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
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)
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)
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, J.A. This name appears on specimens in the collection of K.C.Lewis. (MD 12/06)
WALKER, Francis 31 July 1809 - October 1874

Well known as the describer of many thousands of new species of insects other than Coleoptera in the collection of the Natural  History Museum, London. He was not a Coleopterist but did publish several papers on beetles: Characters of two undescribed British Coleoptera, Ent. Mag., 4, 1836, 83; Tachinus bipustulatus, Ptinus crenatus, Cryptophagus cellaris [Julus terrestris?], Ent., 1, 1841, 128;  Note on the larva of Cis boleti Newman, Zool. 1, 1843, 116; Notes on species of Haltica, Zool. 4, 1846, 1239; Characters of some apparently undescribed Ceylon Insects, Ann.Mag. Nat. Hist., 2, 1858, 202-209, 280-286; 3, 1859, 50-56, 258-265; 4, 1859, 217-224, 370-376; 6, 1860, 357-360; Leistus montanus, Ent. Weeekly Intelligencer, 6, 1859, 190; List of Coileoptera collected by J.K.Lord., Esq., in Egypt, Arabia and the near African shore of the Red Sea. With characters of undescribed species, 1871, 1-19, E.W.Janson. Many other generalised publications may also include notes on Coleoptera.

Of the Coleoptera publications (440 new species described) those devoted to the beetles of Ceylon were the most important. But they came in for great criticism (as did so many of his other new species) from H.W.Bates in particular: 'The diagnoses attached to the names are no better than a haphazard collection of the words so far as their use is concerned in the determining the species, and their references in so many cases to well-known genera is generally ridiculously wrong and pure guesswork. Under these circumstances I consider Walker's names as entitled to no more auhority than those of a catalogue' (On the Geodephagous Coleoptera collected by Gorge Lewis in Ceylon, Ann . Mag. Nat. Hist. 5(17), 199-214.) Evenhuis (see below) lists three sources of information about types in adfdition to the Bates' papers already listed: Olliff, A.S. Notes on certain Ceylonese Coleoptera (Clavicornia) described by the late Mr Franis Walker, Proc. Linn. Soc. of New Souith Wales, 10, 1886, 69-72; Blair, K.G., Types of Heteromera described by F. Walker now in the British Museum, Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond., 1921, 268-283; and Thomas, D.B., Smith, A.D., Triplehorn, C.A. & Aalbu, R.A., Walker's Eleodes, Zootaxa, 3835 (4), 2014, 583-592.

All of the above is taken from  N.L. Evenhuis, The Life and Work of Francis Walker 1809-1874, in Fly Times (Supplement 2), 27 September 2018, 1-100. I am grateful to Max Barclay for bringing this publication to my attention. (MD 12/20)


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)
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)
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)
WAKELY, L. This name appears on specimens in the collection of K.C.Lewis.. (MD 12/06)
WAKEFIELD, Harry Rowland 1861 – 19480 Founder of the Swansea Field Naturalist’s Society in June 1906. His eldest daughter Elsie was Chief Mycologist at Kew for many years. Wakefield was an all-round naturalist but in his fifties turned principally to Coleoptera collecting mainly in Wales and particularly Breconshire on which he published a paper ‘Breconshire Coleoptera’ Proc. Swansea Fld nat Soc. (Information from John Bratton). His collection of some 10,000 specimens was donated by his daughters to Swansea Museum in 1951 (but not fully accessioned until 1985). According to Fenscore ‘in the Museum register, the collector of the specimens is listed as J.R.leB Tomlin, but this contradicts details given in the paper ‘Breconshire Coleoptera’. The collector intended to produce a survey of beetle life in Breconshire comparabke to that carried out for Glamorgan by Tomlin... the beetles were collected during several excursions made into the county by the Swansea Scientific and Field Naturalists Society and during short holidays spent by the collector at some considerable distance from one another. Whilst the collection does contain specimens from Tomlin, it also contains material collected by Wakefield’s other associates as listed in the introduction to his paper, the only other major associated collector apart from Tomlin was Mr J.Williams Vaughan of Erwood.’ (MD 12/04)