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Darwin Correspondence Project

To C. M. C. Darwin   15 April 1879

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

April 15th 1879

My dear Mrs. Darwin

I thank you much for your kind note & for all the trouble which you have taken & for the note of Introduction. I do not know when my son will be able to go to Elston.—1

Since writing to you, in wading through the old letters, I have come across one to my Father from R. W. Darwin who says “I suppose you know my Father was a Barrister at Law, took his Degree at Lincoln’s Inn, & practised in Chambers there for several years, but left London at the time he married & resided at Elston.”2

This seems conclusive, but how he could have been rich enough is now my puzzle: perhaps his elder brother allowed him to live rent-free, or he must have made much money by the law; for he sent up 3 sons at the same time to Cambridge.—3

I do not think it wd. be worth while to give a portrait of the said Robert Darwin.4 Will you have the kindness to tell me what was acreage of the land at Cleatham, formerly belonging to the Darwins?5

The engraving by Rajon from a picture of me by Owless is greatly admired by judges of etching; but my family do not think it very like. Every peculiarity in my features is exaggerated,—or to speak in plain English every feature is made uglier even than it was made by nature. Rajon sent me 8 copies, & my 7 children have each seized on one. I shall be very happy to give you & Mr. Darwin the remaining one, & will despatch it in a few days after getting a big board.6 I am told that a good copy cannot be purchased now, except for a fabulous price & I am very sure that so ugly a production is not worth a great price.—

Pray believe me | yours very truly obliged | Ch. Darwin


A letter of introduction (now missing) to the tenants of Elston Hall, requesting that Leonard Darwin be allowed to photograph it, had been enclosed with the letter from C. M. C. Darwin, 14 April 1879.
Robert Waring Darwin of Elston (1724–1816) was an uncle of Robert Waring Darwin (1766–1848), CD’s father, and the son of Robert Darwin (1682–1754). The letter has not been found.
CD was trying to establish whether Robert Darwin owned Elston Hall (see letter to Reginald Darwin, 8 April 1879 and n. 8). Three of Robert Darwin’s four sons attended Cambridge University, but only Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) and John Darwin were there at the same time; Robert Waring Darwin (1724–1816) had been there seven years earlier and William Alvey Darwin studied law in London.
In Erasmus Darwin, p. 1, CD referred to the Cleatham Estate as small even before the greater part of it was sold in 1760.
The etching by Paul-Adolphe Rajon was after an 1875 portrait of CD by Walter William Ouless. See also plate on p. 119, and Browne 2002, p. 424. Charlotte Darwin’s husband was Francis Rhodes Darwin.


Browne, Janet. 2002. Charles Darwin. The power of place. Volume II of a biography. London: Pimlico.

Withering, William. 1796. A botanical arrangement of all the vegetables naturally growing in Great Britain … With an easy introduction to the study of botany. 3d ed. 4 vols. Birmingham.


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

Sends some information about R. W. Darwin’s residence at Elston; does not plan to include a portrait of him.

Asks the acreage of land at Cleatham.

Offers to send a print of the portrait of himself by W. W. Ouless.

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. 11995F,” accessed on 7 June 2023,