Percy H Grimshaw, Insect Specialist

at the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Percy Hall Grimshaw was born in 1869 near Leeds. He was the son of David and Emma (Hall) Grimshaw. At about age 24 (in 1893) he moved to Edinburgh to join the Royal Scottish Museum. There he became an expert on insects, with particular emphasis on butterflies (Order Lepidoptera). He became Keeper of the Natural History Department at the museum in 1930, a post he held until retiring in 1935. He received the Imperial Service Order (ISO) when he retired.

Percy was a prolific scientist and published about 89 articles during his professional career, almost all on insects. Perhaps his best-known work was his contribution to volume 5 (Zoogeography) of Bartholomew’s Physical Atlas, in which he was apparently responsible for Plates 29 to 35 (with six maps in each plate showing worldwide distribution of about 3 insect species on each map).

Percy Grimshaw was apparently descended from the Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw family line in Yorkshire. A candidate for his father, David Grimshaw, has been identified in the descendant chart of Edward and Dorothy Grimshaw. If this David proves to be the correct candidate, then Percy was the nephew of the noted painter, Atkinson Grimshaw. Percy married Jeanie Blair White at an unknown date, and they had one daughter. He died in November 1939.


Webpage Credits

Photos of Percy Grimshaw

Bibliography of Works by Percy Grimshaw

Zoogeography, A Portion of Which Was Prepared by Percy Grimshaw

Percy Grimshaw’s Contribution to Fauna Hawaiiensis

The Royal Museum of Scotland

1881 British Census Record of Percy Grimshaw’s Family of Origin

Obituaries of Percy Grimshaw

Hypothesized Ancestry of Percy Grimshaw


Webpage Credits

None yet.

Photos of Percy Grimshaw

Two renditions of the same photograph of Percy have been found, one on the internet and the other in an obituary1 for Percy. They are shown below.

Source: g.html

Source: Obituary in North Western Naturalist 

Bibliography of Works by Percy Grimshaw

As noted, Percy Grimshaw was a prolific scientist in his field. John Smart, Ph.D., compiled and published a comprehensive bibliography of Percy’s works in 1945, some six years after Percy’s death in 1939. Smart found a total of 89 works; his bibliography is published in the Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History2. A copy of the bibliography is shown below.

Zoogeography, A Portion of Which Was Prepared by Percy Grimshaw

A major atlas of the world was published around the turn of the century (1899-1900) in a series of volumes. This Physical Atlas, published by J.G. Bartholomew in Edinburgh, included as Volume 5, Zoogeography, which was published in 1911. Percy Grimshaw contributed the sections on insects. A photo of Zoogeography, an oversize book, is shown below.

Zoogeography was described by Isadore Mudge4 in 1917 – not too many years after its publication in 1911 – as follows:

An entirely new work, not based, except plate 36, on any previous work. Includes all families of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians together with several of the more important genera and species, most of the families of fishes and a selection of families and genera of molluscs and insects. Text furnishes concise information about the groups whose distribution is shown on the plates. About 200 maps all together, as most of the 36 plates contain 6 maps each. Contains a bibliography of about 1,000 titles arranged by regions subdivided by animals.

The title page of Zoogeography is shown below. Note that it includes “A Series of Maps Illustrating the Distribution of Over Seven Hundred Families, Genera, and Species of Existing Animals”.

Percy Grimshaw’s contributions included maps showing world distribution of members of the following insect families:

Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths

Coleoptera – beetles

Hymenoptera – bees, wasps and ants

Diptera – mosquitos and flies

Hemiptera – scale insects

Neuroptera – termites and dragonflies

Trichoptera – caddis flies

Orthoptera – grasshoppers and locusts

The sections of the table of contents of Zoogeography covering Percy Grimshaw’s contributions are shown below. World maps showing the distribution of members of the eight listed insect families are provided as Plates 29 to 35 of the atlas.

An example of one of the plates showing world distribution of insect families (or members of families) is shown below; it is Plate 29, which includes members of the Lepidoptera family.

Image 4 of Plate 29 (Map iv, in upper right hand corner) shows world distribution of members of the Lepidoptera family, namely Rhopalocera: Terias, Catopsilla, Gonopteryx. This map is shown below.

Percy Grimshaw’s Contribution to Fauna Hawaiiensis

Percy Grimshaw also made a substantial contribution to another major biological work, a British study of the fauna of the Hawaiian (Sandwich) islands5. His portion was on “Diptera” and appeared in Part I of Volume III. The full text, consisting of 97 pages, can be viewed by clicking here. The cover and part of the first page are shown below.




The following helpful description of Fauna Hawaiiensis was prepared by Karl Magnacca:

Fauna Hawaiiensis

This is the result of a project by the British Natural History Museum to catalog the entire fauna of the Hawaiian Islands. It took over 20 years from start to finish, and although it obviously came nowhere near its goal (one only need look at the number of species described in the Insects of Hawaii series to see that), it is the foundation on which all the later works were built. It was primarily driven by David Sharp, the overall editor and organizer, and Robert Cyril Layton Perkins, who did much of the collections.

It was published in 18 sections between 1899 and 1913, which were later bound into three volumes. Unfortunately, like many books of that period, it was printed on acid-bleached paper (ironically, books from the 1600’s are often in better shape than those from the early 1900’s). As a result, the books are now extremely fragile, and most libraries will not allow you to make copies of it – never mind the fact that you’re dealing with a hundred-year-old, 600-page book.

Fortunately, I obtained a photocopy thanks to David Foote and Pete Oboyski, and scanned it to pdf (thanks also to Curtis Ewing for scanning the figures). It is now complete; previously, issue 1.6 (Introduction) was missing pp. ccxxiv-ccxxv, and issue 3.1 (Diptera) was missing pp. 34-35, so if you downloaded it before June 2007 you should get the new versions of these sections. The links are below, broken up by sections. Some issues contained more than one section. The illustrations are included with the section they go with; you can also download all the illustrations in one file. It is also important to note that they were not bound into volumes in the order they were printed; for example, the Introduction is in volume 1 even though it was published last. Also, the filenames have spaces in them, so to save them, right-click and use “Save Link As” instead of saving from the Acrobat reader, which will give you “%20” instead of the spaces.

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

1 Hymenoptera Aculeata

1 Orthoptera

1 Diptera

2 Macrolepidoptera

2 Neuroptera

2 Hemiptera

3 Hymenoptera Parasitica

3 Coleoptera I (Phytophaga) & II (various)

3 Coleoptera III (Caraboidea)

4 Vertebrata

4 Mollusca

4 Macrolepidoptera supplement

5 Microlepidoptera

4 Annelida

4 Thysanura, Collembola, Mallophaga, Myriapoda,
Arachnida supplement

6 Introduction

5 Arachnida

5 Coleoptera IV (various)


5 Crustacea

6 Coleoptera V (various)


6 Hemiptera supplement

6 Thysanoptera, Strepsiptera, Acarina


6 Hymenoptera supplement


6 other groups supplement




Extracts from plates at the end of Percy Grimshaw’s work, intricate drawings of some of the insects, are shown below.

Volume III, Plate II, Figure 3. Pipunculus molokaiensis, sp. n.

Volume III, Plate II, Figure 11. Dyscritomyia limbipennis Thoms., ♂.

Volume III, Plate III, Figure 9. Drosophila variegata, sp. n.,

The Royal Museum of Scotland

The Royal Museum, where Percy Grimshaw spent his professional career, is described below from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Pictures and additional information on the museum are provided below the description.

Royal Museum

The Royal Museum is a museum on Chambers Street, in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is part of the National Museums of Scotland, adjacent to the Museum of Scotland. Admission, other than for special temporary exhibitions, is free. The Royal Museum and the linked Museum of Scotland are collectively known as the National Museum of Scotland.


The museum contains artifacts from around the world, encompassing geology, archeology, natural history, science, technology and art. One of the more notable exhibits is Dolly the sheep, the first successful clone of a mammal from an adult cell. Other highlights include Ancient Egyptian exhibitions, one of Elton John’s extravagant suits, a suspended whale skeleton and the Millennium clock. The wing which contains the aforementioned whale skeleton is temporarily closed for renovation, and will reopen in 2011.

Temporary Collections

The museum currently has an exhibit on Picasso (“Fired With Passion”) but incurs an extra fee for entry. Another temporary gallery is the Ivy Wu gallery with exhibits of art and script for Japan, China and Korea which has been open from 2006 and will close in 2008.

History and architecture

Construction was started in 1861 and proceeded in phases, with some sections opening before others had even begun construction. The original extent of the building was completed in 1888. It was designed by Captain Francis Fowke of the Royal Engineers, who is also responsible for the Royal Albert Hall. The exterior, designed in a Venetian Renaissance style, contrasts sharply with the light flooded main hall, inspired by The Crystal Palace.


Photos of the interior and exterior of the Royal Museum are shown below.




There apparently are plans to refurbish the Royal Museum; a schematic is provided below.


1881 British Census Record of Percy Grimshaw’s Family of Origin

Percy Grimshaw was recorded in the 1881 British Census as an 11-year-old living with his family at Headingly Cum Burley, near Leeds, in Yorkshire. The record is shown below.


Household Record  1881 British Census


Household Record 1881 British Census
Household Record 1881 British Census


 Name RelationMarital
 David GRIMSHAW  Head  M  Male  38  Sheffield, York, England  Sharebrokers
 Emma GRIMSHAW  Wife  M  Female  35  Huddersfield, York, England     
 Minnie GRIMSHAW  Daur    Female  13  Leeds, York, England  Scholar   
 Percy Hall GRIMSHAW  Son    Male  11  Leeds, York, England  Scholar   
 Ada GRIMSHAW  Daur    Female  10  Leeds, York, England  Scholar   
 Bertha GRIMSHAW  Daur    Female  7  Leeds, York, England  Scholar   
 Edith GRIMSHAW  Daur    Female  4  Leeds, York, England  Scholar   
 Lucy GRIMSHAW  Daur    Female  1  Leeds, York, England  Scholar   
 Anne Elizath. HALL  Wifes Sister  U  Female  37  Barnsley, York, England     

Source Information:

 Dwelling  Buckingham Mt
 Census PlaceHeadingley Cum Burley, York, England
 Family History Library Film  1342092
 Public Records Office Reference  RG11
 Piece / Folio  4538 / 48
 Page Number  15


The location of Headingly Cum Burley, where Percy Grimshaw was living at the time of the 1881 British Census, is shown in the maps below at three scales. It is in the northwest part of Leeds, not far from Rawdon, the point of origin of the Edward and Dorothy Grimshaw family line.

Obituaries of Percy Grimshaw

A number of obituaries were prepared for Percy after he died in 1939. Most of them are shown below with the publication where they were recorded.

North Western Naturalist1 (Text and image)


Percy Hall Grimshaw, I.S.O., F.R.S.E., F.R.E.S.

(With Portrait, Plate 15).

Yorkshire has made many contributions to the company of amateur naturalists for which Britain is justly renowned, and ranking high amongst them must be reckoned Percy Hall Grimshaw, who, beginning as an amateur botanist, rose to become Keeper of the Natural History Department of The Royal Scottish Museum.

Born in Leeds in 1869 and educated in that town, always a centre of naturalist activity, Mr. Grimshaw early showed special knowledge of the botany of the district, and while serving in a Savings Bank became assistant secretary and librarian of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union. The direction of his life’s work was determined as he would have wished when, in 1893, he forsook the desk to fill a post in the great Government museum in Edinburgh. There by steady effort he rose from post to post in the Natural History Department until in 1930 lie was appointed Keeper, and in that capacity lie served until his retiral in 1935.

In the Museum his early colleagues were Dr IL. H. Traquair and Dr Eagle Clarke, a Leeds man like himself, and since their interests were amongst the Vertebrates, Mr. Grimshaw turned to the lower animals and particularly the insects. He built up representative exhibits of British and foreign insects, brought order into the vast cabinet collections in the Museum, and as museum interests gradually broadened be finally supervised the creation of a remarkable addition to the educational facilities of Edinburgh – the ” Children’s Gallery,” which is a model of its kind. His museum work throughout was characterised by minute accuracy and attention to detail.

During his forty odd years of museum service he found time to carry out the study of Scottish insects in the field and laboratory. His collecting expeditions tool; him to many parts of the mainland and to the outlying islands, with the result that his papers upon Scottish Diptera, and especially upon the Family Anthomyidae, added vastly to the know-]edge of that section of the fauna of Scotland, of which he became the outstanding expert. For many years he edited and assisted in editing The Scottish Naturalist, and the great atlas of the distribution of animals which he compiled with the late Air Bartholomew and Dr Eagle.




Clarke has since its appearance in 1911 remained a standard work on zoogeography.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Scotland, of the Royal Entomological Society, a Vice-President of the Royal Physical Society, and ill 1924 was elected President of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union. In 1933 his services received public recognition when he was created Companion of the Imperial Service Order. Outwith his scientific interests Mr. Grimshaw retained a keen love of music and remained an accomplished pianist. He died suddenly in Edinburgh, still full of vigour, on November 14, 1939, and is survived by a widow and daughter, to whom his fellow naturalists express their deep sympathy.


Nature6, 1939 (v 144, no 3659, p 1004) (Text and Image)

Mr. P. H. Grimshaw, I.S.O.

Percy Hall Grimshaw found the bent of his life when in 1895 he forsook a clerk’s stool in a bank in Leeds to fill a post in the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. His earlier interests had been botanical, but the chance that, of his colleagues in the Natural History Department, Dr. R. H. Traquair was particularly interested in fossil fishes and Dr. Eagle Clarke in birds and mammals, turned his attention to the lower forms of animal life, and he singled out for investigation the insects and particularly the Diptera. His papers, mostly published in the Annals of Scottish Natural History and its successor the Scottish Naturalist, which for many years he assisted in editing, added greatly to the knowledge of the distribution of insects in Scotland, and he travelled widely on the mainland and in the outer islands to collect material for his “Diptera Scotica” and other contributions.

One of his interesting discoveries was the presence in Great Britain of a bot-fly (Cephanomyia rufibarbis) parasitic on red-deer, and his study of the life-history of the destructive heather-beetle (Lochmaea suturalis), made in connexion with the Committee of Inquiry on Grouse Disease, suggested the few measures of control which seem to be possible.

When he was appointed keeper of the Natural History Department of the Royal Scottish Museum in 1930, Grimshaw continued the development of the educational appeal of the exhibits, and under his supervision was created a Children’s Gallery which for the attractiveness and suggestiveness of its collections would be difficult to beat.

On his retiral from the keepership in 1935 he was decorated with the Imperial Service Order. He died suddenly on November 14, at the age of sixty-nine years.

James Ritchie.

Who Was Who7, 1978

Smart Bibliography2 (also shown in the images above)


By John Smart, Ph.D.

The Late Percy H. Grimshaw was born at Leeds on 14th April, 1869. He joined the staff of the Royal Scottish Museum in 1893 and was Keeper of the Department of Natural History from 1930 until he retired in 1935. He died on 14th November, 1939.

His bibliography runs to 89 titles, the majority of which were published in the Scottish Naturalist, of which journal he was joint editor from 1912 to 1939. His main interest was the systematics of the Anthomyiidae but it will be seen from the titles given here that his interests ranged far beyond this group. An obituary notice appeared in 1939, Nature 144 ; 1004 (by James Ritchie). Another, with a portrait, appeared in 1939, North-West. Nat. 14: 290. There is also a notice in 1941, Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinb. 60:; 392-393.

Hypothesized Ancestry of Percy Grimshaw

Percy Grimshaw was apparently descended Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw family line, as he was born just a short distance from Rawden, where the line originated. Examination of the descendant charts of Edward and Dorothy Grimshaw has yielded an excellent candidate for Percy’s father, David Grimshaw. The descendant chart is shown below, with David shown in bold and the hypothesized family members shown in italics.

Although this assignment is just a hypothesis, it appears that this David is the right age to be Percy’s father. The Census of 1881 (shown above) indicates Percy’s father was age 38; i.e., born in 1843 as is the David shown in the ancestry chart below. No other Davids were found on the Edward and Dorothy Grimshaw webpage that are anywhere near the correct age.

If this hypothesis is correct, then David is the brother of Atkinson Grimshaw, the noted painter (described on a companion webpage). Atkinson would then have been Percy Grimshaw’s uncle.

Edward Grimshaw (About 1559 – 22 Jun 1635) & Dorotye Raner

|–Abraham Grimshaw (1603 – 1670) & Sarah ( – 21 Sep 1695)

|–|–JeremyJeremiah Grimshaw* (21 Jul 1653 – 12 Aug 1721) & Mary Stockton ( – 6 Jan 1692/1693)

|–|–|–Joshua Grimshaw (12 Apr 1687 – 8 Jan 1764) & Jane Oddy (1686 – 1771)

|–|–|–|–Mary Grimshaw (15 Aug 1711 – 20 Feb 1712/1713)

|–|–|–|–Joshua Grimshaw (24 Aug 1714 – 10 Jul 1718)

|–|–|–|–Jane Grimshaw (1715 – )

|–|–|–|–Sarah Grimshaw (25 Mar 1716 – )

|–|–|–|–Jeremiah Grimshaw (10 Oct 1717 – )

|–|–|–|–Joshua Grimshaw (22 Jun 1719 – )

|–|–|–|–William Grimshaw (17 Jun 1721 – )

|–|–|–|–John Grimshaw (5 Dec 1723 – ) & Hannah Fieldhouse

|–|–|–|–|–John Grimshaw (20 Jan 1760 – )

|–|–|–|–|–Mary Grimshaw (27 Sep 1761 – 5 Jul 1784)

|–|–|–|–|–William Grimshaw* (1764 – 5 Sep 1829) & Ann Grainger (1768 – 1805)

|–|–|–|–|–|–Jonathan Grimshaw (20 Jul 1784 – ) & Sarah Pickersgill

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–John Grimshaw (9 Dec 1808 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–David Grimshaw (11 Apr 1811 – ) & Mary Atkinson (About 1811 – 19 Apr 1889). Married 7 Nov 1835, St Peter, Leeds.

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–John Atkinson Grimshaw (6 Sep 1836 – 31 Oct 1893) & FrancisTheodosia Hubbarde

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Jonathon Grimshaw (16 Feb 1841 – 6 Aug 1920) & Mary Clayton

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–David Grimshaw (24 Mar 1843 – ) & Emma Hall

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|– Minnie Grimshaw (ca 1868 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|– Percy Hall Grimshaw (14 Apr 1869, Leeds – 14 Nov 1939) & Jeanie Blair White

|–Unknown daughter

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|– Ada Grimshaw (ca 1871 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|– Bertha Grimshaw (ca 1874 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|– Edith Grimshaw (ca 1877 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|– Lucy Grimshaw (ca 1880 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Richard Atkinson Grimshaw (1846 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Josiah Grimshaw (23 Sep 1848 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Mary Priscilla Grimshaw (27 Nov 1851 – ) & Thomas William Crisp

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Theodosia Grimshaw (3 Jul 1814 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Sarah Grimshaw (31 Dec 1815 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Jonathan Grimshaw (24 Jan 1818 – )

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–Josiah Grimshaw (9 Dec 1819 – 14 Aug 1870) & Sarah Clark (About 1825 – )


1Ritchie, James, 1939, Obituary. Percy Hall Grimshaw, I.S.O., F.R.S.E., F.R.E.S. (with Portrait, Plate 15): North Western Naturalist, v. 14, p. 290-291.

2Smart, John, 1945, Bibliography of Percy H. Grimshaw, 1869-1939: Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, v 2, p. 39-42.

3Bartholomew, John G., W. Eagle Clarke and Percy H. Grimshaw, 1911, Zoogeography. Volume 5 of Physical Atlas: J.G. Bartholomew, ed. Edinburgh, John Bartholomew & Co., 67 pp + 36 plates.

4Mudge, Isadore Gilbert, 1917, Guide to the Study and Use of Reference Books: Chicago, American Library Association Publishing Board, p. 93.

5Grimshaw, Percy, 1901, “Diptera” in Sharp, David, ed., Fauna Hawaiiensis; Being the Land-Fauna of the Hawaiian Islands, v. 3, part 1:  Cambridge, England, The University Press (volumes published 1899-1913).

Issued in parts, 1899-1910, each part with special t.-p.: Fauna hawaiiensis; or, The zoology of the Sandwich (Hawaiian) isles: being results of the explorations instituted by the joint committee appointed by the Royal society of London for promoting natural knowledge and the British association for the advancement of science, and carried on with the assistance of those bodies and of the trustees of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop museum at Honolulu. Ed. by David Sharp.

6Ritchie, James, 1939, Obituaries – Mr. P.H. Grimshaw, I.S.O.: Nature, v. 144, no. 3659 (16 December 1939), p. 1004.

7Author Unknown, 1978, (Obituary of) Grimshaw, Percy Hall, ISO, FRSE, FRES, in Who Was Who among English and European Authors, 1931-1949: Detroit, Gale Research, 3 v, p. 609.

Webpage History

Webpage initially posted October 2007. Finalized November 2007.