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
WATSON, A.O.C. J.Rennie (1914) mentions that Watson carried out an enquiry into the beetles of the Aberdeen district having begun to arrange the museum collections in Spring 1909 ‘and in a very short time become an ardent collector himself... Up to date 379 species and varieties have been found within the area... 37 are recorded of which only single examples have been found in the district.’ (p.4). (MD 12/04)
WATKINS, Charles James c.1847 – 1907

Published 'Some inmates of a decayed cherry-tree', Ent., 27, 1894, 284-287. Gave a collection of insects including Coleoptera (specially from Gloucester) to Bristol Museum. Atty (1983, iii-iv) records that Watkins was a good hymenopterist and contributor to V.R.Perkins Gloucestershire list of Coleoptera. He also notes that his collection in Bristol Museum is without data. FESL 1900-1907. (MD 12/04, 8/17)

WATERTON, Charles 1782 – 1865 This is the author of Wanderings in South America (1825, and many later editions) and the series of Essays on Natural History (1838-1871). The collections of his now at Wakefield Museum (formerly at Stonyhurst College) include 70 beetles collected by himself. (MD 12/04)
WATERHOUSE. George Robert 6 March 1810 – 21 January 1888 Born in Somers Town the son of James Edward Waterhouse, a Solicitor’s Clerk and keen entomologist. Commenced his career as an architect but pursued natural history and particularly entomology as a hobby no doubt as a result of the influence of his father. He is mentioned frequently by Stephens (1828) and when the ESL started in 1833 he was appointed the first curator. There is some debate as to who exactly was responsible for founding the ESL but in Proc.ESL, 1888, p.lxxvi, C.O.Waterhouse attributed it to an idea put forward in his own home by his father. He quotes from one of his father’s notebooks: ‘Full of the idea, I went to Mr Hope next day... and told him, and he immediately communicated with some leading entomologists. A meeting was called at the Thatched House Tavern, St. James’s Street, soon afterwards (May 22nd, 1833), and I was elected Honorary Curator.’ Finding curatorship to his liking, Waterhouse appears to have given up architecture in 1835 in order to accept the position of Curator to the Museum of the Royal Institute at Liverpool, a post which he held for only a few months before he moved back to London as Curator of the ZSL. By the Spring of the following year he had completed a Catalogue of the Mammals, which was not published until 1838, because of debate over the system of classification which he had used. This is interesting because Darwin had entrusted to him many of the mammals and insects he had collected on the Beagle voyage and which Waterhouse subsequently wrote up. These publications included six articles on his beetles published 1838-45.(see Darwin, C.) In 1851 he succeeded Konig as Keeper of the Mineralogical branch of the Natural History Department at the British Museum. This department included fossils and one of his publications in this role included Archaeopteryx which he had found when inspecting fossil collections on a visit to Germany. Of Waterhouse’s 117 or so scientific publications (many illustrated by himself) 60 notes and articles and 2 catalogues concerned Coleoptera. The Catalogue of British Coleoptera, 1858 (a separate version printed on one side only for labelling collections also printed) and a Pocket Catalogue of British Coleoptera, 1861, were particularly useful in that they sorted out some of the synonymies in Stephens’ earlier works. His first note ‘Monographia Notiophilon Angliae’ appeared in Ent.Mag., 1, 1833, pp.202-211, and his last, on two new species of British Aleochara, in Trans.ESL., 2, Proc. 1864, p.10. He was wide ranging in his interests writing on many families from the Carabids to the weevils and described new species from all over the world. The sudden cessation of his publishing activities on beetles appears to be due to the huge amount of work in which he was involved in the design and building of the new museum at South Kensington (Alfred Waterhouse, the architect, was not a relative as far as I know) and the subsequent moving of the collections there. This caused him considerable anxiety and led to his resignation in 1880. There are some drawings of insects by Waterhouse in ‘Templeton’s’ scrapbook in the RESL library (Pedersen (2002) p.46. FESL (President 1849-50. Hon.FLSL. FZS (Vice President 1862-63). (MD 12/04)
WATERHOUSE, Frederick Herschel 4 October 1845 – 12 March 1920 Middle of the three sons of George Robert Waterhouse. He joined the ZSL as Librarian on 1 February 1872 and remained in this post until the end of 1912. His major work was the preparation of a new catalogue of the library, which was published in 1902. Like his father and brothers Frederick was also keen on beetles and in 1879 published his only article on this subject: ‘Descriptions of new Coleoptera of Geographical Interest, collected by Charles Darwin, Esq.’ In J.LSL., 14, 1879, pp.530-534. Pedersen (2002) p.64 records that there is correspondence with Herbert Druce dated 29 December 1895 in the RESL. FLS from 1879. (MD 12/04, 11/09)
WATERHOUSE, Edward Alexander 1849 - 2 February 1916 Youngest of the three sons of G.R.Waterhouse. The obituary of his father in EMM., 24, 1888, p.234 mentions that he was at one time Entomological Curator to the Marquis of Ripon, and that is certainly where he lived for much of his life. Mentioned in the Gorham diary at Birmingham and the Janson diary at Cambridge eg. 7 April 1873. There is a letter of 9 September 1908 in the Sharp correspondence at Liverpool, vol.2, p.356. He published 16 notes on beetles in EMM. between 1865 ‘Capture of rare Coleoptera in London’[included Cicindela campestris found in the courtyard of the British Museum] (2, pp. 13-14) and his addition of Adrastus pusillus to the British list in 1888 (25, p.133). His other addition to our list was Quedius brevicornis found in Studley Park and determined for him by Rye (8, 1871, pp. 14-15). (MD 12/04)
WATERHOUSE, Charles Owen 19 June 1843 - 4 February 1917

Eldest of G.R.Waterhouse’s three sons and a godson of Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Owen. Born at Bloomsbury and lived from the age of 9 in his father’s residence in the British Museum. Educated at University College School and King’s College. Joined the staff of the Museum as a Junior Assistant in the Entomological Department on 9 July 1866. Promoted to First-Class Assistant 5 April 1879 and Assistant Keeper 10 April 1905 remaining in office until his retirement on 30 June 1910. He then stayed on at the Museum to complete the re-arrangement of the Buprestidae, including the incorporation of the Kerremans Collection, which he had nearly finished at the time of his death. (More precise details of the families he re-arranged and the dates are given in Waterhouse p.554-555). Waterhouse’s role involved preparing the Museum displays and making models as well as research work on the collections. Published more than 230 papers on Coleoptera, which were his favourite group many describing new genera and species from all over the world. The first, a note of his discovery of a specimen of Hynobius perrisii, recently introduced to England by Rye, in his father’s collection, appeared in EMM., 1, 1864, p.138, and the second, in the same periodical, p. 278, introduced Gonioctena affinis to Britain, found amongst some specimens taken by Mr Cocking of Norfolk. Perhaps his two most important publications were the volumes on Lycidae and Buprestidae (a favourite group) in the Biologia Centrali-Americana series. In later years he became interested in Hymenoptera Mymaridae on which he wrote a number of articles. Of his publications other than those on Coleoptera the best known is the two volume The History of the Collections contained in the Natural History Departments of the British Museum, (1906). There is material related to him in David Sharp’s scrapbook and autograph album in the RESL (Pedersen (2002) p.49) and an obituary in EMM 53, 1917, 67-68 which includes a portrait (opp. p.49). FESL from 1869 (President 1907-08, Vice President 1900, 1909). (MD 12/04, 2/20)

WATERHOUSE FAMILY No other family could surely boast such an intimate involvement with beetles. Five members over three generations were Coleopterists, four by profession, and, through marriage, they were related to the Griesbachs with four more, and the Ryes with two. Mackechnie Jarvis (1976) illustrates a family tree (p.100). Details of each member are included below but I have added this additional note because of the confusion which surrounds the fate of their collections According to Waterhouse p. 599, ‘The types of all the species described’ by Charles Owen went to the NHM together with ‘All the type specimens that were in [George Robert’s]collection before it was broken up’. This has led to the belief not just that there were several British collections but that at least one of them (G.R.’s) was split up and sold off. In fact it would seem, at least in so far as the Coleoptera are concerned, that neither is correct. The splitting up referred to related to the separation of the British material from the foreign, and the sales concerned only books (GR on 2 July 1880) and Lepidoptera (FH and EA 18 April 1916). The main evidence is the presence in the RSM of a large beetle collection occupying one cabinet of 28 drawers with two longer, loose drawers on top (in 1979); two cabinets of 10 drawers each and a further cabinet of 15 drawers, which was acquired by the Museum from the School of Agriculture at Edinburgh University. (The accession number is 1979.086, but this is not the year of acquisition but the number given when I pointed out in that year that it had not been accessioned).. Almost no data labels are included but some specimens are inscribed with numbers and initials under the cards eg. 32.59 GRW. Those specimens which do have labels were clearly acquired from other collectors eg Champion and Bedwell. There are also Griesbach specimens included. Confirmation that this the Waterhouse family collection is provided by the presence of five accompanying ms volumes as follows: Red leather, inscribed on cover Localities CW . Lists collecting trips from 1.10.1855 to 6.66 and, after a long gap in a very shaky hand ‘August 3 1881 went to Felixstowe and Harwich. Could not get lodgings’. Earlier references include ‘6.62 April 26 1862 Wandsworth Common (w.papa)’, ‘Uncle Alex (12.59)’, ‘Ted and F. (5.60)’, ‘Papa and Annie (12xx.60)’, etc.. Red leather, inscribed inside cover G.R.Waterhouse. Includes: p.1: ‘specimens marked with a small yellow label or BM are from the grounds of the British Museum’, then follows list, ‘CP Crystal Palace – soon before the opening day.’ p.11: ‘W Specimens found in the Isle of Wight end of August and beginning of September 1854’. Then follows detailed list of what caught and how. p.12: ‘F specimens from Felixstowe, Suffolk Septr 1852’. From p.13 reverts to dates eg 1.6.55 which was applied to specimens. These continue until 1894. Each expedition was carefully recorded and from 1856 were numbered in each year eg ‘1.1856 went to the Hammersmith Marshes with Dr Power’. Red leather, inscribed on cover E.A.Waterhouse F.H.R. etc.. Lists collecting trips from 1.71 (19 February 1871) to 2.75 (June 1875). Red leather, inscribed Localities 1871. Repeats above to 14.72 only. Includes a set of loose sheets which suggest that a third copy was intended. Vellum, inscribed Edward A. Waterhouse, Fountains Hall. Ripon. April 1867. This lists expeditions and captures from September 1876 – 1914 and includes information about weather, localities, accompanying collectors, etc.. It would seem from the immaculate and very consistent mounting of the specimens that work on the collection may have involved the re-mounting of specimens by successive generations of the family. Hancock and Pettit (1981) record that there are also beetles collected by C.O.Waterhouse at Stonyhurst College. I presume that these are now in Wakefield Museum which acquired other Stonyhurst College material . The NHM houses two ms notebooks kept by Charles Owen,which include Coleoptera records with notes and letters from other entomologists, 1868-1900, and a collection of approximately 200 letters mainly to Charles Owen and George Robert from various entomologists including G.R.Crotch (1870); J.F.Stephens (1839) and J.Walton (1840) . They also have a collection of material associated with George Robert which includes: loose leaf notes on Amycterinae (Curculionidae) annotated by K.G.Blair; three ms leaves List of Coleoptera belonging to la Touche; one ms volume being a Register of his private collection of Coleoptera; 2 ms leaves listing Species of Hister from the collection of Mr Waterhouse, British Museum; and a copy of the his Pocket Catalogue (1861) heavily annotated by J.Power. (Harvey, pp.216-17). (MD 12/04)

He is listed by James,T.J. (2018) as providing a special contribution either in the form of a comprehensive site list or a substantial number of records (MD 1/22)

WARREN, William 1839-1914 His collection of British Lepidoptera and Cerambycidae was sold by Stevens on 12 March 1888 (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p.120). There are 60 boxes of mss in the NHM but Harvey (1996) state that these are mainly concerned with Lepidoptera. FESL 1886-1914. (MD 12/04)