Richard Francis Lingen Burton, 1865–1922.
Richard Francis Lingen Burton, of Longner, died on the 7th January, 1922, after a lingering illness, aged fifty-seven. He was educated at Eton, Sandhurst, and Cirencester. He came to New Zealand in 1881 with his cousin, Mr. Pryce (Halcombe, N.Z.), to learn farming, and was for a time on one of Mr. Riddiford's stations, afterwards taking up land at Apiti. From here he explored the Ruahine Range. He also spent some time in Westland. Afterwards he visited New Guinea, and this brought him into association with Captain C. A. W. Monckton, who dedicated one of his books to Burton, describing him as “a crack shot, a fine boxer and fencer, afraid of nothing that either walked, flew, or swam, and crammed with a vast lore of out-of-the-way knowledge.”
On succeeding to the family estates in 1902 he settled down to the life of an English squire and the management of one of the most ancient estates in Britain—for Longner Hall, Salop, is mentioned in Domesday. The management of his 3,000 Shropshire acres and his New Zealand run occupied much of his time, but he also found time to act on public bodies and carry out most painstaking observations on the insect-life of Shropshire, and the cultivation of many New Zealand plants, including orchids, from seed.
The publication of his observations has chiefly devolved on others. Theobald's Monograph of the Culicidae devotes several pages to Burton's observations on British mosquitoes, and he was of considerable assistance to the English authorities in their war-time studies on malarial mosquitoes. The Entomologist (June, 1922) states that he aided much in the compilation of the preliminary catalogue of English Diptera. The Orchid Review (April, 1922) stated that he was highly successful in the cultivation of British orchids. Much of his mosquito work has been published in Government Public Health Reports and in W. D. Lang's Handbook (1920; British Museum). To Shakespearian students he will be remembered as the discoverer of the Burton Shakespeare, containing the only perfect copy known of the 1599 edition of “Venus and Adonis,” and the “Lucrece” of 1600, of which the only other perfect copy is in the Bodleian.
Burton had a charming personality, quick, nervous, and energetic, but unassuming, which endeared him to his friends. A tall, lean, blonde type of Englishman, he reminded you of an ancient Viking.
He was a most conscientious recorder of all natural phenomena which interested him, and it is to be hoped that his notebooks dealing with the cultivation of New Zealand plants may be examined and the observations published. He married in 1902 Miss Alice Mendelson, of Temuka. He is survived by his widow, a son, and several daughters. He was a life-member of the Wellington Philosophical Society.
B. C. Aston