Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/McLachlan, Robert
McLACHLAN, ROBERT (1837–1904), entomologist, born at 17 Upper East Smithfield, London, on 10 April 1837, was one of five children of Hugh McLachlan, ship-chandler (d. 1855), a native of Greenock, who settled in London in early life, living at the close of his life near Hainault Forest.
Possessed of private means, McLachlan, in 1855, when eighteen years old, made a voyage to Australia and China, where he collected much botanical material, which Robert Brown, keeper of the botanical department of the British Museum, subsequently examined. His interests soon centred on entomology, and, prompted by the writings of Hagen, he commenced the work of elucidating the families of British and foreign Neuroptora, his first paper on the order appearing in the 'Entomologist's Annual' (1861). This was followed by various important monographs. His 'Catalogue of British Neuroptera' was published by the Entomological Society in 1870. Meanwhile, as a zealous collector, he had brought together an unequalled series of specimens and maintained a voluminous correspondence at home and abroad relating to the study. His chief independent publication was 'A Monographic Revision and Synopsis of the Trichoptera [caddis-flies] of the European Fauna' (1874–84), a great work which was illustrated by his own detailed drawings, made under the camera lucida. For the ' Encyclopædia Britannica,' 9th edition, he wrote the article 'Insects.'
McLachlan was a member of many English and foreign scientific societies. He was elected F.R.S. on 7 June 1877 (being supported by Charles Darwin and George Bentham), and gave valued honorary assist- ance for several years in the editing of the society's 'Catalogue of Scientific Papers.' He successively filled the offices of secretary of the Entomological Society (1868–72) and treasurer (1873-5, 1891-4), serving as president (1885–6.) On the establishment of the 'Entomological Monthly Magazine' (1864) he acted as an editor, eventually (1902) becoming proprietor, without relinquishing editorial work. He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1862, and served on the council (1879–83). McLachlan, who was unmarried, died on 23 May 1904, at his home at Lewisham, and was buried in Tower Hamlets cemetery, London.
[Proc. Roy. See, vol. lxxv., and Catal. Sci. Papers; Trans. Entomol. Sec, 1904, Presidential Address; Proc. Entomol. Soc, 1886, Presidential Address; Entomol. Month. Mag. July 1904; Entomological News, Sept. 1904; Proc. Linn. Soc., 1905; Proc. Roy. Hort. Soc. vol. xxix.; Nature, 2 June 1904.]