James Waterston, British entomologist, was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh where he qualified as Bachelor of Divinity (BD) and Bachelor of Science (BSc). Afterwards he was awarded a doctoral degree in science. For some years he was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland and during this period published many papers on ectoparasites. In April 1914 he joined the staff of the Imperial Bureau of Entomology in London. In May 1917, during World War I (1914-1918) he obtained a temporary commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps and served as entomologist to the Malaria Commission at Thessaloniki, Greece, with the rank of captain. Shortly after the war, in May 1920, he joined the staff of the British Museum (Natural History), where he became an assistant keeper, first class, in the Department of Entomology.
As an insect taxonomist Waterston worked mainly on the British Mallophaga (bird-lice), the order Siphonaptera (fleas), and the usually minute Hymenoptera, known comprehensively as Chalcidoidea, many of which are of great economic importance as their larvae are parasitic in caterpillars destructive to crops, in the pests of stored grain, and in other harmful insects such as tsetse flies. In addition to about 160 entomological papers his publications included Insects. Mallophaga. British Antarctic 'Terra Nova' expedition (1900), Fleas as a menace to man and domestic animals (British Museum, 1916; 6th edition, 1949), and The louse as a menace to man (British Museum, 1921, 1933).
Waterston's papers on the insect fauna of southern Africa included the following: 'On some ectoparasites in the South African Museum, Cape Town' (Annals of the South African Museum, 1914, Vol. 10(9), pp. 271-324); 'Notes on Siphonaptera in the Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa, with descriptions of two new species of the genus Ischnopsyllus' (Records of the Albany Museum, 1915, Vol. 3(2), pp. 107-120), 'A new family of Hymenoptera from South Africa' (Journal of Natural History, 1922, Vol. 10(58), pp. 418-420), and 'The Bushman's arrow poison beetle and its parasite' (Natural History Magazine, 1929, Vol. 2, pp 74-80).