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Biographical entry Masters, George (1837 - 1912)

July 1837
Maidstone, Kent, England
23 June 1912
Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia


George Masters was an entomologist and a prolific collector of natural history specimens of all kinds. In the course of his many collecting expeditions through Australia he developed an unrivalled knowledge of the life histories of Australian animals. By 1860 he was employed as a gardener at Thomas Shepherd's Darling Nursery in Sydney. In the early 1860s he was sent to Queensland by William Macleay to collect insects, an association that lasted for the rest of his life. For ten years from 1864 Masters was Assistant Curator and Collector at the Australian Museum where, despite an undertaking to the contrary, he continued to collect for himself and Macleay as well as the Museum. In 1874 Masters became curator of Macleay's own collection, and remained so after Macleay's death and the transfer of the collections to the University of Sydney. Masters' principal publications were Catalogue of the described diurnal Lepidoptera of Australia (1873), the first book entirely devoted to Australian butterflies, and Catalogue of the described Coleoptera of Australia (1871 - 1874)



c. 1856
Life event - Migrated to Australia
1864 - 1874
Career position - Assistant Curator and Collector, Australian Museum, Sydney
1874 - 1912
Career position - Curator of Macleay natural history collections

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

The Linnean Society of New South Wales

  • George Masters - Records, 1874 - 1912; The Linnean Society of New South Wales. Details

Published resources


  • Musgrave, A., Bibliography of Australian Entomology, 1775-1930, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales., Sydney, 1932, 380 pp. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Whitley, G. P., 'George Masters, Naturalist', Australian Zoologist, vol. 16, no. 2, 1971, pp. 25-32. Details


McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn