Thomas Vernon Wollaston

Plate from Wollaston's Coleoptera Sanctæ-Helenæ (1877)

Thomas Vernon Wollaston FLS (9 March 1822 – 4 January 1878) was a prominent English entomologist and malacologist, becoming especially known for his studies of Coleoptera inhabiting several North Atlantic archipelagoes. He was well-placed socially. His religious beliefs effectively prevented him from supporting Charles Darwin's theories after 1859, but Darwin remained a close friend. Wollaston supported the theory that continental lands had once extended outward farther to encompass some of the island groups he studied.


Thomas Vernon Wollaston was born in Scotter, Lincolnshire, England, in 1822. In 1845 he gained a B.A. degree from Jesus College, Cambridge,[1] and in 1847 he was made a fellow of the Linnean Society.

Wollaston spent the winter of 1847-1848 in Madeira, returning for his Cambridge M.A. graduation in 1849. In the years to 1855 he made four long trips to Madeira. In that year the British Museum purchased his Madeiran collection of Coleoptera. They are now in the Natural History Museum.

In 1857 Wollaston returned to the North Atlantic islands, investigating the natural history of the Canary Islands - with Richard Thomas Lowe and John Edward Gray in 1858, returning with Lowe alone in 1859. After a long and rather mysterious absence he returned to the islands in 1866, this time to Cape Verde Islands with Lowe and Gray. Wollaston was a frequent correspondent with the geologist Charles Lyell and their letters are in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library. Wollaston was also a friendly correspondent with Charles Darwin until 1860. His last trip was to St. Helena with his wife, and Gray.

Wollaston died at Teignmouth, Devon, England, in 1878.[2]

Selected works

Wollaston also wrote many short, and some lengthy, papers on North Atlantic archipelago Coleoptera. A paper attributed to Wollaston on the Diptera of Madeira was almost certainly written by Alexander Henry Haliday.


  1. "Wollaston, Thomas Vernon (WLSN841TV)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2.  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Wollaston, Thomas Vernon". Dictionary of National Biography. 62. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 309 –310.

Further reading

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