He also wrote a very interesting little book called Larval Food plants giving instructions to collectors who wish to raise adult moths and butterflies from eggs and larvae, this book gives us an insight into his wide and varied knowledge of the subject. Interestingly, he also wrote under two pseudonyms- Alban M. Phillip -The prison breakers - a book of escapes from captivity and as Francis Cabochon - The Golden Ladies of Pamplona (which is where they run the bulls through the streets).
Reading through the early Minutes Books you get the distinct impression that the early Society was run very much along public school club lines. All references to individuals are by surname and you had to be proposed before you could be considered for membership. The whole tone is of a Victorian gentleman’s club where the main emphasis was on acquisition and collection of moths and butterflies.
Having said this, in his inaugural address, which you can read elsewhere, PBM encouraged members to record as much as possible about the natural history of our home area which is something which hopefully we are continuing to do today. ‘Home Area’ was described as a 15 mile radius of the Corn Exchange in the centre of Bishops Stortford.
PBM seems to have disappeared from the scene in the late 1940s, the rules, which were taken very seriously would have decreed that an individual can only hold a post for a fixed number of period, it is also possible that by that time PBM had moved away possibly to Shropshire where the very few distant, living relatives are today. There is a seat with an inscribed memorial plate to PBM in the grounds of Rhodes Museum.
The only person alive today who knew PBM is Geoffrey Sell who met him in Hatfield Forest in the 1940s when he was butterfly collecting. The resulting conversation between the two (PBM was collecting flies) resulted in Geoffrey joining the Society.
Geoffrey’s account of the meeting can be read in his letter. A full account of PBM’s biography can be read in his Obituary written by his son Ian Allan who incidentally did not follow the Natural History interest but went down the artistic route instead, living at Hadham Cross for many years, he took a continuing to take an interest in the society, helping us out financially on one occasion, until his death a few years ago.
PBM lived at 4, Wind Hill, Bishops Stortford. He was both author and publisher, he is best known for his books on entomology which include Talking of Moths, A Moth Hunters Gossip, Leaves from a Moth Hunters Notebook and Moths and Memories. These books are typical of the age and contain little or no illustration, however, they do make very interesting reading written as they are in a humorous tone.
Dedication inside ‘Talking of Moths’
|Old Woman's Weaver|
|Pishiobury Park Bats|
|Forest Bird Watch|
|Breeding birds survey 2015|
|Over the Farm Gate|
|Records & sightings|