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
ATKINSON, David Jackson June 1897 - 27 March 1952

Born at Knaresborough, Yorkshire. Studied Forestry at Oxford and spent a year working under Lefroy. Posted as Forest Officer, later Forest Entomologist and Conservator of Forests, Burma. In 1942 he controlled the civil evacuation of Burma via the Upper Chindwin and Manipur, and was then appointed Chief Conser- vator of Forests, Burma, a post he held until 1946. On retirement he joined the staff of the Commonwealth Institute of Entomology and specialised in timber beetles, particularly the Scolytidae. He died while working in the NHM. His few publications included ‘Ips (Tomicus) erosus in Britain', Ent.mon.Mag., 57, 1921, 253-4. There is an obituary notice in Proc.R.Ent.Soc.,(C), 1952-53, 71. (MD 7.01)


Fowler (1912) notices that a Reverend Assmuth collected Paussidae in India near Bombay. (MD 7.01)


Published 'Deformed head of a fossil Plateumaris sericea L.' in Ent.mon.Mag.,108, 1972, 65. At the time of writing this he was attached to the University of Birmingham but moved subsequently to Faculty of Science, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (MD 8/17)


Published 'Odontaeus armiger (Scop.) in Berkshire', in Ent.mon.Mag.,  97, 1961, 286. At this time his address was 86, Tachbrook Street, London, S.W.6. He has also published on Lepidoptera.  (MD 6/18)

ASHE, George Hamilton 14 December 1879 - 29 June 1961

Born at Stavely in Ulverston the son of the Reverend Henry Ashe of that parish. Attended St. Bees School, Cumberland and won a Classical Exhibition to St. John's College, Cambridge. Subsequently switched to the sciences, and on leaving Cambridge took up teaching. Taught at schools at Stevenage, Saffron Walden and Hartlebury before retiring in 1939 to live at Colyton. Married Joanna Vawdrey, daughter of Reverend D. Vawdrey of Areley Kings, Worcestershire.

A.A.Allen in his obituary of Ashe in Ent.mon.Mag., 1962, 110, notices that it was while he was at Hartlebury that ‘we first hear of him collecting, with enthusiasm and great success, the beetles of the district ... Here in the course of years he captured many rarities and species quite new to that part of England, and it is to be regretted that (as far as we know) he published no list of his finds in the area... He quickly made friends among the many collectors of the period, and some of those who stayed with him for the purpose of sampling the local beetle fauna were Sir Thos. Hudson Beare, Prof G.W.Nicholson, and Messers Bedwell, Bowhill, Daltry, Donisthorpe, Harwood, and Stott. It was here that he made his first addition to the British list in the shape of the tiny Histerid Acritus atomarius Aube.’

‘At Colyton, where he naturally had more leisure to devote to his favourite hobby, he continued to collect with no less energy and success, and from then on contributed frequent notes and lists of his more interesting finds to the EMM. He was, we believe, engaged for some years on a comprehensive Devon list, but unhappily did not live to complete this desirable project. He became especially keen on the difficult small Staphylinids (Atheta, etc.) - so badly neglected by the ordinary run of collectors - and here his sharp eye and patient perseverance stood him in very good stead; he would, for instance, work minutely through sack after sack of flood refuse from the River Coly in search of some desired Atheta and nearly always succeed in his quest in the end. A. alpina Benick and Oxypoda planipennis Thoms. both new to Britain [the latter from Nethy Bridge, where he spent many summer holidays] are among his best finds in this group. His most spectacular discovery was no doubt the addition to our fauna of the large weevil Hylobius transversovittatus Gze.; but no less important was his separation (in 1946-7) of Cantharis cryptica Ashe ... from C. pallida Gze, ... It was he who put Moccas Park, Hereford ‘on the map’ as a haunt of rare species (though not-the first to collect there), of which he took quite a series over a number of visits; one of them Trixagus brevicollis Bonv. was new to Britain, and he afterwards found it also at Shute Park, Colyton.’

Ashe bequeathed his collection to Torquay Museum, and I have seen other beetles collected by him in the Birmingham Museum (Dyson Perrins); Doncaster Museum (ex. coll. E.M.Eustace) and Manchester Museum. Trevor James informs me that there also specimens collected by him in the D.G. Hall collection at Baldock Museum and K.C.Lewis has Ashe specimens in his collection. Duff (1993), 7, records that A.A. Allen has some of Ashe's duplicates. He gave 7 beetles from Devon and Inverness to the NHM in four gifts February and March 1947 (MD 7/01, 10/03, 12/06, 6/18, 1/22)

ASHDOWN, W.J. 1855 - 9 November 1919

Lived at Leatherhead in Surrey. He was chiefly interested in Coleoptera but also collected Lepidoptera and Hemiptera. Joined the in 1895 and bequeathed his collections to that Society along with the Natural History section of his extensive library. His annotated copy of Curtis’s, British Beetles, 1863, however, is in the RES Library. At the time of his death he was a member of the Council of the Society and Recorder of Attendances at meetings. Ashdown occupied most of his time collecting in the Leatherhead area but spent his holidays in Switzerland and France, and collected on those occasions too. He published two articles about Coleoptera in Ent.mon.Mag. in 1895 and 1897, but thereafter appears to have confined his publishing to notes of field meetings, etc., in Proc.Trans.S.Lond.ent.nat.Hist.Soc. A specimen of Sphaerites mutilatus was given to NHM by him in 1918 (Register, 1, 1914-22) There are brief obituaries in Ent.mon.Mag., 56, 1920, 17, and in Proc.Trans.S.Lond.Ent.nat.Hist,Soc., 1919-20, 34-5. (MD 7.01)

ASHBY, Sidney Robert May 1864 - 18 September 1944

Born in Paddington, London. Worked for a few years in a solicitor's office before joining the Post Office in 1883 where he remained until his retirement in 1924. Died at his house in Harrow.

Charles Mackechnie Jarvis, who received his early instruction in the Coleoptera from Ashby and who acquired part of Ashby's collection of British beetles, notices in his obituary of him in Proc.Trans.S.Lond.ent.nat.Hist., 1944-45, xxv-xxvii: ‘Ashby was primarily a Coleopterist and studied the British fauna throughout his 64 active collecting years. In earlier days, from 1880 to about 1910, he took Lepidoptera also and built up a representative collection, but found that the time required for attending to his breeding cages prejudiced the study of other orders. Preferring to break new ground, he took up the study of the Hemiptera under the expert guidance of [William] West, and at the same time paid attention in the field to several of the lesser known orders as well.’

‘In addition to his extensive British collections, he amassed some 150 store boxes of foreign Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and 'Other Orders', all of which he carefully arranged and for the most named. Perhaps it was his early training in the solicitor's office which caused him to develop his elaborate system of colour coding and indexing by which his specimens were recorded. The card index relating to his favourite Order, the British Coleoptera, is particularly comprehensive and gives full details of capture and references to the relevant literature...’

‘Having always lived in the London district with access to good libraries Ashby kept few books. He was undoubtedly a field entomologist at heart and felt no urge to write for publication, although in earlier years he had corresponded widely with entomologists interested in Coleoptera and Hemiptera’.

‘Methodical to an extraordinary degree, his passion for cataloguing everything connected with insects (and much besides) is reflected in the contents of some fifty loose leaf binders...’

Ashby was also a very active member of the South London which he joined in 1895 and was for many years Curator of the Society's collections. MacKechnie Jarvis records that Ashby's own collection of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera from Britain ‘in two 40 drawer Brady cabinets’, and also his collection of British Hemiptera and miscellaneous other Orders ‘with the relevant card-indexes, and unworked material together with a selection of the foreign Coleoptera’ was retained by himself, while Ashby's collection of foreign Lepidoptera and Coleoptera in some 120 store boxes was dispersed. A further collection of some British Hymenoptera and Diptera passed to E.E.Syms. I have seen beetles Collected by Ashby in the Hudson Beare collection at the RSM, and in the collection of Doncaster Museum.

FRES from 1907 to death. There are other obituaries in Ent.mon.Mag., 80, 1944, 264 and Proc.R.Ent.Soc., (C)9, 1944-45, 47. (MD 7.01)


He is listed by James (2018) as providing a special contribution and there are 2 pages of correspondence with Colin Johnson in MUNHM (Box 14) dated 1990. (MD 1/22) 


He is listed by James (2018) as providing a special contribution. (MD 1/22)


Published detailed notes on the biology and ecology of Dolopius marginatus L. in Ent.mon.Mag., 81, 1945, 205-212, 274, and 62, 1946, 1-4. At that time he was attached to University College, Cathays Park, Cardiff. Also published on other groups in South Wales. By 1951 gave his address as Juniper Hall, Mickleham, Surrey. (MD 8/17)