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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   17 December 1881

Royal Gardens Kew

Dec 17/81.

Dear Darwin

I have gone thoroughly into the matter of the Steudel with Bentham Dyer & Oliver, & all agreeing that Mr Daydon Jackson was the only man well qualified by experience &c, I wrote to him, & had him here, when I asked him to put a plan upon paper, for doing the work on £200 per annum; & submit to me—1

He sends me the enclosed, & says that the work will take 5 years or possibly 6. in so far as he can see.2

From the enclosed you will see that the first year will cost £262.0.6., the remainder £208.8.0.

Of course if you give £250 per annum it would be got out proportionally sooner,—3 It is however impossible to get a nearer estimate until the work is begun.

Mr Jackson asks £115 per annum personal labor, for which he would devote 3 days (full) a week to the work himself.—

We should of course all help. Please return Jackson’s letter with your views. I should not be disposed to say any-thing about the other £50 per annum till we see how the work proceeds.—

Mr Jackson could begin next February— we regard him as competent & entirely trustworthy.

I have been reading Lyells life with great interest. It is a great pity that it was not cut down to one volume, but as it is I am only too glad to get it in any shape. I really think that Mrs Lyell has given us a very important contribution to the history of Science.—& it does make one “warm to” Lyell himself.4 The accounts of the early history of the Geological, it’s dinners &c, are most entertaining & instructive; so too is the substance of many of his journeys, in which he chronicles the labor of many good men whose names deserve to be remembered. The account of Cuvier, & his way of working, is most curious. The letters to Herschel, are the best, they are evidently very careful compositions.5

Do you observe certain passages that seem to prove that he never could expected to come into the Kinnordy property on his father’s death? & that on the contrary he looked from an early age to providing himself with a modest competency for his latter days.6

I cannot but think there is some utter misconception as to his father having deceived him as to Kinnordy. The latter was always regarded as a most upright honorable man; he was not wealthy, & he left 2 sons (one in bad health) with nothing but their pensions & 4? daughters (2 I think in bad health) with nothing at all, but the clothes on their backs.7

We go to Pendock on Friday for Christmas week.8

Ever aff Yrs | Jos. D. Hooker.


CD had offered the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, an annual payment for the production of a new catalogue of all known plants (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 238 and 417). The previous such work, Ernst Gottlieb Steudel’s Nomenclator botanicus, had been published in 1841; there is an annotated copy of Steudel 1841 in the Darwin Library–CUL. Hooker discussed the matter with George Bentham, William Turner Thiselton-Dyer, and Daniel Oliver; Benjamin Daydon Jackson was a botanical bibliographer.
In the end, the work, Index Kewensis, took almost ten years to complete (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 417). Jackson’s letter has not been found in the archives at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
CD ensured that Kew would receive £250 yearly until the work was completed (see letter to the Darwin children, 20 December 1881).
Charles Lyell’s sister-in-law Katharine Murray Lyell had published a selection of his letters in two volumes in November 1881 (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881).
Lyell had become a member of the Geological Society of London in 1819, and had served as secretary, foreign secretary, and president by 1837. He observed Georges Cuvier’s manner of working during a visit to Paris in 1829 (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 1: 249–50). Katharine Lyell had included six letters to John Frederick William Herschel (ibid. 1: 200, 449, 464, 470; 2: 11, 404).
When Charles Lyell Sr, laird of Kinnordy, Forfarshire, died in 1849, Lyell, as the eldest son, expected to inherit the estate and become the new laird. Contrary to Hooker’s supposition, Lyell was unaware that his father had instead established a trust fund to provide equal shares of the income from the estate for each of his eight children. Even with the addition of the rent from the home farm at Kinnordy, Lyell was left with a smaller income than he would have had if he had inherited the estate and each of his siblings had received an annuity. Prior to this, Lyell had an adequate income from his publications and the £500 annual allowance from his marriage settlement. See L. G. Wilson 1998, pp. 312–13.
Lyell Sr had been a close friend of Hooker’s father, William Jackson Hooker. The Kinnordy estate was burdened with debt, and Lyell Sr had mortgaged most of the land in 1840 for £30,000 (L. G. Wilson 1998, pp. 312). At his death in 1849, he had three sons (his third son, Henry Lyell, an army officer, had been severely wounded at the battle of Sobraon in India in 1847) and five daughters (L. G. Wilson 1972, pp. 546–7; L. G. Wilson 1998, pp. 267).
Hooker’s father-in-law, William Samuel Symonds, was rector of Pendock, Worcestershire.


Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1918. Life and letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, OM, GCSI. Based on materials collected and arranged by Lady Hooker. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Index Kewensis: Index Kewensis: plantarum phanerogamarum, nomina et synonyma omnium generum et specierum … nomine recepto auctore patria unicuique plantae subjectis. 4 vols., and 20 supplements. Compiled by Benjamin Daydon Jackson, et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 1893–1996.

Lyell, Katharine Murray, ed. 1881. Life, letters and journals of Sir Charles Lyell, Bart. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Steudel, Ernst Gottlieb. 1841. Nomenclator botanicus: seu: synonymia plantarum universalis, enumerans ordine alphabetico nomina atque synonyma, tum generica tum specifica, et a Linnaeo et a recentioribus de re botanica scriptoribus plantis phanerogamis imposita. 2d edition. 2 parts. Stuttgart and Tübingen: J. G. Cotta.

Wilson, Leonard Gilchrist. 1972. Charles Lyell. The years to 1841: the revolution in geology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Wilson, Leonard Gilchrist. 1998. Lyell in America: transatlantic geology, 1841–1853. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.


Benjamin D. Jackson will edit new Steudel’s Nomenclator.

JDH’s impressions of Lyell’s Life and letters, edited by Mrs K. M. Lyell [1881].

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 173–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13557,” accessed on 15 July 2024,