skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. C. Eyton   12 [May 1861 – April 1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.


Dear Eyton

I am particularly obliged to you for telling me about your crossed pigs; but the other day I was wishing to know how it would be.— When your young crossed pigs are pretty well grown up, I should very much like to hear what they are like & whether they resemble each other.—2

I doubt from what I have heard, whether your half-bred G. Sonneratii will be productive, yet I was assured many years ago that this once occurred—3

With many thanks, | Dear Eyton | Believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The date is established by the style of the printed stationery, which is a type that CD started using in May 1861, and by the fact that CD refers to having heard of fertile hybrids of Gallus sonneratii ‘many years ago’ (see also n. 3, below). In 1862, hybrids of G. sonneratii and G. bankiva (assumed to be the domestic fowl) were shown to have limited fertility at the Zoological Gardens in London (S. J. A. Salter 1863). CD reported these findings in Variation 1: 234, citing S. J. A. Salter 1863, which was published in the April issue of Natural History Review. After April 1863, one would expect CD to refer Eyton to John William Salter’s publication.
No further information on Eyton’s crossed pigs has been found. CD and Eyton had corresponded in 1856 about the offspring of an African pig, belonging to Rowland Hill, and a common pig (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to T. C. Eyton, 21 August [1856]).
See Correspondence vol. 10, letter from T. C. Eyton, [after 19 May 1862?]; the ‘jungle fowl’ mentioned in that letter (to which this letter may be a reply) may have been Gallus sonneratii. In Natural selection, p. 435 n. 12, CD wrote, ‘several years ago I myself saw at the Zoological Gardens young birds, which were the offspring of hybrids inter se from a Sonnerat cock & Bantam Hen’. (Natural selection, the manuscript of CD’s ‘big book’ on species, was written between 1856 and 1858.) See also Variation 1: 234, where CD also cited Edward Blyth for information about Gallus sonneratii crossing with domestic hens in India.


Salter, Samuel James Augustus. 1863. Note on the fertility, inter se, of hybrids of different species of the genus Gallus. Natural History Review n.s. 3: 276–9.


Thanks TCE for telling him of his crossed pigs. When they are grown, he would like to know whether they resemble each other.

Doubts the half-bred Gallus sonnerati will be productive, though he was assured many years ago that such a fertile half-breed once occurred.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Sent from
Source of text
Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, University of Birmingham (EYT/1/45)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13804,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)