DISTANT, William Lucas 1845-1922. Naturalist. The son of a whaling captain, he worked as a leather merchant and became interested in natural history following a trip to the Malay Peninsula to visit his older brother, leading to him publishing Rhopalocera Malayana, an account of the butterflies of the Malay Peninsula. In 1873 he married doctor’s daughter Edith Blanche de Rubain, born in Switzerland, and they had seven sons and four daughters. They lived in Idmiston Road, West Dulwich (then known as Buccleuch Road) and Derwent Grove, East Dulwich from around 1875 to around 1883. His work took him to the Transvaal which led to the publication of A Naturalist in the Transvaal in 1892 and four years later he published Insecta Transvaaliensia based on his large collection of insects. In 1897 became editor of The Zoologist and from 1899 to 1920 was employed by the Natural History Museum, devoting most of his time to the Rhynchota (true bugs).
His other works included Volume I of the Heteroptera and part of Volume I of the Homoptera of the Biologia Centrali-Americana, and the Hemiptera volumes of The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. In 1920 the Natural History Museum bought his collection of 50,000 specimens. He died in Wanstead in 1922. He is commemorated in the scientific names of Distantiella, a genus of mirid bugs and Leptotyphlops distanti, a species of snake.