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

Gave 37 beetles from Belgium to the BMNH in 1965 and in the following year 1332 from Portugal collected with M. Bacchus. (MD 8/17)


143 coleoptera collected by Abraham from various localities were part of the Imperial Bureau of Entomology gifts to the BMNH in October 1920 and November 1922. MD (8/17)

ABBOT, John 31 May or 1 June 1751 - Dec 1840 or Jan 1841

Although known primarily as an American entomologist Abbot was born in Bennet Street, St. James, London the eldest son of James Abbot and Ann Clousinger, before moving to North America in July 1773. Many biographies (28 listed in Gilbert 1977) record the important role he played there in the establishment of entomology as a serious science. In a manuscript autobiography in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Abbot gives an account of his early life in England: 'my peculiar liking for Insects was long before I was acquainted with any method of keeping them father had a Country House at Turnham Green ... and I remember breeding some there ... In one of my Walks after insects I met with a Mr Van Dest the famous flower painter, he invited me to come & see him, he had been a small collector, showed me a pattern of the large Net, & gave me some rare insects. I got me immediately a Net made & begun to understand keeping them better. My Father got a Mr Boneau [Jacob Bonneau (1741-1786)], an engraver, & Drawing Master, to give me some lessons of Drawing at our own house, he was acquainted with a Mr Rice a Teacher of Grammar, who had likewise been a collector of Insects, Br Boneau ... praised my Drawings of Insects, & got me through Mr Rice introduced to Mr Drury who had been President of the Linnean Society & who then allowed to have the best Collection of Insects both English & Foreign of any one. I leave you to judge my pleasure and astonishment at the sight of his Cabinets the first I had ever seen of the kind he very politely offered to lend me some insects to draw, & we immediately became well acquainted. That hour may be said to have given me a new turn to my future life. I had immediately a Mahogany Cabinet made of 26 Draws, covered with sliding tops of Glass, it cost me 6 Guineas, & began to collect with increasing industry I met soon after & purchased a parcel of beautiful insects from Surinam ...'

            It is not clear whether the insects referred to included beetles but some of Abbot's illustrations certainly did (see, for example, a stag beetle reproduced in A. Mallis, American Entomologists, 1971, 5). Many of his drawings were sent to his friends in England and there are 19 volumes of water-colour paintings of the insects and plants of Georgia in the BMNH, and other paintings in the BM. Other drawings are listed in G.D.R.Brison, V.C.Phillips & A.P.Harvey, Natural History Manuscript Resources in the British Isles, 1980. and there is a list of the American holdings together with a short account of his life in America on Wikipedia.

            Abbot's collections were dispersed. Some are known to have passed to his friend J. Francillon and others to A.H.Norvich, others were lost at sea. There are specimens in the BMNH, the National Museum of Science and Art, Dublin, and the Kolonial und Ubersee Museum, Bremen. (MD 8.17)