The Rothschild Cockayne Kettlewell Collection

This superb collection was formed in 1947 with the amalgamation of the Rothschild British and Irish butterfly and moth collection and the important and extensive combined collections of Drs EA Cockayne and HBD Kettlewell.

The collection comprised about 5000 drawers of British and Irish butterflies and larger moths arranged to display variation in all its forms.

Originally housed at Tring Museum, the collection was moved to the Entomology Department of the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, London, in 1969.

Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937)

Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937)

Lionel Walter Rothschild 


Lord Rothschild built a private museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, to house his zoological collections, which, from the outset, were very rich in Lepidoptera.

On his death, his Museum and outstanding collections were left to the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, then titled the British Museum (Natural History). 

At that time, his worldwide Lepidoptera collection was estimated to contain two and a half million specimens. Today, the Natural History Museum at Tring is still an important outstation of the Museum.

Edward Alfred Cockayne (1880-1956)

Edward Alfred Cockayne (1880-1956)

Edward Alfred Cockayne 


By profession a physician, Dr Cockayne was an enthusiastic amateur lepidopterist throughout his life and published more than 200 papers and notes in entomological journals.

He described and named many varieties of British Lepidoptera. 

His particular interests lay in the study of life histories, variation and genetics and in the interpretation of genetic abnormalities.

In 1951 he set up the Cockayne Trust which now supports this website.

Henry Bernard Davis Kettlewell (1907-1979)

Henry Bernard Davis Kettlewell (1907-1979)

Henry Bernard Davis Kettlewell 


A keen amateur entomologist and former doctor, Dr Kettlewell emigrated from England to South Africa to carry out research at the International Locust Control Centre.

Later he was appointed to a senior research fellowship at Oxford and it was there that he carried out his famous studies on industrial melanism in the peppered moth.

He actively supported the Cockayne Trust and was a member of its Committee.

Digitising the collection

Find out more about our iCollections project to digitise the Rothschild Cockayne Kettlewell Collection.