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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Bernhard Tegetmeier   20 January [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

Jan. 20th

My dear Sir

I have been looking over the Poultry Book again & have found so very many remarks, which have interested me greatly, that I am anxious to know whether more than No XI have been published, which is all that I have got.2 Will you kindly take the trouble to inform me.—

You make like to hear about the mongrel poultry, on which you gave me much all-important assistance.3 The result has now become interesting. The chickens from Spanish Cock & White Silk fowl were jet black in the Down & in first plumage, but late in Autumn to my astonishment red feather after red very slowly appeared in the Cocks & now one of the Cocks is nearly as splendid as the wild Gallus Bankiva. Another young cock from game Hen was quite white, but now has very much red about it, ie the hackles red. Are not these curious facts?4

How goes on the Apiarian Soc.?5 And I hope that you yourself & family are well. As soon as I finished my Book (& I hope you received your copy safely) was finished, I went to Ilkley Wells for 10 weeks to recruit;6 but it did not do me much good, & presume I shall remain a wretched valetudinarian to the day of my death.

I received a note, when at Ilkley; but as it did not particularly require an answer, & as I was then extra unwell, I did not write.—

Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is given by the reference to CD’s visit to Ilkley (see n. 6, below).
Tegetmeier ed. 1856–7. The work was issued in parts, and publication ceased with number 11. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
CD first asked Tegetmeier ‘whether Fowls when crossed throw odd & unexpected colours like Pigeons do.—’ in 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 12 [May 1857] and 18 May [1857]). In 1859, CD acquired several different breeds of fowl from Tegetmeier and initiated a cross-breeding experiment to ascertain whether the mongrel offspring resemble the colouring of the ancestral breed Gallus bankiva. The results are recorded in CD’s Experimental book, pp. 41 and 49 (DAR 157a).
CD described these cases in Variation 1: 240–2.
Tegetmeier was a founding member and secretary of the Apiarian Society (E. W. Richardson 1916). He had a keen interest in bee studies and assisted CD with his researches in 1858 and 1859 on the construction of bees’ cells (see Correspondence vol. 7).
CD visited a hydropathic establishment in Ilkley, Yorkshire, from 2 October to 9 December 1859 (see Correspondence vol. 7, ‘Journal’; Appendix II).


Gives the results of crossing experiments; some interesting and curious facts.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Tegetmeier, W. B. ser.1: 12)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2656,” accessed on 21 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8