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Darwin Correspondence Project


To Francis Darwin   8 [June? 1868]1



My dear F.

On Jan. 29th 1868 I paid you a cheque for £14"10"0 (£10 out of your Legacy & 4"10.0 for Fees)— This cheque has never been presented to my Bankers; & I never knew a cheque so much delayed.—2

What did you do with it? Did you send to Union Bank, or pay it to some Tradesman? if in Cambridge, enquire about it, & let me hear soon.—3 If you had lost it, you wd of course have told me.—

I hope the poor dear old “Pelican on the House-top” is jolly,— I shd think so from his last jolly note.—4

Your affect. Father | C. Darwin


The month is conjectured and the year established from entries in CD’s Account books–banking account (Down House MS). See n. 2, below.
In CD’s Account books–banking account a payment of £14 10s. to Francis Darwin is noted on 29 January 1868; alongside entries at the end of June 1868 is a note reading, ‘14.10 Frank old cheque not ticked off’. CD evidently placed a tick on his record of each cheque payment when the cheque was presented to his bankers. The 29 January payment does have a tick beside it, so presumably the cheque was eventually accounted for; however, no reply to this letter has been found.
CD had banked with the Union Bank of London since 1853 (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to John Higgins, 11 April [1853]). Francis was an undergraduate at Cambridge University.
Presumably a loose reference to Ps. 101: 6–7: ‘I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top’, and to George Howard Darwin. George was a fellow at Cambridge University. No letter from George to his family from this time has been found.

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Darwin, Francis
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 211: 3
Physical description


A cheque written out for FD has never been presented to CD’s bankers.



Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5769,” accessed on 30 May 2016,