Revision of Robert Shelford from Wed, 2008-08-20 03:58


Robert Walter
Campbell Shelford (1872-1912)


Although he
was a cockroach specialist and little of his published work was on mantids,
Robert Shelford's work is significant because of the large number of Bornean
phasmid specimens that he collected for the Sarawak Museum during his time as
curator.  Many of these mantids were
described as new species by Giglio-Tos. 
Shelford's life and mantis work is outlined here.

Walter Campbell Shelford was born 3rd August 1872 in Singapore, the son of a
prominent British merchant.  As a child,
after an accident at the age of three, he developed a tubercular hip joint that
incapacitated him for several years as a child.  He became more mobile after an operation but was never able to
participate in active sports as a child, although as an adult he enjoyed
playing golf.  The tuberculosis recurred
in later life, and was the eventual cause of his death at an early age.

studied at King's College, London, and then at Emmanuel College,
Cambridge.  After graduating from
Cambridge in 1895 he went to Yorkshire College in Leeds as a demonstrator in
Biology.  In 1897 he went to Sarawak as
the Curator of the Sarawak Museum, a post he held for seven years.  While he was at the Sarawak Museum quite a
lot of specimens were sent to his old university at Cambridge.

1905 he left Sarawak Museum and returned to England.  He went to Oxford and became an Assistant Curator of the Hope
Department of Zoology at the University Museum.  On his way back to England he collected many specimens which he
gave to the Hope Collection in Oxford, in addition to "the vast collection of
Bornean insects which he had presented [to the Hope Collection] during
1899-1901 while Curator of the Sarawak Museum" (Smith, 1986: 58). 

was at Oxford that he did most of his published research on phasmids.  Most of his work at Oxford was on
cockroaches, but he also worked on the other insects he had brought back from
Borneo, and assisted in the library.

married Audrey Gurney from Bath on 25th June 1908.  In April 1909 he slipped and the tubercular disease flared up and
severely limited his work throughout the final three years of his life.  Robert Shelford died at the age of 39 on
22nd June 1912. 

best-known publication, his book A Naturalist in Borneo (Shelford,
1916), was published several years after his death, having been completed by
his Oxford colleague, Edward Poulton. 
The book was popular when originally published, and was reprinted in
paperback by Oxford University Press in1985.

Species named after Shelford

Shelford has had several
Orthopteroid insects named after him. 
These include one Bornean mantis: Deroplatys shelfordi Kirby,
1903, one Bornean phasmid: Baculofractum shelfordi Bragg, 2005, two
genera of cockroaches: Shelfordella Adelung, 1910 and Shelfordina
Hebard, 1929, and 17 species of cockroaches.

Shelford's mantids

The vast majority of mantis
specimens in the Sarawak Museum in Kuching (SMSM) were collected during
Shelford's time as curator, this is probably also the case for the majority of
insect groups in the collection.  Many
of the Bornean specimens in both Oxford (OXUM) and Cambridge (CUMZ) University
collections are also specimens collected during Shelford's time in Sarawak.

never described any new species of mantids, but Kirby's description of Deroplatys
Kirby, 1903, is attached at the end of Shelford's 1903 paper
describing the behaviour of mantids.

His 1913 paper on orthopteroid
insects, in which he describes his five new species of phasmids, only records
one species of mantis: two males of Thrinaconyx kischianus Saussure
& Zehntner, 1894 from Santo Domingo de Los Colorados in Ecuador.

book, A Naturalist in Borneo, Shelford (1916: 128-147) includes many observations on the behaviour of mantids,
although many of these had already been published in his paper of 1903.  Shelford's observations of Bornean insects
are based on both observations in the wild, and in captivity.  


Shelford, R. (1902) Observations
on some mimetic insects and spiders from Borneo and Singapore.  Proceedings of the Zoological Society of
2: 230-284, plates 19-23.

Shelford, R.
notes on some Bornean Mantidae.  Zoologist,
7: 293-504.

Shelford, R.
Blattides, Mantides et Phasmides. Mission du Service Géographique de
pour la Mesure d'un Arc de M
éridien Equatorial en Amérique du Sud
sous le contrôle scientifique de L'Académie des Sciences, 1899-1906.
Volume 10(1): 57-62, pl.3.

Shelford, R.W.C.
A Naturalist
in Borneo
. T. Fisher
Unwin Ltd., London.

A.Z. (1986)
A History of the Hope Entomological Collections in
the University Museum, Oxford with lists of Archives and Collections
Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Wed, 2008-08-20 03:58 -- pbragg
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith