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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   13 September 1876

“The Baths” Helensburgh

Sept 13/76.

My very dear friend

In the midst of my own happiness I have been daily thinking of writing to the one of all others who would rejoice with me, when I was startled at finding in the paper, the death of your daughter in law, My dear dear Darwin I cannot tell you how I feel for Frank & Mrs Darwin & yourself.1 It seems to open up my own all too recent loss, & to depress me utterly— poor poor Frank my heart bleeds for him: they were so happy, & she so loveable— how I envied them a few months ago!—2

It was not 5 minutes after I had heard from my son Willy of poor Sibson’s death, that I stumbled across that of Mrs Frank. in the Times. & it quite upset me.3

We are staying with Miss Smith of Jordan hill & leave tomorrow, to join Mrs Lyell Rosamund Arthur & Mr Symonds for a short time in the Western Highlands when we go to visit Sir J. P. Grant at Aviemore. & then Sir J. Colvill near Dunfermline before going south.4 Please write me a few lines addressed

c/o— Sir J. P. Grant K.C B.

The Doune Aviemore


telling me how Frank is, & of what poor Mrs F. died.5 A very few lines will be enough; & give the dear fellow my most affectionate sympathy.— Oh dear, oh dear, what a weary weary world it is, & yet I should be the last to complain, for my wife is indeed a most good kind prudent & affectionate creature who makes me very happy.

Ever my dear old friend | Yr sincere & affec friend | Jos D Hooker


Hooker had married Hyacinth Jardine on 22 August 1876 (ODNB). Francis Darwin’s wife, Amy, had died on 11 September 1876, having given birth on 7 September to Bernard Darwin. Amy’s death was reported in The Times, 13 September 1876, p. 1.
Hooker’s first wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, had died suddenly on 13 November 1874 (Allan 1967, p. 225). Hooker had visited Down on 15 April 1876 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)) and probably saw Francis and Amy then.
William Henslow Hooker had evidently written to his father about Francis Sibson, the Hooker family doctor, who died suddenly in Geneva on 7 September 1876 (The Times, 12 September 1876, p. 9).
Sabina Douglas Clavering Smith lived at Jordanhill house, Glasgow (Burke’s landed gentry 1914). Hooker also refers to Katharine Murray Lyell, her daughter, Rosamond Frances Ann Lyell, and her son Arthur Henry Lyell. William Samuel Symonds was Hooker’s father-in-law. John Peter Grant’s family estate was at Rothiemurchus, Aviemore, Inverness-shire; the estate of his son-in-law, James William Colvile, was Craigflower, near Dunfermline, Fife (ODNB).
CD had, in fact, already written to Hooker with details of Amy’s death (letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 September [1876]).


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

Burke’s landed gentry: A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank but unvisited with heritable honours. Burke’s genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry. By John Burke et al. 1st–18th edition. London: Henry Colburn [and others]. 1833–1969.

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.


JDH’s condolences at Amy Darwin’s death.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 60–1
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10597,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24