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Darwin Correspondence Project

From B. J. Sulivan   12 November 1880


Novr 12/80

My dear Darwin

I find the year has gone round since our payment for J. FitzRoy Button’s support in the orphanage at Oshawia   I have sent the 10£ and must now collect the subscriptions.1

Mr. Langton told me today of Miss Wedgwood’s death.2 I had not seen it in the papers, having hardly seen a “Times” this six weeks not having time to go to the Club through finishing & preparing to open a Coffee Tavern by a Limited Compy. of whose Directors I am chairmen.3

You will all I am sure miss your relative sadly   she was so bright and cheerful—but she has been spared to a good old age. Mr. Langton keeps pretty well, but he certainly gets thinner and shows his age more than he did not long since.

I have heard lately from King, Mellersh & Usborne4   Mellersh after long illness has got much better, but has had great anxiety about his wife.5 a few weeks since she had to be operated on for cataract, soon after a second operation was necessary to save the eye. & the sight is still doubtful. When well enough she has to go through another removal of cataract from the other eye.

With our united kind regards to Mrs. Darwin and yourself | Believe me | very sincerely your’s | B. J. Sulivan

On Thursday next D.V.6 I shall complete my 70 years.


Sulivan had proposed that former members of the Beagle crew support one of Jemmy Button’s grandsons, James FitzRoy Button, at the orphanage at Ushuaia in the Beagle Channel (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter from B. J. Sulivan, [14–20] April [1878], and Correspondence vol. 27, letter from B. J. Sulivan, 13 October 1879). Jemmy’s Yahgan name was Orundellico and his grandson’s name was Cooshaipunjiz.
Elizabeth Wedgwood had died on 8 November 1880 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). Charles Langton lived in Bournemouth, as did Sulivan.
Sulivan was a member of the United Service Club, London (Sulivan ed. 1896, p. 376). The Bournemouth Coffee Tavern Company laid the foundation stone for a new coffee tavern in April 1880 (Coffee Public-House News, 1 June 1880, p. 363). Sulivan was an active supporter of the temperance cause, which promoted eating and drinking establishments where alcohol was not served (see Sulivan ed. 1896, p. 392, and Harrison 1994, pp. 295–6).
Philip Gidley King, Alexander Burns Usborne, and Arthur Mellersh had all served on HMS Beagle during CD’s voyage.
On Mellersh’s health problems, see letter from B. J. Sulivan, 2 January [1880]; his wife was Henrietta Frances Mellersh.
‘D.V.’: Deo volente or God willing (Latin).


Harrison, Brian Howard. 1994. Drink and the Victorians: the temperance question in England, 1815–1872. 2d edition. Staffordshire: Keele University Press.

Sulivan, Henry Norton, ed. 1896. Life and letters of the late Admiral Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, KCB, 1810–1890. London: John Murray.


Is collecting annual subscriptions for the support of J[emmy] FitzRoy Button. Has only just been told of the death of Miss [Sarah Elizabeth] Wedgwood.

Gives news of some former Beagle crew members.

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 312
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12809,” accessed on 8 June 2023,