Francis Walker (entomologist)

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Francis Walker. Note the Brewster stereoscopic viewer.

Francis Walker (31 July 1809 – 5 October 1874) was an English entomologist. He was one of the most prolific authors in entomology, and stirred controversy during his later life as his publications resulted in a huge number of junior synonyms.

Walker was contracted by the British Museum between June 1848 and late 1873 to catalogue their insects (except Coleoptera). He was born in Southgate, England on 31 July 1809 and died at Wanstead, England on 5 October 1874. Walker added an immense amount of material to the collections of the British Museum and wrote over 300 scientific papers and notes. He is best known for his catalogues of Orthoptera, Neuroptera, Homoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera. Collaborating with Alexander Henry Haliday, a lifelong friend, he was one of the first students of the Chalcidoidea. He was also a close friend of John Curtis. Walker was a Fellow of the Entomological Society. Walker's specimens are in the Natural History Museum, London, Hope Department of Entomology, University of Oxford, The National Museum of Ireland, Dublin Zoologische Staatssammlung München and the School of Medicine, Cairo, Egypt.

Family and childhood[edit]

Francis Walker was the son of John Walker of Arnos Grove a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Linnean Society and the Royal Horticultural Society.Born into a wealthy and highly educated family Francis spent the years 1816 (when he was seven years old) to 1820 (when he was eleven) in Switzerland at Geneva, Lucerne and Vevey where the family party was joined by Madame de Staël, the poet Lord Byron and some Swiss naturalists gathered around Nicolas Théodore de Saussure. With his brother Henry (1825–1892), Francis collected butterflies on an ascent of Mount Pilatus in 1818 and so was an entomologist at age nine. In 1840 Walker married Mary Elizabeth Ford.

"Occupation"[edit]

In 1834 Walker took up the editorship of the Entomological Magazine for one year and unpaid and in 1837 he began working on a contract basis for the British Museum where he remained until 1863. He lived at Arnos Grove and relied on family money for his main income.

Traveller and Alpinist[edit]

Isola Pescatori, Lake Maggiore by Josiah Wood Whymper

Walker was a traveller with a liking for mountains. His known trips are

Major works[edit]

Different views of Walker[edit]

Walker is notable in the present time for the large number of synonymous taxa he described. A careless taxonomist by today's standards, he often gave more than one name to the same species. In this respect, however, he was no worse than many entomologists of that time; what makes for the more common occurrence of Walker's taxa in synonymy is the sheer volume of this scientist's work.

An unsigned obituary [by J. T. Carrington] in the Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (1874, 11: 140–141) began 'More than twenty years too late for his scientific reputation, and after having done an amount of injury almost inconceivable in its immensity, Francis Walker has passed from among us', Edward Newman (1874, Entomologist, 7: 260–264), in contrast described him as the 'most voluminous and most industrious writer on Entomology this country has ever produced' and said of him 'I never met anyone who possessed more correct, more diversified, or more general information, or who imparted that information to others with greater readiness and kindness'.

Kenneth G.V. Smith (Smith, K. G. V. 1987. Darwin's insects: Charles Darwin's entomological notes, with an introduction and comments by Kenneth G. V. Smith. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Historical Series. Vol. 14(1): 1-143) says this '[h]is Catalogues of Insects in the British Museum Collections' will always stand as a tribute to his industry. Walker (1836) also described the Diptera from Captain P. P. King's collection made on the first surveying voyage of Adventure and Beagle.Fortunately, many of his descriptions of Darwin's insects will endure because they were of little known groups from little worked regions and most of his types are still in the British Museum (Natural History). For a recent balanced account of this remarkable man see Graham, M. W. R. de V. 1979. "Ambulator": Francis Walker, English Entomologist (1809–1874). Entomologist's Gazette 30: 7–20.

Publication list[edit]

Caricature of Francis Walker by A. G. Butler (1890)
  • 1833. Monographia chalcidum (continued from page 384). Ent Mag 1(5): 455-466.
  • 1834. Monographia chalciditum (continued from p. 39). Ent Mag 2(2): 148-179.
  • 1834. Monographia chalciditum (continued from p. 309). Ent Mag 2(4): 340-369.
  • 1835. Characters of some undescribed New Holland Diptera. Ent Mag 2(5): 468-473.
  • 1835. Monographia chalciditum (continued from p. 369). Ent Mag 2(5): 476-502.
  • 1835. Monographia chalciditum (continued from Vol. II., page 502.). Ent Mag 3(1): 94-97.
  • 1836. Monographia chalciditum (continued). Ent Mag 3(5): 465-496.
  • 1838. Descriptions of British chalcidites. Ann Mag Nat Hist (1)1(4): 307-312.
  • 1838. Descriptions of British chalcidites. [continuation from p. 312] Ann Mag Nat Hist (1)1(5): 381-387.
  • 1839. Monographia Chalciditum. Volume 1. Balliere, London. 333 pp.
  • 1839. Monographia Chalciditum. Volume 2. Balliere, London. 100 pp.
  • 1843. Description des Chalcidites trouv饳 au bluff de Saint-Jean, dans la Floride orientale; par MM. E. Doubleday et R. Forster. Premier m魯ire. Ann Soc Ent Fr (2)1: 145-162.[verification needed]
  • 1846. Characters of some undescribed species of chalcidites. (Continued from p. 115). Ann Mag Nat Hist (1)17(111): 177-185.
  • 1846. Part I—Chalcidites. Pp. 1–100 In: List of the specimens of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Printed by order of the Trustees, London. vi + 237 pp.
  • 1849. List of the specimens of dipterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part II. Printed by order of the Trustees [British Museum], London. 231-484 pp.
  • 1849. List of the specimens of dipterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part III. Printed by order of the Trustees [British Museum], London. 485-687 pp.
  • 1849. List of the specimens of dipterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part IV. Printed by order of the Trustees [British Museum], London. 689-1172 pp.
  • 1850. Descriptions of aphides. (Continued from vol. v. p. 395). Ann Mag Nat Hist (2)6(31): 41-48.
  • 1851. List of the specimens of homopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part II. British Museum, London. 1188 pp.
  • 1852. Diptera. Part I. Pp. 1–75 In: Insecta Saundersiana: or characters of undescribed species in the collection of William Wilson Saunders, Esq., F.R.S., F.L.S., &c. Vol. I. John Van Voorst, London. 474 pp.
  • 1852. List of the specimens of homopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part IV. British Museum, London. 1188 pp.
  • 1853. Catalogue of the specimens of neuropterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part II. - Sialides-Nemopterides. British Museum, London. 193-476 pp.
  • 1853. Catalogue of the specimens of neuropterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part III. - (Termitidae-Ephemeridae). British Museum, London. 477-585 pp.
  • 1855. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part V. Lepidoptera Heterocera. British Museum (Natural History), London. 977-1257 pp.
  • 1856. Diptera. Part V. Pp. 415–474 In: Insecta Saundersiana: or characters of undescribed species in the collection of William Wilson Saunders, Esq., F.R.S., F.L.S., &c. Vol. I. John Van Voorst, London. 474 pp.
  • 1856. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part X.--Noctuidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. 253-491 pp.
  • 1856. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part IX.--Noctuidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. 1-252 pp.
  • 1856. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VIII.–-Sphingidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. 1–271 pp.
  • 1857. Catalogue of the dipterous insects collected at Singapore and Malacca by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with descriptions of new species. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 1: 4-39.
  • 1857. Catalogue of the dipterous insects collected at Sarawak, Borneo by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with descriptions of new species. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 1: 105-136.
  • 1857: Catalogue of the homopterous insects collected at Sarawak, Borneo, by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with description of new species. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 1: 141-175.
  • 1857. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XIII.--Noctuidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. 983-1236 pp.
  • 1858. Characters of some apparently undescribed Ceylon insects. Ann Mag Nat Hist (3)2(9): 202-209.
  • 1858. Characters of some apparently undescribed Ceylon insects. (Continued from p. 209). Ann Mag Nat Hist (3)2(10): 280-286.
  • 1858. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XIV.--Noctuidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. .
  • 1858. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XV.--Noctuidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. 1521-1888 pp.
  • 1858. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XVI.--Deltoides. British Museum (Natural History), London. 1-253 pp.
  • 1858. Characters of undescribed Diptera in the collection of W.W. Saunders, Esq., F.R.S., &c. Trans Ent Soc Lond (2)4(6): 190-235.
  • 1859. Characters of some apparently undescribed Ceylon insects. (Continued from p. 56). Ann Mag Nat Hist (3)3(16): 258-265.
  • 1859. Catalogue of dipterous insects collected in the Aru Islands by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with descriptions of new species. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 3: 77-131.
  • 1859. Catalogue of the dipterous insects collected at Makessar in Celebes by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with descriptions of new species. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 4: 90-172.
  • 1859. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XVII.--Pyralides. British Museum (Natural History), London. 255-508 pp.
  • 1859. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XIX.--Pyralides. British Museum (Natural History), London. 799-1036 pp.
  • 1860 Characters of some apparently undescribed Ceylon insects. Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Volume: 5, Series 3, Pages: 304-311 full text
  • 1861. Catalogue of the dipterous insects collected at Amboyna by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with descriptions of new species. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 5: 144-168.
  • 1861. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXII.--Geometrites (continued). British Museum (Natural History), London. 499-755.
  • 1861. List of the specimens of Lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XVIII.--Geometrites. British Museum (Natural History), London. 757-1020 pp.
  • 1862. Catalogue of the heterocerous lepidopterous insects collected at Sarawak, in Borneo, by Mr. A.R. Wallace, with descriptions of new species. (Continued from page 145). J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 6: 171-198.
  • 1863. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXVII. Crambites & Tortricites. British Museum (Natural History), London. 1-286 pp.
  • 1863. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXVIII. Tortricites & Tineites. British Museum (Natural History), London. 287-561 pp.
  • 1864. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXIX. Tineites. British Museum (Natural History), London. 533-835 pp.
  • 1864. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXX. Tineites. British Museum (Natural History), London. 837-1096 pp.
  • 1865. Descriptions of new species of the dipterous insects of New Guinea. J Linn Soc Lond Zool 8: 102-130.
  • 1865. Descriptions of new species of the dipterous insects of New Guinea. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 8: 102-130.
  • 1865. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXXII. Supplement.--Part 2. British Museum (Natural History), London. 323-706 pp.
  • 1866. List of the specimens of lepidopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part XXXIV. Supplement.--Part 4. British Museum (Natural History), London. 1121-1533 pp.
  • 1866. Appendix. A list of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, fishes, shells, annelides, and Diatomaceae, collected by myself in British Columbia and Vancouver Island, with notes on their habits. [List of Coleoptera]. Pp. 309–334 In: John Keast Lord. The naturalist in Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Richard Bentley, London. 375 pp.
  • 1868. Catalogue of the specimens of Blattariae in the collection of the British Museum. Printed for the Trustees of the British Museum, London. 239 pp.
  • 1869. Catalogue of the specimens of Dermaptera saltatoria and supplement to the Blattariae in the collection of the British Museum [Part I.] British Museum, London. 1-224 pp.
  • 1869. Catalogue of the specimens of Dermaptera saltatoria in the collection of the British Museum. Part II. [Locustidae (contd.).] British Museum, London. 225-423 pp.
  • 1870. Catalogue of the specimens of Dermaptera saltatoria in the collection of the British Museum. Part III. [Locustidae (contd.), Acrididae.] British Museum, London. 425-604 pp.
  • 1871. Notes on Chalcidiae. Part I. Eurytomidae. E.W. Janson, London. 1-17 pp.
  • 1872. Catalogue of the specimens of heteropterous Hemiptera in the collection of the British Museum. 5. Printed for the Trustees of the British Museum, London. 1-202 pp.

References[edit]

  • Stearn, William T. (1981): The Natural History Museum at South Kensington. Heinemann, London ISBN 0-434-73600-7
  • Papavero, N. and Ibáñez-Bernal, S. 2001. Contributions to a history of Mexican dipterology. Part 1. Entomologists and their works before the Biologia Centrali-Americana. Acta Zoologica Mexicana (n.s.) 84: 65–173. biography, work on Mexican Diptera.

External links[edit]

  • Plates from Insecta Britannica Diptera
  • Internet Archive has digitised versions of Insecta Britannica Diptera (all 3 published volumes) and List of the ... homopterous Insects in the ... Museum (1852) Volume 4; List of the specimens of the hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British museum .. (1846–48) pt. I. Chalcidites.--pt. II. Chalcidites. Additional species and Catalogue of the specimens of neuropterous insects in the collection of the British museum .. (1852–53) pt. I. Phryganides. Perlides.--pt. II. Sialid. Nemopterides.--pt. III. Termitid. Ephemerid.--pt. IV. Odonata

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