Excellent as always. I am sure many readers await your next instalment. Possibly the lack of actual replies is because we all read and learn something new. Very few of us will have heard of Richard Weaver or what he discovered. Many will not know much more than the name of many more famous collectors from long ago, and your articles are an educational treat for us all, along with the photos of museum specimens, illustrations etc which you kindly provide.
Richard Weaver's first visited Scotland to collect insects in 1839 and then went there nearly every year, until his last visit in 1854. His most ambitious collecting tours were in 1842 & 1844. In June 1842 Weaver sailed from Liverpool to Greenock and then proceeded to Fort William, ascending Britain's highest mountain Ben Nevis, where he collected two specimens of the rare blue ground beetle, Leistus montanus. He left Fort William for Loch Ness, then he caught the steam packet boat to Inverness, and went by Coach to Dingwall in Ross-shire, and ascended Ben Wyvis. Travelling on to Inver on the west coast of Sutherland, he captured among others, fine specimens of the local moorland moths, Syngrapha interrogationis of the Plusiinae family and the Geometer Gnophos obfuscata. In August, Weaver returned southwards to visit the Isle of Arran.
While Weaver was collecting at Inveraray in Argyll during 1842, he captured a new Tortricid moth for which James Charles Dale proposed the name of Antithesia weaverana but which was later determined as Antithesia dimidiana Treitschke 1845, a synonym of Hedya atropunctana Zetterstedt, 1839. When alive this is an attractive species with a lovely pink tinge on the forewings, it is very local and mainly a northern species of wet heaths and mosses.
In 1844 Weaver visited Kinloch Rannoch in Perthshire for the first time and found it such a rich collecting locality that in successive years he stayed in this area. The hamlet of Kinloch Rannoch is situated at the head of Loch Rannoch and is surrounded by high moors and mountains. Birch woodlands are a feature of the lower moors and to the south of the loch there is the Black Wood of Rannoch, a remnant of the great Caledonian Pine forest with Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and a thick understory of juniper, bilberry and heather. Exploring the Black Wood in 1844 Weaver took a single male of a dragonfly that was new to Britain, which he first referred to as Cordulia alpestris Sélys, 1840. When he took both sexes of the same dragonfly in the Black Wood during 1847, his captures were determined as the closely related Cordulia arctica Zetterstedt, 1840, which is now placed in the genus Somatochlora ; this uncommon dragonfly has a bluish-green sheen and green eyes which unfortunately fades in museum specimens.
Cordulia arctica (The Northern Emerald). Rannoch, Weaver. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Weaver wrote to J.C. Dale from Rannoch on June 23, 1846 regarding the capture of a number of rare moorland and montane moths. " Sir I beg to say, I am glad to say, that I can send word of the capture of some rare and beautiful insects, which I could not in my last letter. I have taken Anarta (* Coranarta) cordigera which has been rare this season, Acronicta (*cinerea) euphorbiae and (*Hyppa) rectilinea. The Silvery Arches (*Polia hepatica) was just coming out, I have taken one moth that I think is the Great Brocade, (*Eurois occulta) and which I have had a wish for 20 years, I saw that at Mr Curtis' and a dart that I do not know and albocrenata ." The moth albocrenata is a form of Electrophaes corylata that is found in Scotland. * The names in italics are mine and are the current scientific names.
The moths that Weaver mentioned that he had collected at Rannoch are from the family Noctuidae except the last species E. corylata which is from the family Geometridae, sub family Larentiinae. All are nocturnal except the pretty C. cordigera, which is a rare species that flies at speed about the high moorland in the day time. In the same letter Weaver informed Dale of his collecting nocturnal activities in the mountains " I go out after seven in the evening and go a good distance to a fresh spot and return back in the morning by daylight, after the lark and other birds have given their morning song, I rise up again by six to set my captures, feed my caterpillars I have collected on the hills at night, I have had good sport".
Weaver mentioned that in his letter to Dale dated June 23, 1846 that Henry Doubleday had written to him that honeydew had spoilt his sugaring. In 1841 the distinguished entomologist Henry Doubleday of Epping in Essex had invented the collecting method of sugaring, brushing a mixture of sugar and other sweet ingredients upon the trunks of trees to attract moths. Weaver informed Dale he had packed up box of insects to send to Henry Doubleday and that he was using the new method of sugaring to capture moths, and he stated, he was collecting the larvae by night with his lamp, he finishes his letter to Dale " P. S. since writing the above the rain has come on and likely a lot, last night I had just finished sugaring a good lot of trees for a whole nights sport, and there came on a thunder shower, that gave me a good wetting, I was glad to make my way home but without any game, it had spoilt my sport".
Coranarta cordigera (Small Dark Yellow Underwing). Rannoch. Dale coll. OUMNH.
Hyppa rectilinea (The Saxon). Rannoch. Dale coll. OUMNH.
During the 1846 collecting season at Rannoch, Weaver added two new noctuids to the British list. Henry Doubleday in the Zoologist for 1847 described one of these as a species new to Science, Hadena assimilis. This was almost certainly the moth that Weaver refers to as a dart in his letter to Dale, mentioned above. Much later it was realized that Weaver's moth, H. assimilis was a subspecies of Apamea exulis Lefebvre, 1836 which in Britain was also known from the Shetland Islands, the population there belonging to subspecies Apamea exulis marmoratae Zetterstedt, 1840 which is also found in Scandinavia. Apamea exulis assimilis is an endemic and rare subspecies that is very local in the highlands of Scotland. The other new noctuid found by Weaver was Acronicta cinerea Hufnagel, 1766 which he found at rest on rocks on the open moors. This species occurs locally on moorland in northern and central Scotland and in western Ireland.
The first British specimen of Apamea exulis assimilis (Northern Arches). Rannoch, Perthshire, Weaver, 1846. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Acronicta cinerea (Sweet Gale Moth). Rannoch. Dale coll, OUMNH.
In the June of 1846 in the Black Wood near Rannoch, Weaver took one male and two females of the Longhorn Acanthocinus aedilis which has extraordinary long antennae. The larva of this species feed in Pinus sylvestris. Up until this time A. aedilis was not known to be a native of Britain and was thought to have arrived here with imported wood. Weaver also took a number of the striking Trichius fasciatus of the family Scarabaeidae that was at that time considered a rare species which had not been captured for twenty years ; it is very local in Britain and only known from the central highlands of Scotland and from Wales.
There were no luxuries for Weaver when he was staying at Rannoch. He wrote to Dale from Rannoch on April 29, 1847 that it seemed like winter there with snow covering the tops of the mountains and where he was staying that year in a farmers' croft he had little to eat " for I get so badly fed that I must be careful or that I should be famished or something like that, I cannot do with my present living at all".
In 1853 Weaver added the rare and local noctuid moth Protolampra sobrina, a species of birch woods to the British list. Edward Newman (1869) wrote " The moth has been taken at Rannoch, in Perthshire, but I know of no other British locality". Newman advised his readers " With regard to this and other rarities, the attempt to collect them all with one's own hand is quite hopeless ; a perfect collection can only be obtained by an extensive correspondence with those of similar pursuits. " For those that were unable to exchange, Weaver and the other professionals of good reputation provided a valuable service to other collectors.
Weaver is commemorated by the moth Ectoedemia weaveri Stainton, 1855 of the family Nepticulidae. He found the larva of this small microlepidoptera mining the leaves of the cowberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea at Rannoch in 1854 and since his discovery, it has been found in other parts of Scotland, northern England and Wales in the high moorland and mountains where the foodplant occurs.
Newman E. (1869) Illustrated Natural History of British Moths.
Weaver R. (1825-1857) Letters to James Charles Dale.
Weaver R. (1844) Note on the capture Cordulia alpestris, Zoologist, vol 2, p, 750.
Weaver R. (1846) Capture of Lepidopterous Insects in Scotland. Zoologist, vol 4, p,1439
Weaver R. (1846) Capture of Lamia aedilis in the Black Forest, Rannoch. Zoologist, vol 4, p, 1460
Weaver R. (1846) Capture of Trichius fasciatus, near Loch Rannoch. Zoologist, vol 4, p, 1460
Weaver R. (1847) Capture of Cordulia arctica in Scotland. Zoologist., vol, p, 1869.
Weaver R. (1857) Note on an entomological excursion from Birmingham to Sutherland (1842) Zoologist, vol 15, pp, 5555-5556.
All the images were taken by me at OUMNH Oxford University Museum Natural History and they remain their copyright. Many thanks to James Hogan for giving permission to access the Dale collection and for permission to photograph these historically important specimens.
Richard Weaver was a very active professional collector, travelling the length and breadth of Britain. The collector Wallace in 1832 recorded that Weaver had explored many parts of England and Wales. The following are a few of the species that he either found as new to Britain or science or are noteworthy because the population occurring in this country is now extinct.
Rosy Marsh Moth, Coenophila subroseaStephens 1829. Family Noctuidae.
When the moth is fresh, the forewings of Coenophila subrosea have a beautiful rosy sheen which fades after a time in dead specimens. Weaver discovered this moth which was new to science at Yaxley Fen, Huntingdonshire in July 1828, during a thirteen week insect hunting sojourn in the fens. He found the moth visiting the tall purple flower spikes of the Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum). In the Dale collection there are two female specimens of C. subrosea that are labelled R. Weaver 1846. Walker (1909) observed that the contemporary labels on those two specimens if any, have been replaced by the hand written labels of Charles William Dale. Unfortunately C.W. Dale was a much less meticulously worker than his father and he is known from information in his father's diaries and elsewhere, to have added the wrong date to some of the specimens in the Dale collection. Weaver (1847) stated that he had only collected this species in 1828 and the two specimens in the Dale collection are almost certainly from his original collections at Yaxley Fen that were purchased by J.C. Dale.
This species was thought to be extinct in Britain when its fenland localities were destroyed, however, over a century later C. subrosea was discovered in a bog in North Wales in 1965 and in 2005 in marshes in Cumbria in Northern England. Abroad, this species has a wide distribution across Europe and Asia to Japan.
Below. C. subrosea. Whittlesea Mere. Ex coll R. Weaver. Dale coll, OUMNH.
This species had a highly restricted distribution in Britain, being found in a few woodlands in Sussex and in the New Forest. Fagivorina arenaria was discovered in the New Forest by James Charles Dale on June 2, 1823 and he took it their again in 1824. Weaver was the second entomologist to capture this pretty moth, taking a specimen in the forest in June 1825, which survives in the Dale collection. The usual method of obtaining specimens of this species was to search the oak trees when it was at rest during the daytime, although the moth was almost impossible to detect because of its cryptic colouring, it could be disturbed by raking them with a stick. The larvae were never discovered in Britain but in Europe the larva feed on lichens on oak trees. Always rare and local this species was last seen in Britain in the New Forest in 1872 and it is said a worn specimen that was taken in 1898 was observed in the collection of a New Forest Keeper. It is found in most of Central Europe to the Balkan Peninsula, Ukraine and as far south as Sicily and in the north to Sweden and Norway. The reasons for its extinction in Britain are unknown.
Below. Fagivorina arenaria. New Forest, June 1825, Weaver. Dale coll, OUMNH.
New Forest Cicada, Cicadetta montanaScopoli, 1772. Family Cicadidae order Hemiptera.
This insect was discovered by the London weaver Daniel Bydder in the New Forest in 1812 and it was not until 1824 that it was collected again there by Weaver who it seems had a monopoly on this rare species, taking it again in that locality in 1825, 1826, 1828, & 1829. This species was occasionally taken on the wing, when its flight was similar to that of an erratic bumble bee, or specimens were beaten from thorn bushes or found at rest. C. montana could command a very high price and Weaver could get as much as 10 pounds for a single specimen (worth approx £800 today). Although a few specimens of the Cicada were supposedly taken in a locality in Surrey, the New Forest was its main locality and Weaver took it again there in 1831 and in 1837, and ever the diligent collector in the latter year, he found seven imagoes that had just emerged from their pupae cases resting on ferns, his last recorded captures. The last confirmed sighting of this species was in the New Forest in 1993 and all recent attempts including those recently made by modern technology to listen for the low tone of singing males have failed to find it and it is now thought to have become extinct. It is regarded as endangered over large parts of Europe, and has vanished from several areas in Western Europe.
Cicadetta montana. Brockenhurst, New Forest. Probably from Weaver. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Silver Barred, Deltote bankiana Fabricius, 1775. Family Noctuidae » Eustrotiinae.
In 1840, Weaver set out on his first collecting expedition to Ireland. Weaver wrote to J.C. Dale from Worcester in 1841. "Sir it is some years since I informed you of my doings in Natural History. In the month of May 1840 I was in Ireland, that journey proved as unsuccessful as this last summer. I only have taken one insect of any note in Ireland, that was Erastria Bankiana. I have taken them on the bog, which was extremely unpleasant travelling owing to the wet underfoot, and the distance I had to go every day after them, it was in the neighbourhood of Killarney, the weather was wet, cold and windy, very unfortunate for me. I was at Dingle, and the west coast of Ireland but I had taken nothing there. I went by way of Liverpool, Dublin, Limrick, Dingle, then back through Killarney, Cork to Bristol, to Birmingham."
In Britain Deltote bankiana is a rare moth, being confined to a few sites in the fens of Cambridgeshire and to a coastal marsh in Kent. In Ireland it is found in the bogs of Cork and Kerry. The larvae feed on grasses.
In spite of his earlier misgivings regarding Ireland, Weaver returned to collect there in 1848 and found a species new to science in the bogs of Killarney, the rather drab Hypenodes humidalis. In 1850 the moth was discovered in Delamare Forest in Cheshire and is now known to have scattered distribution, mainly in western Britain where it is found in marshes and on wet heaths and moorland. The larvae have yet to be found in Britain.
Hypenodes humidalis. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Acanthopsyche atraLinnaeus, 1767. Psychinae.
Weaver found the larva of a new British moth of the family Psychidae in the New Forest in the summer of 1848 that Edward Newman described as in the Zoologist (1850) as Pysche fenella. The male specimen that Weaver bred from his larva was in the collection of Henry Doubleday. The females of this species are wingless and resemble the larva of the flies of the family Brachycera. Later when Weaver bred other specimens J.F. Stephens determined them as the Sterrhopteryx opacella Herrich-Schäffer 1846 a junior synonym of Acanthopsyche atra Linnaeus, 1767. In Britain this is a rare species of moorland and heathland where the foodplant is heather and grasses. The moths from the family Psychidae are also known as bagworms, due to the specific case-making habits of larva that they adorn with plant matter, these are certainly are among the strangest moths.
Acanthopsyche atra male. New Forest. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Weaver's Wave, Idaea contiguaria britanniae Muller 1936. Geometridae.
While Weaver was exploring the mountains of North Wales in 1855, he found a moth that was new to the Britain. Henry Doubleday figured and described it in the Entomologist's Annual (1856) as Dosithea eburnata Wocke 1850 a junior Synonym of Idaea contiguaria Hubner, 1799. Dr Leopold Muller (1936) a German entomologist described the British insect as Acidalia contiguaria britanniae but later in the same year as a distinct species Acidalia britanniae. It is now recognized as a subspecies of I. contiguaria as Muller first proposed.
Weaver in a letter dated August 21, 1856 told Dale that he had spent two months searching for D. eburnata but only took 2 or 3 pairs that were in fine condition and several that were worn. In the U.K. this is regarded as a scarce species, being only found in the hillsides of Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire in North-west Wales where it inhabits heather moorland and rests on rocks during the day. The larvae feed mostly on heather (Calluna), but also have been found on crowberry (Empetrum nigrum).
Idaea contiguaria britannicae. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Small Lappet, Phyllodesma ilicifolia Linnaeus, 1758. Lasiocampidae .
Phyllodesma ilicifolia is an extinct British moth that was always very local in Britain, being mainly found at Cannock Chase in the county of Staffordshire in the West Midlands of England. When Weaver went to search for P. ilicifolia he stayed near the small market town of Rugeley at the eastern end of Cannock Chase. The moth was on the wing in April and May and the larvae fed on Bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus from June to mid-August.
By the Spring of 1856 Weaver's health was poor but he still spent five weeks on the chase looking for the adults of P. ilicifolia but was unsuccessful. He was back at Rugeley in the summer, spending another five weeks searching for the larvae and was sure he had found some. In a letter dated August 21, 1856, he told J.C. Dale he thought he had found the correct larvae which had " blue ground colour and were mottled with orange, with black markings and 20 large almost square white spots, a very pretty larva". Weaver sent a larva to Henry Doubleday to make certain of his identification. He had a wish to try Cannock Chase for this rare species for some years, the moth having been discovered there in 1851.
On March 27, 1857, Weaver wrote to Dale that he had bred 5 P. ilicifolia and that he reserved the finest pair for him, priced £2, these two specimens can still be seen in the Dale collection today. In a letter dated May 29, 1857 Weaver wrote to Dale from Rugeley that the weather had "very cold with much rain but still I had good luck with P. ilicifolia or else my pockets would be empty." He had been staying at a farm at about a quarter of a mile from the spot where P. ilicifolia occurred. He included some details of his stay here in his letter " but sherry is the worse expense and a very high price, ruination to me, I cannot do with less than 3 or 4 bottles per week, the doctor will not allow me any other wines or spirits, for the last 16 or 17 years having had an inflammation of the liver, I also have bad asthma." Weaver had been out at night with his light and a female P. ilicifolia to try to assemble the males but had no success. He mentioned in his letter that they fly by day and thought they should at night too, he said that the season was now over for them. Two female P. ilicifolia had produced eggs in the spring which resulted in larvae which had died in the ensuring hot weather. Weaver returned to Rugeley in the June and July of 1857 and from the summer collections he managed to breed ten specimens from larvae that he collected. There are a number of Weaver's specimens of P. ilicifolia in the British Museum of Natural History, having passed through collections and sales. The last authenticated captures of this species were made at the beginning of the 20th century.
Below. A pair of P. ilicifolia that Richard Weaver bred from larvae collected on Cannock Chase in 1856. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Morley, C. (1941) The History of Cicadetta montana Scop in Britain, 1812-1940; The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, vol 921-922, pp 41-56.
Muller L. (1936) Acidalia contiguaria Hb (Schlu) Mitteilungen der Münchner Entomologischen Gesellschaft, p 151.
Newman (1850) Description of a second Lepidopterous Insect of the genus Psyche, recently discovered in Britain ; and proposed separation of a well known European species under a new generic name Zoologist, vol 8, xcix.
Walker. J.J. (1909) Some Notes on the Lepidoptera of the Dale Collection of British Insects now in the Oxford university Museum. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, vol XX, p 179.
Waring P. Townsend M. Lewington R. (2017) Field Guide to the moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Bloomsbury Wildlife Guides.
Weaver R. (1825-1857). Letters to James Charles Dale.
Weaver R. ( 1847) Note on Graphiphora subrosea of Stephens. The Zoologist : a monthly journal of natural history, Vol 5, p 1659.
All the images in this article were taken by me at OUMNH Oxford University Museum of Natural History and remain their copyright. Many thanks to James Hogan for access to the Dale collection.
Three races of Coenonympha tullia are found in Britain. Thomas (2014) regards scotica Staudinger 1901 as a distinct subspecies because of its long isolation and refers to davus Fabricius, 1777 and polydama Haworth, 1803 as forms ; scotica occurs in Central and Northern Scotland, polydama in Southern Scotland, parts of Northern England, Wales and Ireland, davus the most striking and brightly marked race, is found in North-west England, and a few localities in Shropshire, it was formerly found on the Manchester mosses which have long since vanished and in Delamere Forest in Cheshire, where it is now extinct.
In the 19th century there was much confusion regarding the different races of C. tulla and long before anyone thought of trinomial nomenclature they were originally thought to be three different species. The butterfly first appeared as a British species in Papilios of Great Britain (1795) by William Lewin as the Manchester Argus under the name hero Linnaeus, 1761, a species that is not native to Britain. Lewin illustrated specimens from the mosses near Manchester from the John Francillon collection.
Figure 1. Papilio hero = C. tulla davus. William Lewin, Papilios of Great Britain, plate 23, figures 5 & 6.
Coenonympha tullia f. davus. (Underside)The Manchester mosses. Dale coll, OUMNH. Specimens from this old locality are rare, even in museum collections.
Adrian Hardy Haworth in his Lepidoptera Britannica (1803) was the first author to recognize three separate species of this butterfly in Britain. Haworth named them the Marsh Ringlet, Papilio polydama, which he records was "very rare in the county of Yorkshire. I was once sent one captured by my very good friend P.W. Watson, adult in the month of June, in bogs", the Scarce Ringlet, Papilio typhon, that was also collected by Watson in Yorkshire. Haworth's third species was the Small Ringlet, Papilio davus Fabricius from the Manchester mosses.
Coenonympha tullia f. polydama underside. The first British specimen, captured by P.W. Watson at Beverley, Yorkshire before 1803, and sent to A.H. Haworth. Dale coll, OUMNH.
Richard Weaver was also convinced that there was three different species of this butterfly. In a letter to J.C. Dale dated, September 27, 1827, he wrote that he had collected davus on Aston Moss near Manchester ; polydamus in North Wales and typhon in the mountains of Westmoreland and Cumberland, both are now part of modern Cumbria. Weaver's typhon were certainly a form of polydama with reduced spots, as John Curtis later included his specimens caught in the highlands of Scotland under that taxon, which are now known as subspecies scotica.C. tullia f. davus occurs in the wet mosses on the coastal plain in Cumbria, which Weaver seems not to have found. In the collection of J.C. Dale there are four specimens of polydama from the former county of Cumberland, that were probably bought from Weaver as typhon and at least two have the hindwing underside spots hardly discernible but the same is true of some of his specimens in his collection of that form from Ireland and Newcastle in Northumberland.
Coenonympha tullia f. polydama Underside. Cumberland, Weaver? Dale coll, OUMNH.
Coenonympha tullia scotica underside. Rannoch, June 1913. Bristol Museum coll.
Richard Weaver visited James Francis Stephens in London in 1827 with his collections of polydamus, davus and typhon. Stephens was busy preparing his great work, Illustrations of British Entomology for publication and needed to compare specimens from the different localities. Stephens agreed with Weaver that there were three species and when vol 1 of his work was published in 1828, he included them under the genus Hipparchia, however he gave typhon Haworth the new name of iphis, writing of the latter " The varieties of this species are almost interminable. The first notice of this insect as indigenous is given in Lepidoptera Britannicae, from two specimens captured by P.W. Watson, near Beverley, Yorkshire. Many years passed away without other specimens occurring, and the London cabinets were destitute of this species, until the learned author of the above work discovered it in profusion in a marshy situation near Cottingham in the above country and supplied his friends there in." Stephens gave Cumberland as a locality for iphis where he recorded that Weaver had taken it in great plenty, Northumberland, Scotland and Wales. The localities he gave for polydama were the mountains of Wales, between Bala and Festiniog Merionethshire and that Weaver had taken this species in somewhat plenty in North Wales, davus as being found in profusion in marshes between Stockport and Ashton near Manchester.
John Curtis in his British Entomology vol 1 (1823-1840) placed H. iphis Stephens as a synonym of typhon Haworth and retained davus as a species but regarded polydama as a form of the latter. He recorded that he had taken H. typhon (ssp scotica) in Scotland with J.C. Dale in 1825 in rushy and swampy places near Schechallion, Killin, the Isle of Arran and that Mr Marshall had presented him with specimens he had taken in Cumberland. Very surprisingly, although J.C. Dale took ssp scotica at several localities in Central Scotland with Curtis, the only specimens of this species in the Dalean collection are from the Islands of Orkney.
In 1841, John Obadiah Westwood in his British butterflies and their Transformations placed this butterfly in the genus Coenonympha of Hubner and followed Curtis and recognized two species, davus and typhon.
Francis Orpen Morris in his History of British Butterflies (1853) recognized one species, Hipparchia davus and mentioned he had taken it on Thorne Moor near Doncaster some time ago with his good friend J.C. Dale and wrote " This is an exceedingly variable insect, and as many supposed, several so-called species have been made out of one".
Coenonympha tullia f. polydama underside. Thorne Moor near Doncaster, Yorkshire J.C. Dale. Dale coll. OUMNH.
After Morris, it seems most authors were in agreement that this butterfly consisted of one species. Edward Newman in his Illustrated Natural History of British Butterflies (1869) called the butterfly, the Marsh Ringlet, Coenonympha davus Fabricius, 1777, a junior synonym of C. tullia Muller, 1764. Those populations that we regard today as C. tullia f. davus, Newman determined as Rothlieb's Marsh Ringlet, C. davus var Rothliebii.
Coenonympha tullia f. davus underside. A specimen from the extinct population from Delemare Forest, Cheshire. Ex Leonard Woods Newman, 1915. BM coll.
Coenonympha tullia f. davus underside. Whixall Moss. Shropshire, 1926.
In a letter to J.C. Dale written on April 28, 1828 Weaver was suggested that he might go to Sussex in search of Hipparchia hero. Stephens (1828) in his Illustrations of British Entomology, vol 1 included C. hero and writes. " There was a specimen of this species, and also one of the following, in the collection of Mr Plastead ; the former said to have been taken near Withyham, on the borders of Ashdown Forest, Sussex, but being unable to examine the originals, I merely given the Linnean definition". History seems to have been silent on the subject of his first name of Plastead, but it is known that he was one of the most notorious dealers of the 19th century, introducing a number of continental specimens as British. Therefore, when Plastead was no longer with us, many of his butterflies such as C. hero vanished. J.C. Dale wrote in the Weekly Entomologist (1862) in a note entitled H. Hero and others " Several insects are expunged from our list which were formerly were admitted, and people, in consequence, will not take the trouble to find out the authorities (as I have in a few instances). Hipparchia hero is doubted now, though admitted by Haworth, Curtis, Stephens. Curtis had a female from Plastead, who told him that he took it in Ashdown Forest (as also male and female L. chryseis) and Haworth told me he saw it on the setting board before it was dry. I am told Plastead might have relaxed and re-set it. Curtis also had Arcanius (Coenonympha arcania) from Plastead. Some say and formerly, what collection had not. Where they could not get British specimens, they put foreign ones, and sometimes allied species. Mr Stephens among others, adopted this plan, having put in, and figured as British (see Plate 1) Colias Philodoce, an American species nearly allied to Hyale, then in few Cabinets."
The specimens in this article were taken by me at OUMNH Oxford University Museum of Natural History and BM Bristol Museum and they retain the copyright.
Dale J.C. (1862) H. hero and others. The Weekly Entomologist, vol 1-3,Page 109.
Curtis. (1824-1840) British entomology, vol 5.
Haworth A.H. (1803) Lepidoptera Britannica . Morris F.O. (1853) History of British Butterflies.
Lewin W. (1795) The Papilios of Great Britain.
Stephens J.F. (1828) Illustrations of British Entomology, vol 1.
Thomas T. Lewington L. (2014) Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, 3rd edition.
Weaver R. Letters to J.C. Dale. OUMNH. 1827-1856.
Westwood. J.O. Humphreys H.N. (1841) British butterflies and their Transformations.
Some interesting information is provided by Weaver regarding certain 19th century dealers in letters to J.C. Dale. In a letter dated October 30, 1841, Weaver writes " I called on Mr Reid of Doncaster, there I saw a lot of continental insects of our rare British species. I understand that he is in the habit of importing nearly all the rare British species from the continent and supplies Mansfield and other dealers with those specimens. After the insect passes through two or three hands in course of a little time, they are palmed off as British, this is degrading and an imposition. A curious feeling came over me when I saw those foreign insects and very fine specimens, selling for the price of common ones, what was the use of collectors spending so much time and money seeking after rare British insects when at the same time monied gentlemen are content with foreign specimens because its cheaper and there are irresponsible persons like Mansfield who defraud the purchaser".
In another letter to J.C. Dale dated November 3, 1843, Weaver writing of his own capture of Boloria dia, added " I saw four specimens of M. dia in a dealers box who told me they were British, although this was an insect I much wish for I could not believe him because of the very low price he asked for the insects. I found them out to be foreign. I suppose he palmed them off as British on someone he had taken in, hundreds in the same way, Mansfield I am speaking off. I have heard of him having 500 Atropos at a time and other sorts in large amounts. He travels all over the kingdom, he has pretty well sprinkled his British insects with foreign."
J.C. Dale would certainly already knew of Mansfield the dealer from John Quekett the famous microscopist. In a letter to Dale dated April 8th, 1837, Quekett had told him that Mansfield had visited him at his Langport home. Quekett writes " I got from Mansfield when he was here the other day a pair of Argynnis lathonia, a pair of the Scarce Copper, virgaureae, a Deilphila Galii." These were certainly not British and it does seem that Quekett in spite of their fairly low price may have thought they were taken in this country. This letter would seem to confirm that those specimens of L. virgaureae seen in the Quekett museum at Langport came from Mansfield and were not British as supposed by William Bidgood of the Taunton Castle Museum.
This was not the first visit to Quekett of the dealer Mansfield from Birmingham. In a letter dated December 26th, 1835, John Quekett wrote to J.C. Dale " Mansfield the dealer paid a visit in early September, for some shabby specimens of arion I got a V. antiopa, Apatua iris and a few other rare butterflies and moths. An exquisite sphix convolvuli was 1/6, he requested 4 bad arion but this I refused, which he did not much like, then he said that arion had been taken in great plenty at Bedford but could not tell me by whom and he then said that he had been shown a specimen taken at Roundhill situated a few miles below Taunton, but I could not learn in whose possession that said specimen was in. As an inducement for me to accede to his proposal, he said he would show me something that he had taken in Breech Wood (Aller Hills) which was more valuable than arion, but after this I would not exchange. He promised me a P. daplidice some-time next season when he came again, he said he had a box of them waiting for him at Salisbury." There is little doubt that Manfield's box of P. daplidice had newly arrived from mainland Europe, probably by way of Mr Reide, the Doncaster middle man and they would be eagerly bought by collectors as genuine British examples.
Apart from his two specimens of Boloria dia, Weaver's other British specimens were never questioned and he was one of the most reliable dealers of the 19th century. Another honest dealer of that time was Benjamin Standish and it is clear from Weaver's early letter's to J.C. Dale, that he was on friendly terms with the London professional collector.
The last in the series of articles about Richard Weaver.
The strange case of Lyceana dispar in Staffordshire.
Richard Weaver in the Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer April 19, 1856 placed a note under Communications, Chrysophanus Dispar in Staffordshire, which must have caused quite a stir in entomological circles, especially as this butterfly was thought to be extinct in the fenland of Britain. He writes " Seeing in your Manual it is stated at page 11, that the Large Copper is only to be obtained in the fens, I beg to say, that a few days ago a gentleman bought to show me a male and a female of that species, which he captured last year in Staffordshire : this is a new locality to me, and I suppose is so to most entomologists: I quite expect this insect will be diligently looked after this season in this new locality."
This communication was too much for John Scott, he wrote in the Intelligencer May 17, 1856 what he thought of Weaver's announcement of dispar being found in Staffordshire." This sounds at present not unlike capturing it five miles from anywhere. Perhaps Mr Weaver will be kind enough to favour us with the part of Staffordshire or the place therein where it was taken and which evidently, in his earnestness to make public this valuable discovery he has overlooked."
Weaver replied to Scott in the Intelligencer, May 31, 1856. " A county is rather an extensive locality : but the place where the butterfly was taken by my friend did not let me know, as he wished to try the place for it this season for his own cabinet, and also that of his friend: last season he only captured two specimens. It is anything but pleasant to be criticized when I did my best to please (as I thought)."
Entomologists throughout the country soon had their hopes dashed that a new locality had been found for L. dispar, Henry Tibbats Stainton, the editor of the Intelligencer, announced the following year on April 4, 1957 that Weaver had been misinformed by the collector that showed him the L. dispar specimens and that he should be exonerated of all blame. Stainton writes " Our readers will all remember a little controversy which arose in our columns last year upon this subject, in which an announcement made by Mr Weaver was queried in a rather incredulous tone. We confess at the time we were not very sanguine of the truth of the locality, and we have now learnt that Mr Weaver had been misinformed. But the fault was not Mr Weavers : he was misled (as many of us have been, and will be again) by wrong information and his informant (a valued correspondent of ours) did not deceive him willfully, but was led into the error overlooking the fact that he had placed a number of his own captures in a box in which were some " Large Coppers" he had bought of a working man, and hence happened that looking at the whole of the contents of his own captures, ignorant also of the intrinsic value of C. Dispar till afterwards pointed out, he " felt confident," to use his own words " that he had made the capture" Rarely is an unjust suspicion so completely removed as it has been with respect to Mr Weaver in the present instance".
History does not tell who the forgetful collector was, who in in Stainton owns words " a valued correspondent of ours" but did not know of the Large Copper and then forgot he had bought that butterfly from a working man and had placed them in a box of his own self caught butterflies, then taking the pair of L. dispar to Weaver and stating that he had caught them the previous summer and then refrained from informing him the exact location, because he wanted to return and catch more with a friend.
Scott J. (1856) Chrysophanus Dispar in Staffordshire. The Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer,vo1, p. 51.
Stainton H.T. (1857) Chrysophanus Dispar in Staffordshire. The Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer, vol 2, p. 3.
Weaver R. (1856) Chrysophanus Dispar in Staffordshire. The Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer, vol1, p. 18.
Weaver R. (1856) Chrysophanus Dispar in Staffordshire. The Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer, vo1, p. 67.