John Lubbock Avebury, 1st Baron (1834- ), English banker, politician and naturalist, was born in London on the 30th of April 1834, the son of Sir John William Lubbock, 3rd baronet, himself a highly distinguished man of science. John Lubbock was sent to Eton in 1845; but three years later was taken into his father's bank, and became a partner at twenty-two. In 1865 he succeeded to the baronetcy. His love of science kept pace with his increasing participation in public affairs. He served on commissions upon coinage and other financial questions; and at the same time acted as president of the Entomological Society and of the Anthropological Institute. Early in his career several banking reforms of great importance were due to his initiative, while such works as Prehistoric Times (1865) and The Origin of Civilization (1870) were proceeding from his pen. In 1870, and again in 1874, he was elected a member of parliament for Maidstone. He lost the seat at the election of 1880; but was at once elected member for London University, of which he had been vice-chancellor since 1872. He carried numerous enactments in parliament, including the Bank Holidays Act 1871, and bills dealing with absconding debtors, shop hours regulations, public libraries, open spaces, and the preservation of ancient monuments, and he proved himself an indefatigable and influential member of the Unionist party.
A prominent supporter of the Statistical Society, he took an active part in criticizing the encroachment of municipal trading and the increase of the municipal debt. He was elected the first president of the Institute of Bankers in 1879; in 1881 he was president of the British Association, and from 1881 to 1886 president of the Linnaean Society. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge (where he was Rede lecturer in 1886), Edinburgh, Dublin and Würzburg; and in 1878 was appointed a trustee of the British Museum. From 1888 to 1892 he was president of the London Chamber of Commerce; from 1889 to 1890 vice-chairman and from 1890 to 1892 chairman of the London County Council. During the same period he served on royal commissions on education and on gold and silver. In 1890 he was appointed a privy councillor; and was chairman of the committee of design on the new coinage in 1891. In 1900 he was raised to the peerage, under the title of Baron Avebury, and he continued to play a leading part in public life, not only by the weight of his authority on many subjects, but by the readiness with which he lent his support to movements for the public benefit. Among other matters he was a prominent advocate of proportional representation.
As an original author and a thoughtful popularizer of natural history and philosophy he had few rivals in his day, as is evidenced by the number of editions issued of many of his writings, among which the most widely-read have been: The Origin and Metamorphoses of Insects (1873), British Wild Flowers (1875), Ants, Bees and Wasps (1882), Flowers, Fruit and Leaves (1886), The Pleasures of Life (1887), The Senses, Instincts and Intelligence of Animals (1888), The Beauties of Nature (1892), The Use of Life (1894).