William Sharp Macleay

William Sharp Macleay

William Sharp Macleay

Birth : (1792-07-21)21 July 1792 London

Death : 26 January 1865(1865-01-26)(aged 72) Sydney, Australia

Personal Information

Name William Sharp Macleay
Birth (1792-07-21)21 July 1792 London
Birth Place London
Death (1865-01-26)(aged 72) Sydney, Australia
Died At Sydney, Australia
Nationality British
Famous Research entomologist

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Events Occured in Scienctist Life


He attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with honours in 1814.


The first part of Horae Entomologicae included a re-examination of Linnaeus' genus Scarabaeus (12th edition of Systema Naturae, 1767) within the taxonomic context of Pierre Andre Latreille's "Lamellicornes" becoming the first monographer of what today is the family Scarabaeidae.


He also published Annulosa Javanica or an Attempt to illustrate the Natural Affinities and Analogies of the Insects collected in Java by T. Horsfield, no. 1 (London, 1825).


This was an attempt to classify animals into related groups and was put forward in Part 2 of his book Horae Entomologicae (1821).


As precursors of the concepts of homology and homoplasy, these proposals were taken very seriously at the time, and Charles Darwin, who got to know Macleay after he returned from the Beagle voyage, tried to fit Quinarian ideas into his evolutionary schemes up to about 1845 (see "The Development of Darwin's Theory" by Dov Ospovat, 1981).


In 1825, Macleay was appointed British commissioner of arbitration to the joint British and Spanish Court of Commission in Havana, Cuba, for the abolition of the slave trade; he became commissary judge in 1830, and then was appointed judge to the Mixed Tribunal of Justice in 1833.


He retired in 1836 (at the age of 44) on a pension of £900.


Australia Macleay emigrated to Australia in 1839, living briefly at the Colonial Secretary's House in Macquarie Place with his parents before moving in September of that year to the family's still unfinished Elizabeth Bay House.


He took possession of the estate in 1845, having taken on his father Alexander's considerable debts and the mortgages on the property (he formally inherited it in 1848).


Later, he collected a large number of Australian insects; on his death, these were bequeathed to his cousin William John Macleay, whose interest in natural history he encouraged and who in 1888 transferred them to the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, for which act he was knighted.


Macleay lived alone at Elizabeth Bay House until his death on 26 January 1865.