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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert FitzRoy   1 October 1846

Down. Farnborough. Kent.

Oct. 1st. 1846.

Dear FitzRoy.

I did not hear for more than 4 weeks after your return that you were in England, and now, though I have nothing particular to say—I cannot resist writing to congratulate you on your safe arrival after your bad passage home,1 and to express my most sincere hope that Mrs. FitzRoy and your family are all well— I was in London yesterday—for the first time—since I heard of your return and found your address at the Admiralty & in Dover St. the servant told me to direct as I have done. I got your pamphlet2 the other day and was very much interested by it, for I had heard comparatively little about New Zealand; I fear you must have undergone much trouble & vexation and been ill repaid except by the consciousness of your own motives, for the sacrifices which I am aware you made in accepting the Governorship.—3

I hope that your health has not suffered and that you are as strong & vigorous as formerly— I have hardly the assurance to ask you to spare time to write to me, but I should be very glad to hear about yourself Mrs. Fitzroy & the children. My life goes on like Clockwork, and I am fixed on the spot where I shall end it; we have four children, who & my wife are all well. My health, also, has rather improved, but I am a different man in strength and energy to what I was in old days, when I was your “Fly-catcher”, on board the Beagle; I have just finished the 3rd. & last part of the Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle—viz: on S. America; I will direct a copy (in a weeks time when published) to be sent to the Carlton Club, without you prefer it being sent elsewhere.— It is purely geological & dull enough, but I hope it contains some few new facts & views— I have now with the exception of some Zoological papers on the lower marine animals completed all which I shall ever attempt on the materials collected during the voyage—4

I am aware how little chance there is of your having time to spare, but if ever when in Town Mrs. FitzRoy & yourself should feel inclined to spend a few days in the country—it would give my wife & myself real pleasure;—we have a tolerably comfortable house in a very quiet, retired, airy part of the country—

I think I ought to apologise for the length of this letter.— Pray give my kind & respectful regards to Mrs. FitzRoy & Believe me, dear FitzRoy | Yours truly & obliged | Charles Darwin


FitzRoy, with his wife and children, had endured a stormy sea journey following his recall from his post as governor of New Zealand.
FitzRoy 1846, an account of his governorship.
FitzRoy had been obliged to deal with conflicts between British settlers and the native Maoris. He was unable to satisfy either side, and his independent approach to problems displeased the Colonial Office. He was replaced by George Grey in October 1845 (Mellersh 1968, pp. 234–5). FitzRoy evidently incurred considerable private expense as governor (see letter from B. J. Sulivan, 13 January – 12 February 1845).
The Beagle barnacles are included in the monographs on Living Cirripedia (1851, 1854). CD’s intention to describe other marine invertebrates was not realised. Chancellor et al. 1987 provides descriptions of the Beagle invertebrates now in the Oxford University Museum.


FitzRoy, Robert. 1846. Remarks on New Zealand, in February 1846. London.

Living Cirripedia (1851): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1851.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.

Mellersh, Harold Edward Leslie. 1968. FitzRoy of the Beagle. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.


Has just heard of RF’s return [from New Zealand]. Hopes to see him.

CD and family are well, but he is a different man in strength and energy from when he was "Flycatcher" in the Beagle.

Has just finished his book [South America].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert FitzRoy
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 119
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1002,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3