William Kirby (entomologist)

William Kirby (Entomologist)

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William Kirby (entomologist)

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William Kirby (19 September 1759 – 4 July 1850) was an English entomologist, an original member of the Linnean Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is considered the "founder of entomology".

Family origins and early studies

Kirby was a grandson of the Suffolk topographer John Kirby (author of The Suffolk Traveller) and nephew of artist-topographer Joshua Kirby (a friend of Thomas Gainsborough's). He was also a cousin of the children's author Mrs Sarah Trimmer. His parents were William Kirby, a solicitor, and Lucy Meadows. He was born at Witnesham, Suffolk, and studied at Ipswich School and Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1781. Taking holy orders in 1782, he spent his entire life in the peaceful seclusion of an English country parsonage at Barham in Suffolk. He assisted in the publication of pamphlets against Thomas Paine during the 1790s.The primary source for Kirby's biography is J. Freeman, . (Longman Green Brown & Longmans, London 1852).

Kirby was brought to the study of natural history by Dr Nicholas Gwynn (a friend of Boerhaave's), who introduced him to Dr Smith (Sir James Edward Smith) at Ipswich in 1791. Soon afterwards he corresponded with Smith seeking advice in the foundation of a natural history museum at Ipswich. Among his early friends were the naturalists Charles Sutton and Thomas Marsham, with whom he made lengthy scientific excursions, as later with William......
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