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Darwin Correspondence Project

From B. J. Sulivan   13 October 1879


Oct 13/79

My dear Darwin

I find after all that Mr Bridges reserved J. Button’s grandson for Beagles, by getting the lady who had taken on herself to provide for him to take another orphan and though he did not write to me about it he has sent them the list of orphans for publication; & forgetting that I told him the boy should have FitzRoys name added, and be called “James FitzRoy Button” he has put my name instead of FitzRoys—and called him “James Button Sulivan”—1 This I will have altered, as Mrs FitzRoy likes the name I proposed & so we all did— She and her daughters wish to give 3£ a year towards the 10£ required; I am going to give 2£, & I will ask you again to give the 1£ you intended when it was first mentioned.2 I have no doubt. Hamond Mellesh Usborne & Stokes will do the same. Johnson is so ill, & his memory was so weak the last time I saw him, that I will not say anything to him about it.3

I hope you are all well. My wife & I spent July & August at different places in Devon & Cornwall. Our daughters are still absent. We are pretty well—but I cannot get my legs strong again to walk as I used until last Summer. but I can manage three or four miles if I do not mind a little pain.4

My wife joins me in kind regards to Mrs. Darwin and yourself and all your circle | Believe me | very sincerely | your’s | B J Sulivan

I dont think I ever sent you a young Falkland Island Tree (Veronica). I sent Hooker one some time since.5 I could send you a nice little plant if you care for it. they require a rather warm border for a severe winter.


Thomas Bridges was a missionary at Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. Sulivan had proposed that former members of the Beagle crew adopt one of Jemmy Button’s grandsons (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter from B. J. Sulivan, [14–20] April [1878]). Jemmy Button, originally named Orundellico, was a Fuegian of the Yahgan tribe who was brought to England in 1830 by Robert FitzRoy, the captain of HMS Beagle, and returned to Tierra del Fuego in 1833; he died in 1861. See also Correspondence vol. 26, letter to B. J. Sulivan, 22 April 1878, and letter from B. J. Sulivan, 10 May 1878.
The grandson appears under the name James Fitzroy Button and his sponsors are listed as ‘Mrs Fitzroy, and Officers of H.M.S. “Beagle”’ in the South American Missionary Magazine, 2 January 1882, p. 14. The boy’s Yahgan name was Cooshaipunjiz. Maria Isabella FitzRoy was Robert FitzRoy’s widow; his daughters were Fanny, Katherine, and Laura Maria Elizabeth FitzRoy.
Robert Nicholas Hamond, Arthur Mellersh, Alexander Burns Usborne, John Lort Stokes, and Charles Richardson Johnson had served on the Beagle during CD’s 1831–6 voyage.
B. J. Sulivan’s wife was Sophia Sulivan; their daughters were Frances Emma Georgina Sulivan, Sophia Henrietta Sulivan, and Catherine Sabine Trench. See also letter from B. J. Sulivan, 9 June 1879.
Probably Veronica elliptica, a tall shrub: there were reportedly no trees on the Falkland Islands (C. H. Wright 1911, pp. 313, 327). Joseph Dalton Hooker was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


The "Beagles" are, after all, to provide for Jemmy Button’s grandson [see 11501].

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 310
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12255,” accessed on 25 October 2021,