William Sharp Macleay

William Sharp Macleay

William Sharp Macleay FRS, (21 July 179226 January 1865) was a British entomologist.

Early life

Macleay was born in London, eldest son of Alexander Macleay. He attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge graduating with honours in 1814. He was then appointed attaché to the British embassy at Paris, and secretary to the board for liquidating British claims on the French government, and following his father in taking an interest in natural history became friendly with Georges Cuvier, and other celebrated men of science.

Early scientific career

Macleay's principal work was "Horae Entomologicae; or, Essays on the Annulose Animals", parts 1-2 (1819-1821). 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, 1925).

Other minor publications on insects including "Remarks on the devastation occasioned by Hylobius abietis in fir plantations" in the "Zoological Journal" and several notes in the "Transactions of the Entomological Society of London". Macleay sent many insects to Frederick William Hope. These are now in the Hope Department of Entomology.

Macleay was a noted advocate of the short-lived Quinarian system of classification, which is used extensively in "Horae Entomologicae".


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 on a pension of £900.

Macleay had maintained his scientific work whilst in Havana and was elected to the Linnean Society and the Zoological Society. He was elected president of the natural history section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.


Macleay emigrated to Australia in 1839, living at his father's, Elizabeth Bay House (he inherited it in 1848). The House later became a meeting place for men with scientific interests. Macleay was interested in the natural history of Australia, the marine fauna around Port Jackson in particular. Later he collected a large number of Australian insects; on his death these were bequeathed to his cousin William John Macleay and eventually transferred to the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney in 1890.

Macleay interested William John Macleay in natural history, and to a lesser degree, his brother George Macleay.

External links

* [http://www.usyd.edu.au/museums/about/macleay.shtml About the Macleay Museum]


*A.Y. Swainston (1985). William Sharp Macleay, "Linnean", 1 (5) : 11-18.
*David S. Macmillan, ' [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A020158b.htm Macleay, William Sharp (1792 - 1865)] ', "Australian Dictionary of Biography", Volume 2, MUP, 1967, pp 182-183

Additional resources listed by the "Australian Dictionary of Biography":
*P. P. King, "Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia", vols 1-2 (Lond, 1827)
*Linnean Society of New South Wales, "Macleay Memorial Volume", ed J. J. Fletcher (Syd, 1893)
*"Calcutta Journal of Natural History", July 1841
*"Annals of Natural History", 8 (1841), 9 (1842)
*"Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science", 3 (1849)
*Macleay papers (University of Sydney Archives)

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