Buckton, George Bowdler (DNB12)

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BUCKTON, GEORGE BOWDLER (1818–1905), entomologist, born at Hornsey on 24 May 1818, was eldest son of George Buckton, a proctor of the prerogative court of Canterbury, of Doctors Commons and Oakfield, Hornsey, by his wife Eliza, daughter of Richard Merricks, D.L., of Runcton, Cheshire. An accident at the age of five crippled him for life, and deprived him of a public school and university career.

Buckton early became interested in natural history, and astronomy, and after the death of his father removed to London and became a student at the Royal College of Chemistry in 1848 under A. W. Hofmann. There he remained seven years, being for part of the time research assistant to Hofmann. His first researches dealt with platinum compounds ; the most important of a series dating from 1852 to 1865 described his discovery and isolation of mercuric methyl. On his marriage in 1865 and settlement at Weycombe, Haslemere, he abandoned the study of chemistry and took up again the thread of an early interest in entomology.

His first important research in natural history was a study of parthenogenesis in aphides, which led to his 'Monograph of British Aphides' (Ray Society, 4 vols. 1876-1883). This was followed by a 'Monograph of British Cicadas or Tettigiidse.' (2 vols. 1890-1), the 'Natural History of Eristalis Tenax or the Drone Fly' (1895), and a 'Monograph of the Membracidaa of the World' (1901-3). Meanwhile he pursued astronomical study in a private observatory until 1882, when he fell in trying to reach the long focus of a Newtonian telescope, fracturing his leg in two places, and lying for some hours undiscovered. He was elected F.R.S. in 1857, and contributed fourteen papers to scientific periodicals, two of them in conjunction with Prof. Hofmann, and one with Dr. Odling. He died from the effects of a chill on 25 Sept. 1905. In 1865 he married Mary Ann, daughter of George Odling of Croydon and sister of Prof. William Odling of Oxford. His wife survived him with a son and five daughters. His bust, by R. Hope-Pinker, was exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1904.

[Proc. Roy. Soc. lxxix. B. (1907), p. xlv; Nature, 1905, 587; Trans. Chem. Soc. lxxii. 1907, i. 663; Allingham's Diary, 1910.]

R. S.