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
BABINGTON, Charles Cardale.C. 23 November 1808-22 July 1895 Born at Ludlow, Shropshire, the son of Joseph Babington (1768-1826), a physician. Educated at Charterhouse and at Cambridge where he obtained B.A.(1830), M.A.(1833) and first became interested in plants, the study of which eventually led him to become Professor of Botany at Cambridge from 1861-1895. Babington’s work on botany also involved him in entomology, and in 1833 he was a founder member of the Entomological Society. It would appear, however, that it was the extensive field work all over Britain (he also visited Iceland in 1846) which he undertook in connection with the publication of his magnum opus the Botanical Manual, (eight editions in the 19th century alone) that really fired his interest in the Coleoptera in particular. By 1860 the Ent.Ann. listed Coleoptera as his only interest but noted that he had stopped collecting, and was 'happy to give information'. Babington was clearly known to Charles Darwin as is clear from a letter in the latter’s published correspondence to W.D.Fox dated 1 April 1829: ‘I have caught Mr Harbour letting Babington have the first pick of the beettles [sic]..’ It is not surprising, therefore, that he should have been chosen to describe some of the beetle species (Dytiscidae) from the ‘Beagle’ voyage. Babington was an enthusiastic Committee man. Whilst at Cambridge he became Secretary of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, a position he held for many years, and in 1830 he joined the Linnean Society. Three years later, on the occasion of the first meeting of the British Association at Cambridge, he was appointed Secretary of the natural history section, and from that time until 1871 he was rarely absent from their annual meetings. From 1853-1861 he acted as President of the section. In 1836 he was one of the founder members of the Ray Club, of which he acted as Secretary for fifty five years, and he was on the Council of the Ray Society. In 1840 he was one of the founders of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, and in 1850 he joined the Cambrian Archaeological Association, serving as Chairman of its committee from 1855 to 1885, He was also a member of many other national and local societies. Babington married Anna Maria the daughter of John Walker on 3 April 1866. There is a portrait of him by William Tizard in St, John's College. The best account is his autobiographical: Memorials, Journal and Botanical Correspondence, Cambridge, 1897; and there are shorter notices in DNB (Supplement), and in Alumni Cantabrigiensis II (1), 1940. (MD 9/01)
Duff (1993), p.3 records that Babington ‘was probably the first resident Somerset coleopterist as he came to live in Bath at the age of 14’. (MD 10/03)
B., C.G. Tony Irwin informs me that there are a number of insects bearing the initials GCB in E.A.Butler’s foreign collection of Coleoptera and Hemiptera at Norwich Museum. (MD 10/03)
AUSTIN, W. 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)
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 EMM, 74, 1938, 42-43. (MD 6/18)

AUBROOK, Edward Wrigley 1 September 1915 – 18 April 1990 There is a full obituary by Colin Johnson, upon whom he was a formative influence, in EMM, 127, 1991, pp.91-95, including a complete bibliography and photograph. The following is extracted from it. 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’ (Nwest.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 becoming FRES in 1946. 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, pp.71-72) and in 1970 ‘Cis dentatus Mell. an addition to the British list’ (ibid, 103, 1970, pp.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. Johnson records 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. Aubrook’s British insect collections, mostly beetles, (over 12,000 specimens) are divided between the museums of Huddersfield and Manchester, and his notebooks and New Zealand collection (6,300 specimens) are 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. The second half of this collection (6000 specimens) is in the Tolson Museum, Ravensknowle, Huddersfield, and there are also some specimens in the York 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)
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 EMM 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 ofr 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 Ent Record, 1996, Coleopterist, 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. (MD 8/17)


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.SLENHS., 1942, p.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)
ATTLEE, Hugh.G. Published a note on 'Strangalia aurulenta P. in Devonshire' in EMM, 41, 1905, p.69 and a further note on 'Amara anthobia Villa in the London district', 42, 1906, p.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 correspodence 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 ERJV, 19, 1907, p.94 on ‘Coleoptera in Wales in 1906’.’ (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, pp.85 and 238, recording the capture of Tetropium castansum 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.Waionwright (1909-1912) in the RES. He was FRES in 1886 and a Special Life Follow in 1930. There are obituary notices in EJRV., 42, 1931, p.160 (by H.J.Turner), Proc.ESL, 1931, p.130, and the Lynn News and County Press, 14 October 1930 (MD 7.01, 3-03)
ATKINSON, John Published an article ‘On Coleopterous insects discovered among linen envelop- ing the body of a mummy from Thebes’ in Trans.LSL., 14, 1825, pp.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 Zoologist, 11 1843, pp.272-5 and a volume of Sketches in Natural History, with an essay on Reason and Instincts, London, 1861. (MD 7.01)