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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   16 September 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Sep. 16 76

Dear Dyer

I thank you cordially for your most kind letter, which I have forwarded to my son who has gone to N. Wales with the body.1 They loved each other most tenderly, & I have never seen a human being suffer so dreadfully as he did. It has been a fearful blow to us all.— God knows whether & when my son will have heart to work at science again, but I shall do all I can to persuade him. She became unconscious very soon & never suffered & never knew she was leaving him for ever.

Yours most truly | Ch. Darwin

P.S Our plans are in utter perplexity; we want to go to Southampton to my son who had so bad a concussion on the Brain, but we have to see about the Baby & we do not know when Frank will return here, where thank Heaven he will live, instead of in his own now miserable house.—2

PS. This reminds me to ask you to let me hear 3 or 4 days before the Catasetum is ready to be despatched, as God knows where We shall be.3


Thiselton-Dyer’s letter of condolence on the death of CD’s daughter-in-law, Amy Darwin, wife of Francis Darwin, has not been found. Amy was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Corris, near Machynlleth, about five miles from her family’s home, Pantlludw. Amy had died on 11 September 1876 following the birth of their son, Bernard Darwin, on 7 September (ODNB).
William Erasmus Darwin had suffered a concussion in a riding accident (see letter to Andrew Clark, [late June 1876] and n. 3). After hiring a wet nurse and arranging for their daughter Henrietta Emma Litchfield and her husband, Richard Buckley Litchfield, to care for the baby, the Darwins left Down on 4 October 1876 and stayed with William from 7 to 20 October 1876 (letter from Emma Darwin to Leonard Darwin, [29 September 1876] (DAR 239.23: 1.51); CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Thiselton-Dyer had sent a specimen of Catasetum, probably Catasetum tabulare, but CD had not been able to make the observations he wanted (see letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 1 September 1876 and n. 1). CD had evidently asked for another specimen.


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.


Discusses the death of his daughter-in-law.

Plans to visit Southampton.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Thiselton-Dyer, W.T., Letters from Charles Darwin 1873–81: 47–8)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10602,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

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