wallace’s entomological publications on his return concerned Lepidoptera, but he did write ‘A Catalogue of the Cetoniidae of the Malayan Archipelago, with Descriptions of the New Species’ in Trans.ESL 4, 1868, pp.519-601. Many foreign Coleoptera collected by Wallace are now in the HDO purchased both directly and through other collections (detailed in Smith (1986) pp.157-58). These include many insects from the Malay Archipelago eg. his complete collections of Melolonthidae, Rutelidae, Trogidae, Aphodiidae, Pselaphidae, Scydmaenidae, Cleridae, Staphylinidae, and other collections of Carabidae, Anthribidae, Brenthidae, etc. The last two alone amounted to 1080 and 605 specimens respectively. The HDO also holds collections of his letters to Westwood 1865-71 and to E,B.Poulton 1886-1913, and other ms material. Further correspondence with Frederick Birch 1900-1906 and with Frederick Godman, Karl Jordan and William Kaye, amongst others, is in the NHM (Harvey,(1996)) The auctions of Wallace’s insects did not include beetles. Corresponding member ESL 1854, and full member 1863 (President 1870-71, Vice President 1864, 1869, Council 1864, 1866, 1869 and 1872). RSL 1893. (MD 12/04)
WALLACE, William Lived at Grimsby. Mentioned by Norman Joy as captor of Longitarsus nigerrimus, new to Britain, by night sweeping at Cleethorpes on 7 Sept. 1907.(EMM., 43, 1908, p.104) There is a typed letter in vol 1 of the Sharp correspondence at Liverpool. (p.164). FESL 1920-29. (MD 12/04, 12/06)
WALLER, Richard Published ‘Observations on the ‘Cicindela volans or flying glowworm’’ in Philos.Trans.RSL., 15, 1684, pp.841-845. (MD 12/04)