Second Lieutenant, Royal Garrison Artillery, formerly Private, 14th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Died of illness on Sunday 26th December 1915, age 36.

Remembered on the Brookwood Memorial, Surrey, UK.

Former demonstrator in Zoology.



Arthur was born on 14th February 1879 to Samuel Dukinfield Darbishire, an Oxford doctor and his wife Florence. His uncle Robert Darbishire was a prominent Manchester solicitor who donated many ceramic artifacts and carvings to the Manchester Museum.

In childhood Arthur suffered from rhuematic fever leaving him with some permanent damage to his heart. He was educated at Magdelen College School and Balliol College, Oxford. After graduating in in Natural Sciences and Zoology he stayed on as a demonstrator.

At Oxford Arthur had began a series of breeding experiments with Mice that he continued at Manchester University while employed as a demonstrator in Zoology (1903-05). A critic of the Mendel theory and enthusiast of the biometrical approach he published a number of papers, but ultimately, concluded that the two schools were not incompatible, merely that conflict and contradiction was caused by a difference of point of view with which each approached the same facts. He cut himself adrift of both at a meeting of the British Association in 1904 and with two papers he contributed to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1905/06. After this Arthur moved to the Royal College of Science conducting experiments with mice, peas, fowls and rabbits. His 1912 book called Breeding and the Mendelian Discovery, was his clearest embodiment of his thoughts on the problems of heredity. In 1911 Arthur took up a newly created post of Lecturer in Genetics at Edinburgh University.

When war broke out Arthur was lecturing to the Graduate School of Agriculture at Colombia, Missouri and had been offered professorships at two American universities. However, Arthur felt he had to return to England and do his bit to help the country in the war. He was declared unfit for the Army so trained for munitions work at Edinburgh Engineering College. Finding it difficult to get suitable employment in July 1915 he managed to enroll as a private in the 14th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. On Christmas Day 1915 he was taken ill with cerebral meningitis while in camp at Gailes, Ayrshire and died on Boxing Day morning. On 28th December 1915 he was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrision Artillery.

Arthur’s sister, Helen, wrote a preface Arthur’s posthumous book  An Introduction to Biology and other papers (1917) in which she described her brother’s character in great detail. He was a man with a childlike fascination with life, devoid of arrogance, malice or meanness and possessed an untiring patience. He was a meticulous recorder of results, had an absolutely dispassionate attitude as a scientific investigator and was a popular teacher. Other interests included gardening, farming and music. He did enjoy playing jests on his colleagues and friends. Helen inherited Arthur’s effects which were worth £3097 19s 9d.

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