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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. S. Galton   31 March 1879

5, Bertie Terrace | Leamington

March 31st. 1879

My dear Cousin,

My Sister Mrs. Wheler having shewn me your letter—I will send by Railway, two views of the Priory at the time of our Grandfather’s death where he had made it, his regular residence only three weeks before—1 I send you a Drawing of the Priory—given to me by Violetta Darwin (Reginald’s sister) of what is was before it was sold, after my Uncle’s death—2

Also I thought you might like a drawing of the House in Full Street, Derby—where our Grandfather lived for so many years,— My sister in law, Mrs. Francis Galton made a sketch of it for my Mother when passing through Derby in 1871—3

Reginald Darwin (who is our first Cousin & Grandson of Dr. Eras: Darwin) has many papers, especially the “Common place book” & others of interest, which I am sure he would be very pleased to lend you, as he always has sent us anything we wanted to see, of the Darwin family—4 This reminds me of an anecdote, that my Father, & also Mr. Leonard Horner used to tell, that when our Uncle, Sir Francis Darwin went to Edinburgh to study— He was told, he must make up his mind to hear of some of his Father’s (Dr. E Darwin’s) theories roughly handled— Sir Fras. immediately stood up in the Hall, & in a loud voice said— He wished everyone to understand, that the first Person who said a word against his father (Dr. E Dn.) or his works, he would knock him down at once— His height being above 6 feet & a very powerful frame— All tongues at once were silenced!—5

Last year, we had some Photographs taken from Reginald Darwin’s family pictures at his House at Buxton—of Dr. Eras: Darwin’s Father & Grandfather— I send them also, for you to look at— Also a book with remarks on the Darwins6

My mother,7 being only nineteen years of age when her Father died, had no letters of his—

Mrs. Rhodes Darwin (Charlotte) of Creskeld—Otley—to whom Elston belongs also Sarah, Mrs. Noel—of Clanna Falls Lydney—Gloucestershire—would probably have many family papers—8 Mrs. Noel evidently takes much interest in the Darwin Genealogy—as she asked us to help her—about a part of it she did not know—

With kind love to Mrs. Darwin | Believe me | Yours sincerely | Emma S Galton

The parcel shall be directed to the care of the Station Master | at Orpington | S. E. R.

I also send a Print of our Grandfather Darwin9

I should think Violetta Darwin could send you a good Drawg. of Breadsall Church if you wanted it—. She Lythographs well—10 My view is fm. an old drawg lent me years ago—

I forget if there is anything in Smiles life of Boulton & Watt of Dr. E Darwin11

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Parcel | acknowledged | by P. C.’ pencil; ‘Dr Warren’12 ink


See letter to E. A. Wheler, 26 March 1879. Elizabeth Anne Wheler was Galton’s sister and neighbour. Breadsall Priory was an estate near Derby, purchased by Erasmus Darwin’s son Erasmus shortly before his death in 1799 and left to his father. The elder Erasmus and his family moved to Breadsall Priory in the last week of March 1802; Erasmus died on 18 April 1802 (King-Hele 1999, pp. 330, 341).
Violetta Harriot Darwin and Reginald Darwin were children of Francis Sacheverel Darwin (Galton’s uncle), a son of Erasmus Darwin and his second wife Elizabeth. Francis had lived at Breadsall Priory from 1846 until his death in 1859 (King-Hele 1999, p. 369). Violetta’s drawing of Breadsall Priory was reproduced in Erasmus Darwin, p. 125.
The sketch of the house at Full Street, Derby, made by Louisa Jane Galton for Violetta Galton has not been found; Erasmus Darwin and his family lived there from the autumn of 1783 until March 1802 (a photograph of the house before its demolition in 1933 is in King-Hele 1999, plate 10B).
See letter from Reginald Darwin, 29 March 1879 and n. 2; Reginald had sent the Commonplace book (Down House MS) to CD.
The anecdote concerned Francis Sacheverel Darwin. Galton’s father was Samuel Tertius Galton.
Erasmus’s father was Robert Darwin; his grandfather was William Darwin (1655–82). The photographs have not been found; the book has not been identified.
Violetta Galton.
Charlotte Maria Cooper Darwin was the wife of Francis Rhodes Darwin, who had inherited Elston Hall, Nottinghamshire, from her brother, Robert Alvey Darwin. The property was let; the Darwins lived at Francis’s estate, Creskeld Hall, Otley, West Yorkshire. Sarah Gay Forbes Noel was Charlotte’s sister.
The print has not been identified; for more on the portraits of Erasmus Darwin, see M. Keynes 1994.
Violetta Harriot Darwin had published a lithograph showing details of Breadsall Church and Priory in 1858 (Anastatic Drawing Society (1858): 4, XIX).
Samuel Smiles included some quotations from correspondence between Erasmus Darwin and Matthew Boulton, and between Darwin and James Watt, in Lives of Boulton and Watt (Smiles 1865, pp. 184, 201, 369, 509–10).
CD’s annotation refers to his acknowledgment by postcard of receipt of the parcel containing the pictures of Breadsall Priory (see n. 2, above). Richard Warren was physician to George III, and the most sought-after society doctor in London. When suffering from a terminal illness he travelled to Lichfield to consult Erasmus Darwin, whom he thought ‘the greatest physician in world’ and the person most qualified to tell him truthfully when he might expect to die. CD recounted the story in Erasmus Darwin, pp. 105–6.


Erasmus Darwin. By Ernst Krause. Translated from the German by W. S. Dallas, with a preliminary notice by Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1879.

Keynes, Milo. 1994. Portraits of Dr Erasmus Darwin, F.R.S., by Joseph Wright, James Rawlinson and William Coffee. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 48: 69–84.

King-Hele, Desmond. 1999. Erasmus Darwin. A life of unequalled achievement. London: Giles de la Mare Publishers.

Smiles, Samuel. 1865. Lives of Boulton and Watt: principally from the original Soho mss. Comprising also a history of the invention and introduction of the steam-engine. London: John Murray.


Sends drawings of several of Dr Erasmus Darwin’s residences, together with suggestions of sources of other material.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Sophia Galton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 99: 181–2
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11962,” accessed on 7 June 2023,