Thomas Workman (entomologist)

Last updated

Thomas Workman (18431900) was an Irish entomologist and arachnologist who travelled widely collecting butterflies and studying spiders. He is best known for his book Malaysian Spiders, published in 1896, in which he described several new species.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.



Thomas Workman was born at Ceara, Windsor Avenue, Belfast, Ireland on 14 August 1843 into a wealthy family involved in muslin, linen and commerce. He became a successful businessman, at first in the linen trade and then in shipbuilding. He was the elder brother of Frank Workman, born in 1856, who founded the Belfast shipyard of Workman Clark in 1879.

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is a port city in the United Kingdom and the capital city of Northern Ireland, on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second largest on the island of Ireland. It had a population of 333,871 in 2015.

Commerce relates to "the exchange of goods and services, especially on a large scale." It includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural and technological systems that operate in a country or in international trade.


In the years 1869 and 1870 Workman travelled in North America spending his time mainly in the West, much with native tribes. His trip journals and accounts of the natural history of the American plains and Native Americans are now in the Public Records Office in Belfast. His collection of North American Indian artefacts is in the Ulster Museum. Each year, when business and family permitted, Workman spent lengthy periods in foreign lands, collecting insects, especially butterflies and spiders. His ethnographic collections are in the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central, and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Great Plains broad expanse of flat land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada

The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. It embraces:

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

His most significant trips were

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Brazil borders every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew.


Workman was, as well as being actively involved in the civic administration of Belfast, the Honorary Librarian of the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society becoming president in 1898. He died in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A in 1900, having caught a chill en route from Vancouver following a trip to the Rocky Mountains.

Librarian person who works professionally in a library, and is usually trained in librarianship

A librarian is a person who works professionally in a library, providing access to information and sometimes social or technical programming to users. In addition, librarians provide instruction on information literacy.

Vancouver City in British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city, up from 603,502 in 2011. The Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 in 2016, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada with over 5,400 people per square kilometre, which makes it the fifth-most densely populated city with over 250,000 residents in North America behind New York City, Guadalajara, San Francisco, and Mexico City according to the 2011 census. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada according to that census; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. Roughly 30% of the city's inhabitants are of Chinese heritage. Vancouver is classed as a Beta global city.

Rocky Mountains mountain range in North America

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 4,800 kilometers (3,000 mi) from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico in the Southwestern United States. Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west.


Aside from his work on spiders, especially those of the Far East, Workman was a considerable lepidopterist collecting for Adalbert Seitz and Lionel Walter Rothschild among others. Some of his specimens are figured and noted without attribution in Seitz' monumental Macrolepidoptera of the World. A systematic description of the hitherto known Macrolepidoptera, edited in collaboration with well-known specialists published in Stuttgart by Alfred Kermen.

Far East geographical term

The Far East is a geographical term in English that usually refers to East Asia, the Russian Far East, and Southeast Asia. South Asia is sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons. The term "Far East" came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 12th century, denoting the Far East as the "farthest" of the three "easts", beyond the Near East and the Middle East. Likewise, in Qing Dynasty of the 19th and early 20th centuries the term "Tàixī (泰西)" – i.e. anything further west than the Arab world – was used to refer to the Western countries.

Lepidoptera Order of insects including moths and butterflies

Lepidoptera is an order of insects that includes butterflies and moths. About 180,000 species of the Lepidoptera are described, in 126 families and 46 superfamilies, 10 per cent of the total described species of living organisms. It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world. The Lepidoptera show many variations of the basic body structure that have evolved to gain advantages in lifestyle and distribution. Recent estimates suggest the order may have more species than earlier thought, and is among the four most speciose orders, along with the Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Coleoptera.

Adalbert Seitz German entomologist

Adalbert Seitz, full name Friedrich Joseph Adalbert Seitz, was a German entomologist who specialised in Lepidoptera.


Spiders named after Workman

Phidippus workmania a species named for Workman Phidippus workmani rampant.jpg
Phidippus workmania a species named for Workman

Published work



Workman's correspondence, diaries etc. are in the Public records Office Belfast

Related Research Articles

Ulster Museum part of the National Museum of Northern Ireland

The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial archaeology, botany, zoology and geology. It is the largest museum in Northern Ireland, and one of the components of National Museums Northern Ireland.

Robert Templeton Irish entomologist

Robert Templeton was a naturalist, artist, and entomologist, and was born at Cranmore House, Belfast, Ireland.

Belfast Natural History Society

The Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society was founded in 1821 to promote the scientific study of animals, plants, fossils, rocks and minerals.

Embrik Strand was an entomologist and arachnologist who classified many insect and spider species including the greenbottle blue tarantula.

Otto Staudinger German lepidopterist

Otto Staudinger was a German entomologist and a natural history dealer considered one of the largest in the world specialising in the collection and sale of insects to museums, scientific institutions, and individuals.

Lionel de Nicéville British entomologist

Charles Lionel Augustus de Nicéville was a curator at the Indian Museum in Calcutta. He studied the butterflies of the Indian Subcontinent and wrote a three volume monograph on the butterflies of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma and Sri Lanka.

Philip Perceval Graves was an Irish journalist and writer. While working as a foreign correspondent of The Times in Constantinople, he exposed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an antisemitic plagiarism, fraud and hoax.

<i>Graphium doson</i> species of insect

Graphium doson, the common jay, is a black, tropical papilionid (swallowtail) butterfly with pale blue semi-transparent central wing bands that are formed by large spots. There is a marginal series of smaller spots. The underside of wings is brown with markings similar to upperside but whitish in colour. The sexes look alike. The species was first described by father and son entomologists Cajetan and Rudolf Felder.

Per Olof Christopher Aurivillius Swedish entomologist

Per Olof Christopher Aurivillius was a Swedish entomologist.

William Monod Crawford Irish entomologist (1872-1941)

William Monod Crawford (1872–1941) was an Irish colonial civil servant in India and an entomologist.

Charles Thomas Bingham Irish entomologist (1848–1908)

Charles Thomas Bingham was an Irish military officer and entomologist.

James John Joicey British entomologist

James John Joicey was an amateur entomologist who assembled a massive collection of Lepidoptera in a private museum called the Hill Museum.

Hans Fruhstorfer German entomologist

Hans Fruhstorfer was a German explorer, insect trader and entomologist who specialised in Lepidoptera. He collected and described new species of exotic butterflies, especially in Adalbert Seitz's Macrolepidoptera of the World. He is best known for his work on the butterflies of Java.

Charles de Worms Chemist and Lepidopterist

Baron Charles George Maurice de Worms (1903–1979) was an English chemist and lepidopterist.

Max Wilhelm Karl Draudt German entomologist

Max Wilhelm Karl Draudt was a German entomologist, who specialised in Lepidoptera.

John Hartley Durrant was an English entomologist who specialised in Lepidoptera.

Lepidopterology scientific study of moths and butterflies

Lepidopterology, is a branch of entomology concerning the scientific study of moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies. Someone that studies in this field is a lepidopterist or, archaically, an aurelian.

Sir Robert Lloyd Patterson (1836–1906) was an Irish naturalist and linen merchant.