Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher

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Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher
Born(1878-03-25)25 March 1878
Stonehouse (Plymouth), Devon, England
Died(1950-04-30)30 April 1950
Known forList of Publications On Indian Entomology and a Catalogue of Indian Insects
SpouseEsme Violet Hollingbery
AwardsFellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal Entomological Society, and the Zoological Society of London
Scientific career
InstitutionsRoyal Navy, Indian Agricultural Research Institute

Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher (25 March 1878 – 30 April 1950[1]) was an English entomologist. Although an amateur lepidopterist who worked in the Royal Navy, he became an expert on "microlepidoptera" and was appointed as the second Imperial Entomologist in India to succeed Harold Maxwell Lefroy. Although only an amateur entomologist, he is credited with reorganizing entomological research in India by coordinating and directing research, efficient sharing of findings and a reduction in duplication of research work.

Fletcher (seated at centre) at the fifth entomological meeting at Pusa in 1923

Fletcher's father William Bainbrigge Fletcher was a fleet surgeon in the Royal Navy (retired 1890).[2][3] Thomas became a naval paymaster until he retired in 1915.[4] While in the navy, he joined the Percy Sladen Trust Expedition to the Indian Ocean and was appointed Imperial Entomologist in India, succeeding Harold Maxwell-Lefroy at the Imperial Agricultural Research Institute at Pusa. Although lacking academic qualifications in entomology, he was a meticulous naturalist and very careful on matters of systematics and taxonomic nomenclature. His work as head of entomological research in India was initially on identifying work that had already been done and that which was ongoing. By conducting meetings of researchers he ensured that duplication was avoided.

At the third entomological meeting in 1919 he made a call for a boycott of German tools and a call to ignore German publications from 1914 citing a practice called for by Sir George Hampson.[5]

He produced a List of Publications On Indian Entomology and a Catalogue of Indian Insects. He also worked out the life-histories of many moth species in the families Gelechidae, Cosmopterygidae, Neopseutidae and Tortricidae and produced A List of Generic Names used for Microlepidoptera (1929). He also wrote several more general works on entomology including Some South Indian Insects (1914), Tentative Keys to the Orders and families of Indian insects (1926), A Veterinary Entomology for India and Hints On Collecting and Preserving Insects. His knowledge of classical Greek, Latin and French and a popular style of writing also allowed him to write for lay audiences. His book Birds of an Indian Garden with Charles M. Inglis was meant for non-specialist readers.[6] Fletcher was a fellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal Entomological Society, Zoological Society of London and a president[7] of the Cotteswold Naturalists' Field Club. He married Esme Violet Hollingbery at Saidpur, Uttar Pradesh, on 17 February 1917. His wife left India and was hospitalized in London for many years and in 1947, he suffered from a stroke that left him partly paralysed on the right side. He donated the bulk of Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire to the National Trust in 1937 (after the National Trust declined an earlier offer in 1935).[8][9] In 1949 he filed for bankruptcy[10] but his assets were valued at £4762, enough to pay off his debts of £1119.[11]

His position as Imperial Entomologist was succeeded by Hem Singh Pruthi.

To any in search of a distraction or a hobby, either to fill an idle hour to provide a welcome change of thought and occupation, the study of Entomology may well be commended. Insects are always with us, by day and by night, in the bungalow, at the office or in camp, and the field for observation of life-histories and habits, even of the commonest species, is absolutely boundless. If this book lends aid to any whose tastes lie in this direction, its aim will have been achieved. Gratus certe labor, quo scientiae nitor magnopere augetur.

— Preface to Some South Indian Insects

Species named after him include:



  1. ^ "Biographies of the Entomologists of the World".
  2. ^ "Naval Appointments". Exeter and Plymouth Gazette. 10 September 1890. p. 3 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ "The London Society of Derbyshiremen". Derybyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald. 8 December 1900. p. 2 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ London Gazette, 16 November 1915
  5. ^ Fletcher, T. Bainbrigge (1920). Report of the proceedings of the third entomological meeting : held at Pusa on the 3rd to 15th February 1919. Govt. of India. p. 10.
  6. ^ Sen, SK (1952). Obituary: Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher. Indian Journal of Entomology. 14:87-90.
  7. ^ "Cheltenham Lecture". Cheltenham Chronicle. 28 March 1942. p. 6 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ "Offer Declined. Rodborough Common and National Trust". Gloucestershire Echo. 15 May 1935. p. 8 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "Common for Nation. Rodborough Appeal Succeeds". Gloucestershire Echo. 14 January 1937. p. 5 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ "Bankrupt had bad luck". Gloucester Citizen. 6 December 1949. p. 2 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ "Bankruptcy fear dispelled". Western Daily Press. 11 October 1949. p. 1 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ Scott, Hugh (1914). "On some Oriental Nycteribiidæ [Diptera Pupipara]". Journal of Natural History. Ser. 8. 14 (81): 217. doi:10.1080/00222931408693567.

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