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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   18 January [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 18th

My dear Farrer

You have been very good in getting for me such capital information & it wd. have been complete if the last census had reached the office.2 But there is enough indirect information showing clearly that the inhabitants are far from becoming sterile, & affording a capital contrast with the New Zealanders, Sandwich Islanders &c.3

I think I clearly ought to write & thank Mr Herbert & send through him my thanks to Mr Dealtry who has taken much trouble for me.— But I am perplexed how to address Mr Herbert, as there are so many “Honourables” of that name.4 Will you send me a P. Card to this effect.

With many thanks for your assistance. Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from William Dealtry, 16 January 1874.
Farrer, who was secretary of the Board of Trade, had probably put CD in contact with Robert George Wyndham Herbert, who was an under-secretary at the Colonial Office and had earlier been an assistant under-secretary at the Board of Trade (ODNB). Herbert probably passed CD’s request for information on the population of Norfolk Island to William Dealtry, a clerk at the Colonial Office. Dealtry had informed CD that the most recent census figures from Norfolk Island had not yet arrived at the Colonial Office (see letter from William Dealtry, 16 January 1874).
CD had received information on the decline of the birth rate in the native population of New Zealand and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) following contact with Europeans (see letters from H. H. Howorth, 3 January [1874] and [27 January 1874]).
‘Honourable’ is a courtesy title given to the younger sons of earls, but Herbert was the grandson of an earl, so would not have had the title.


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Thanks THF for information from Colonial Office on population statistics showing the inhabitants of some areas are far from becoming sterile.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (LS Ms 299/25)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10362,” accessed on 30 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22