Eleanor Glanville [née Goodricke; other married name Ashfield], (1654–1709), entomologist, was the elder of the two daughters of Major William Goodricke (d. 1666) and his wife, the widow Eleanor Poyntz, née Davis (1617–1657). Her father left £1000 to Mary, his younger daughter, and to Eleanor the estates which her mother had brought to the marriage in 1652. Thus, Eleanor found herself a very rich woman in her own right having inherited several properties, including Tickenham Court in Somerset where she established her home. On 14th  April 1676 she married Edmund Ashfield (d. 1679), an artist from Lincolnshire, with whom she had three children, Forest Edmund (b. 1677) and in 1678 twins, Mary (d. 1730), and Katherine, who died at birth. Following the death of her first husband, she married Richard Glanville (b. 1664) in November 1685. Four more children were born; two died in infancy but were survived by Richard (b. 1687) and Eleanor (b. 1688). Glanville proved to be a violent husband and by 1698 the marriage had failed. He began desperately trying to lay hands on Eleanor's fortune, circulating stories of her madness and forcing her children to sign affidavits against their mother, but his bid was unsuccessful; Eleanor had shrewdly turned over her properties to trustees while retaining the right to direct her own affairs. Problems with her husband and children seem to have encouraged stories in the local neighbourhood of her insanity, or at least eccentricity, not helped by her interest in collecting butterflies (a practice thought to be odd.)

Eleanor had begun her interest in butterfly collecting at an early age, but started to make a serious collection soon after separation from her husband. Collecting insects became an obsession and she paid her servants to collect for her. She taught them how to pack specimens in folded papers and to preserve and transport them safely back to her. Eleanor's payments were generous, as long as the specimens were handed over in perfect condition—6d. per specimen in most cases, but for a special butterfly and caterpillar even 1s.

Eleanor became a correspondent of James Petiver (1660–1718), a London apothecary, naturalist, and insect collector, Joseph Dandridge (c.1664–1718), silk-screen printer and owner of one of the finest butterfly collections of the time, and the botanist Adam Buddle (bap. 1662, d. 1715), whom she described as a cousin. They introduced her to other naturalists with whom she exchanged information. Petiver used many of her specimens and information received from her in his great work Gazophylacium naturae artis (1703). He described Callophrys rubi (hairstreak butterfly) from her specimens and gives her credit in his text. Many of her butterflies and moths provided new records for Britain, including the now famous Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia). The common name was first given to the species by James Dutfield in A New and Complete Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies (1748–9). Eleanor Glanville published nothing, but the earliest record of a local list of insects, made by E. Glanville on the insects of the Bristol area, may be from her hand. When she went to London in 1703 taking with her a large collection of butterflies her visit caused some excitement among naturalists in the capital. A few of her specimens exist in the Natural History Museum, as part of the Petiver collection.

No doubt her husband's behaviour and that of her children drove Eleanor to distraction. She bequeathed her estate to her second cousin Sir Henry
Goodricke, except for some small legacies to her children. Her estates were left in the hands of her trustees, and there were legacies for her trustees and her executor. Her son Forest contested the will, mainly on the grounds of his mother's lunacy; in 1712 he won his case and the will was set aside. Eleanor Glanville died in the early part of 1709 at Tickenham Court; the exact date of death is not known.


W. S. Bristowe, ‘The life of a distinguished woman naturalist, Eleanor Glanville, c.1654–1708’, Entomologist's Gazette, 18 (1967), 202–11 · R. S. Wilkinson, ‘Elizabeth Glanville, an early English entomologist’, Entomologist's Gazette, 17 (1966), 149–60 · W. S. Bristowe, ‘More about Eleanor Glanville, 1654–1708’, Entomologist's Gazette, 26 (1975), 107–17 · BL, Sloane MSS, 4063, fol. 188; 4066, fol. 349; 3324, fol. 90, 17–20 · PRO, will, PROB 11/506 sig. 3 · C. A. Goodricke, ed., History of the Goodricke family (1885) · PRO, C 5 342/2