skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To C. M. C. Darwin   6 April 1879

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

April 6th 1879

My dear Mrs. Darwin

I had intended writing to you the day before your kind note to my wife arrived.1 I shd be sorry to make any mistakes in the few words which I shall say about the Darwins of the past. Will you kindly read the enclosed written by my son George, & endeavour to explain our difficulty?2

My son Leonard of the R. Engineers now has charge at Chatham of the Photographic department; & he often takes a party of Sappers & miners to different parts of England to practise them in Photography, & he feels almost sure that before long he will be able to go to Elston & take a Photograph of your House; so that I shd. want no other copy.—3 Would you therefore be so very kind as to send for him (Lieut. Darwin R.E) the briefest line of introduction to your tenant at Elston.— He thinks he will also go to Cleatham. Is the estate there still in your possession? & do you know anything of the clergyman, so as to aid him in [hunting] the Registers or any old tombs &c.—4

Since writing to you before I have made an odd discovery. I had a very large box, marked “old settlements & deeds” from my Father, & never thought it worth opening; but now I have done so, & found instead of deeds hundreds of letters from Dr. Erasmus Darwin & other odd old letters, one very curious one from Susannah Darwin sister of Erasmus.5 Also a rough drawing of Elston before it was altered about year 1750; & this I think that I will have engraved & give it as well as your House in its present state.6

I hope that I have not wearied you with this long note & remain | yours truly obliged | Charles Darwin


This letter to Emma Darwin has not been found.
George Howard Darwin’s enclosure has not been found. It probably related to whether Robert Darwin (1682–1754) had owned the Elston Estate in Nottinghamshire (see letter from C. M. C. Darwin, 14 April 1879).
Leonard Darwin was in the Royal Engineers, and an instructor in chemistry and photography at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham in Kent. Sappers: private soldiers in the Royal Engineers. Charlotte Maria Cooper Darwin’s husband, Francis Rhodes Darwin, inherited Elston Hall from Charlotte’s brother, Robert Alvey Darwin, in 1850 (Darwin pedigree, p. 28). She had sent CD photographs of Elston Hall taken in the summer of 1878 (see letter from C. M. C. Darwin, 27 March 1879.
CD’s father, Robert Waring Darwin, was Erasmus Darwin’s youngest son from his first marriage. Susannah Darwin was Erasmus Darwin’s sister. A transcription of the ‘curious’ letter (DAR 227.3.1) in which Susannah wondered whether hog flesh could be regarded as fish and therefore eaten during Lent was published in Erasmus Darwin, p. 7. The contents of the ‘settlements & deeds’ box are probably now in DAR 227.
CD included only the engraving of Elston before 1754 in Erasmus Darwin, p. 3.


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

Post Office directory of Lincolnshire: Post Office directory of Lincolnshire. Kelly’s directory of Lincolnshire. London: Kelly and Co. 1849–1937.


Sends details of the progress of his researches for Erasmus Darwin.

His son Leonard will photograph Elston and Cleatham. He has found an early drawing of Elston.

Asks for a letter of introduction for Leonard Darwin to CMCD’s tenant at Elston.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charlotte Maria Cooper Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
The late Mrs Vivien Kindersley (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11978F,” accessed on 22 September 2023,