Talk:Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leach, William Elford
The DNB article for 'Leach, William Elford' should be read with certain reservations.
The year of birth given (and widely reported elsewhere in the literature), 1790, is incorrect. Leach was born 2 February 1791 as indicated on his tombstone, which was erected by his sister Jane. [Ref. 1, p. 482] [Ref. 2]
The DNB incorrectly says Leach graduated M.D. from the University of Edinburgh. He studied medicine and natural history at the University of Edinburgh but he graduated M.D. from the University of St Andrews. [Ref. 1, pp. 135-137]
The DNB says he was appointed as an Assistant Librarian at the British Museum (which is correct) "and had risen by 1821 to be assistant keeper". At that time all British Museum officers formally bore the title 'Librarian' regardless of their duties. This was a legacy of the museum's origins as primarily a collection of libraries together with the natural history collections of Sir Hans Sloane. As an Assistant Librarian in the Natural History department Leach was also known as the Assistant Keeper in that department from the date of his appointment. There was no rising and he never worked in a library. [Ref. 1, pp. 250-252]
The place of death given in the DNB, "the Palazzo St. Sebastiano, near Tortona" is confused and should read, 'the Palazzo of the Ferraris in San Sebastiano Curone, near Tortona'. [Ref. 2]
[Ref. 1] Keith Harrison & Eric Smith (2008) Rifle-Green by Nature: A Regency Naturalist and his Family, William Elford Leach. London: The Ray Society. ISBN978-0-9-03874-35-9.
[Ref. 2] E. Zavattari (1959) La Tomba di William Elford Leach in S. Sebastiano Curone (Alessandria). Natura, Milano, 50(2): 33-42.