Lefroy’s inscription

Following on from the post about Hugh Miller and his sad demise, I came across another interesting death relating to a book we have recently received.  The Crayfish: an introduction to the study of zoology by T.H. Huxley (STORE 150:13) has just been transferred to us from the Medical Library and has the following inscription on the title page: H. Maxwell-Lefroy. King’s College. Cambridge. Feb 1896. After typing his name into a well known search engine and looking at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to see if he is worthy of a mention on the catalogue record, I discovered that he died after accidently gassing himself with an insecticide he was working on. Harold Maxwell-Lefroy (1877-1925) was an entomologist who spent time in India working for the Imperial Department of Agriculture and serving as Imperial Entomologist investigating insects and their impact on agricultural crops. He moved back to England to take up a post at Imperial College and in 1925 he set up Rentokil. Sadly this was also to be the year of his death. He was found unconscious in his laboratory on 10th October and died on 14th October never regaining consciousness. The inquest noted that he had chronic toxaemia (blood poisoning) due to ‘repeated inhalation of poisonous vapours’ and that ‘…[he] was a brilliant research worker who had lost his life in trying to benefit the human race’.  The book itself has some nice illustrations of crayfish, like the one on below.

One of the books illustrations