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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   2 November 1879

Abinger Hall, | Dorking. | (Gomshall S.E.R. | Station & Telegraph.)

2 Nov/79

My dear Mr Darwin,

I will at once tell my brother William that Mr Hacon will call on him about settlements.1 These young ones will not starve even if Horaces designs do not prove very remunerative; as we trust they will.2 He seems too to have what is worth a great fortune, prudence in dealing with money. So much the better for Ida has it all to learn.

My intention has been to give each of my younger children about £12,000 at my death and I would covenant to pay £300 a year to them at once.

Mr Hacon will find my brother a very sensible fellow on these matters, and I think you & I shall agree about them very well— I am not very fond of strict settlements especially where the people are prudent: and anything beyond a reasonable provision for a family I abominate.

Now that the matter is finally settled I do not think there is any good reason for delay. It is a trying time for everyone: and the sooner we can settle into new relations the better.3

Ever sincerely yours | T H Farrer

I mean to give your potato papers to Lord Sandon—but should like to have something definite to suggest.4 It is a good time for it— Agriculture wants press.


CD had suggested that his solicitor, William Mackmurdo Hacon, meet with Farrer’s brother William James Farrer, who was also a solicitor, to discuss the marriage settlement for Horace Darwin and Ida Farrer (see letter to T. H. Farrer, 31 October 1879).
Horace had been designing and building scientific instruments in Cambridge since 1877; he founded the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company in partnership with Albert George Dew-Smith in 1881 (Cattermole and Wolfe 1987, pp. xiv, 20–1).
Farrer had initially withheld his consent for the marriage (see letter to T. H. Farrer, 27 June [1879] and n. 2).
CD had sent Farrer some newspaper articles about James Torbitt’s potato experiments (see letter from T. H. Farrer, 30 October 1879, and letter to James Torbitt, 1 November 1879 and n. 1). Dudley Francis Stuart Ryder, Viscount Sandon, was minister for the Board of Trade.


Cattermole, Michael J. G. and Wolfe, Arthur F. 1987. Horace Darwin’s shop: a history of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company 1878 to 1968. Bristol and Boston: Adam Hilger.


Concerning the settlement for Horace Darwin and Ida.

Will give CD’s potato papers to Lord Sandon.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 95
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12287,” accessed on 11 December 2023,