Charles George Nurse

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Moths collected by Nurse at Aden and in Somaliland

Charles George Nurse (1862 in Barnham – 5 November 1933 in Tunbridge Wells) was an English military officer, naturalist, ornithologist and entomologist. Charles George Nurse was one of many British military officers who made significant contributions to knowledge of the natural history of India. Among his discoveries were a snake, a butterfly, an ant, a neuropteran and about 50 species of moths that he collected were described by G. Hampson and Lord Walsingham. Colonels Cameron and Bingham described 200 species of Hymenoptera from his collections. A species of mosquito that he discovered, Anopheles nursei caused malaria that affected the army campaigns in Mesopotamia.

Life and career[edit]

Charles George was the eldest son of Rev. G.T. Nurse of Barnham and Euston and Mrs F.W. King of Bury St. Edmunds. He went to school at King Edward VI School before joining the Royal Military Academy. A linguist with a sound knowledge of Russian, Hindustani and several Oriental languages he rapidly advanced in his chosen career.

  • 22 January 1881 commissioned into the 89th Foot as a 2nd lieutenant and advanced to lieutenant in July the same year.[1]
  • 1881-1884 Served with the regiment in India as an interpreter and station staff officer, Kolapore.
  • 1884 served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers in the Sudan Expedition seeing action at the battles of El-Teb and Tamai. He served under Gerald Graham and received a medal with clasp and the Khedive's Bronze Star.
  • 27 December 1884 seconded to the Indian Staff Corps.[2]
  • 10 March 1885 promoted to lieutenant while serving in the Bombay Staff Corps.[3]
  • 1890 served with the Zaila Field Force [1] in Somalia. His A Journey in Somaliland was published by the Royal Geographical Society in 1891 and led to his being elected fellow of the society.
  • 22 January 1892 promoted to captain in the Indian Staff Corps.[4] In 1893 he had a fall from his horse resulting in a crack in his skull.[5]
  • January 1901 promoted to major Indian Staff Corps.
  • January 1907 promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the 113th Infantry.[6]
  • 23 January 1909 then commander of the 33rd Punjabi Regiment retired from the Indian Army.
  • 12 May 1915 re-appointed from retirement and attached to the 3rd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in Flanders.[7]

He lived at "Redcote", Rustwick, Rusthall Park after retirement and was a member of the Tunbridge Wells and Counties Clubs. He died of acute pneumonia. He is buried at Rusthall New Cemetery.[5]

Natural history[edit]

Nurse had a lifelong interest in birds and as many naturalists did he collected butterflies and moths. This was reinforced when Sir George Hampson and Lord Walsingham and George Hampson, published On moths collected at Aden and in Somaliland. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 16:257–283, pl. 10 [2] in 1896. This was based on his specimens and species new to science were described. He later widened his interest, to other orders of insects, especially Hymenoptera. At this time Indian Hymenoptera were neglected. Nurse described many new species and added greatly to knowledge of the group. Many Nurse Hymenoptera specimens were described by Charles Thomas Bingham, Peter Cameron (1907. Description of a new genus and some new species of Hymenoptera captured by Lieut.-Col. C.G. Nurse at Deesa, Matheran and Ferozepore. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 17: 1001-10012; 18: 130-1360 and Claude Morley in The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma.


The Nurse collection is in the Natural History Museum, London. "By the will of the late Lieut.-Col. C. G. Nurse, the Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History) have received a bequest of 3,000 Indian insects mostly obtained at Quetta, Deesa and Jubbulpore, where Col. Nurse served with the Indian Army. Col. Nurse was one of the small band of naturalists among military officers who devoted their leisure to the study of entomology, and was an enthusiastic collector of Hymenoptera, forming a large and valuable collection which he presented to the Museum a few years ago. The present bequest comprises the remainder of his Indian insects and includes about 1,450 Diptera (two winged flies), 1,300 butterflies, 130 dragon-flies and some others; of these the most valuable are the Diptera. The collection is especially rich in species of the family Bombyliidae, most of which are parasitic in the larval state on bees or wasps. Col. Nurse discovered and described fourteen species of this family which were new to science, and types of these are in the collection, as well as specimens of a number of other flies which were not previously represented in the Museum. Some interesting butterflies and other insects from Aden are included.’ Recent Acquisitions at the Natural History Museum Nature 133: 323 -323 (3 March 1934)


Charles George Nurse was a member of the Bombay Natural History Society (Managing Committee). He was elected a fellow of the Entomological Society of London in 1895 and a special life fellow in 1932.


A species of snake, Leptotyphlops nursii, is named in his honor.[8]


Partial and intended to illustrate the diversity of Nurse's natural history interests.

  • Nurse, C. G. 1891. A Journey Through Part of Somali-Land, Between Zeila and Bulhar.Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography13 (Issue 11): 657-663
  • Nurse, C. G. 1899. Food of the Indian Grey Shrike. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XII (3): 572
  • Nurse, C. G. 1899. Birds flying against window-panes. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XII(3): 572
  • Nurse, C.G. 1901. Sport and natural history in northern Gujarat. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XIII:337-342
  • Nurse, C.G., 1902. New species of Indian Hymenoptera. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 70 (2): 146-154.
  • Nurse, C. G. 1902. Sandgrouse in northern Gujarat. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XIV(2): 387–388
  • Nurse, C. G. 1902. Occurrence of the Red-breasted Merganser (Merganser serrator) near Quetta.Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XIV(2): 400–401
  • Nurse, C. G. 1902. Unusual abundance of Sandgrouse at Deesa. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XIV(1): 172–173
  • Nurse, C. G. 1902. Merops apiaster breeding in Baluchistan. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XIV(3): 627
  • Nurse, C. G. 1903. The enemies of butterflies. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. XV(2): 349–350
  • Nurse, C. G. 1903. On new Indian aculeate Hymenoptera. Annals and Magazine of Natural History(7)11: 393-403, 511-526, 529-549.
  • Nurse,C. G 1904 .Occurrence of the Common Indian Bee-eater Merops viridis in Baluchistan. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 15 (3): 530–531.
  • Nurse, C.G. 1904. New species of Indian Hymenoptera. Apidae. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 15(4): 557-585.
  • Nurse,C . G. 1906. Food of Monopis rusticella Entomologist 9:160.
  • Nurse, C. G. 1910. Notes regarding the breeding of Cheilosia grossa. Entomologist 43: 313-314.
  • Nurse, C. G. (1922). New and little known Indian Bombyliidae. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 28: 630-41.
  • Nurse, C. G. (1922). New and little known Indian Bombyliidae. Part II. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 28: 883-88.


  1. ^ "London Gazette - Issue 24926. Page 292 (page 12 of 54)". 21 January 1881. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  2. ^ "London Gazette - Issue 25432. Page 186 (page 2 of 48)". 13 January 1885. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  3. ^ "London Gazette - Issue 25629. Page 4739 (page 17 of 60)". 28 September 1886. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  4. ^ "London Gazette - Issue 26268. Page 1515 (page 3 of 76)". 15 March 1892. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Death of Lieut.-Col. C.G. Nurse. Well-known entomologist and soldier". Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser. 10 November 1933. p. 11 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. ^ "London Gazette - Issue 28005. Page 1928 (page 4 of 76)". 19 March 1907. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  7. ^ "London Gazette - Issue 29184. Page 5480 (page 2 of 12)". 4 June 1915. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  8. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Nurse", p. 192).


  • Obit. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, Volume 70 1934
  • D.J. Greathead, 1967 The Bombyliidae (Diptera) of northern Ethiopia Journal of Natural History Volume 1, Issue 2, 1967: 195-284. Describes new species from specimens collected by Nurse.
  • Jivanayakam Cyril Daniel and Baljit Singh Natural History and the Indian Army OUP India
  • Rao, B. R. Subba (1998) History of Entomology in India. Institution of Agricultural Technologists, Bangalore. pp. 29–30