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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albany Hancock   [21 September 1849]1

Down Farnborough Kent


I trust to your kindness to forgive a stranger taking the liberty of addressing you. I have been for the last two years (at least such portions of it, as my health allowed me to work in) employed on a monograph, anatomical & systematic, of the Cirripedia; it was consequently with the greatest possible interest that I heard your admirable paper2 at Birmingham. I made a few remarks on the subject which will perhaps appear in the Athenæum.3 In S. America I collected an allied form, parasitic in the Concholepas & which probably will be included in the same order with your’s, but which I think must certainly form a very distinct family.4

I was very glad to hear from Mr Taylor5 that your Paper will appear in the Annals & then I shall be able to study it.—6 I have no sort of pretension to claim any favour from you, but if you could at any time spare me one or two specimens in the shell, preserved in Spirits, it would be the most material kindness.— I would pledge my honour not to publish anything so as to interfere with any further researches you might choose to make on the species.— No one can be aware better than yourself after your excellent labours on the Mollusca,7 that when one is employed on a Monograph, trifling points are found to be of interest, which are known to be so only to those employed on the class & it is on this grounds that I shd so much like to dissect a specimen of your genus.— I have now dissected species of all the genera of the Cirripedia, & have nearly finished the systematic part of the Pedunculata, but yet from the extreme slowness of rate, at which my health allows me to work, my monograph will not appear for one or two years,8 so that I could not encroach on anything which you might choose to publish further on the subject.

I trust that the great interest, which I have felt in your interesting discovery, will make you forgive my taking the liberty of asking you so great a favour as that contained in this letter.

I beg to remain. | With much respect | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin To | A. Hancock Esqre.


CD returned to Down on 21 September 1849 (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
The paper, on Hancock’s discovery of a new genus of boring Cirripedia, though read to section D (natural history, including physiology) at the meeting, was not published in the Report of the 19th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Birmingham in 1849 (see addenda, p. 125). It was published under a slightly different title in Annals and Magazine of Natural History (A. Hancock 1849b).
Athenæum, no. 1143, 22 September 1849, p. 966. The report is reprinted in Collected papers 1: 250–1. See also letter to J. D. Dana, 24 February [1850].
CD refers to the specimen he originally named Arthrobalanus and later Cryptophialus minutus. Like Hancock’s Alcippe, CD’s barnacle was also a parasite which had the power to bore, and hence he suspected the two were allied. In his comments on Hancock’s paper, CD compared Arthrobalanus to Alcippe: ‘Its main affinity to the genus described by Mr. Hancock lies in the number and position of the cirri and the great developement of the labrum:— the metamorphosis and organs of generation appear to be considerably different.’ (Collected papers 1: 250).
Richard Taylor, editor and publisher of Annals and Magazine of Natural History.
A. Hancock 1849b. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Alder and Hancock 1845–55, issued in parts by the Ray Society. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
The first volume of Living Cirripedia was published in 1851. It is devoted to the Lepadidae or pedunculated Cirripedia, but the genus Alcippe is not described therein. CD did not suspect that Alcippe could be included among the Lepadidae until he examined it in 1853 (see Living Cirripedia (1854): 526–9, and the correspondence between CD and Hancock early in 1853, Correspondence vol. 5).


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Living Cirripedia (1851): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1851.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.


Describes his research on cirripedes.

Comments on paper by AH ["Notice of a burrowing barnacle", Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. 2d ser. 4 (1849): 305–14]. Asks to borrow specimens.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albany Hancock
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1253,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4