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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton to Charles John Andersson   [after 22 February 1855]1


Number of distinct breeds viz (Cape?) Namaqua Damara Bechuana. (Ovampo buy & import)2

Characteristics of these; height, colour: horns ([Back] [Kopfs]— some Hottentot Ian [Ross] or someonse else is noted for a breed of these) feet, temper. (sicknesses?) (If Damara cattle die in the Colony?. They do in St Helena)3

Price of bulls compared to oxen— The Namaquas set store upon good Damara bulls   do the Bechuanas? Admiration in which fine cattle are held by the Damaras &c—do they take any particular means to weed out the bad ones? . . . . . & to breed good ones?

Colored teams of oxen. to match— In describing, compare as much as possible to the different well known English breeds.

Goats—large ones, like what Hans had.4 small, ordinary breed—the very small ones are rare in Ovampo land.—color &c.

Sheep. Wool hair—tails—colour—size—horns.5

Dogs native breeds, are there any. Good dogs especially prized.6

Dear Andersson,

I wrote to Charles Darwin saying that you would be glad, before long, to give him any information you possessed about native breeds of cattle, and that I was sure you would be a most reliable authority, as you had had so much to do with them.7 He sends me the enclosed note to forward to you; & on the top of this bit of paper I have jotted down a few heads of enquiry as they come into my mind— You will doubtless add more.8

Ever yours | Francis Galton


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Francis Galton, 22 February [1855] (this volume, Supplement).
CD had asked Galton several questions about the breeding of domestic animals in South Africa. See this volume, Supplement, letter to Francis Galton, 22 February [1855]. Damara, Bechuana, Namaqua, and Ovampo were the names of peoples, and by association, regions of southern Africa. Bechuanaland is now Botswana. Damaraland, Namaqualand, and Ovampo are regions of Namibia. CD described Namaqua, Damara, and Bechuana cattle in Variation 1: 88.
No letter from Andersson concerning cattle has been found, but he describes Damara, Bechuana, and Namaqua cattle in Andersson 1856, pp. 315–36. The Colony is Cape Colony, South Africa.
Hans Larsen was in charge of Galton’s livestock in Africa, including goats (Galton 1853, p. 75).
For Galton and Andersson’s descriptions of the Damara sheep they kept in Africa, see Galton 1853, pp. 242–3, and Andersson 1856, p. 232.
For Andersson’s descriptions of Namaqua dogs, see Andersson 1856, pp. 284–5.
Galton’s letter has not been found. Andersson traded cattle in Africa during his expeditions between 1850 and 1854 (Andersson 1856).
Galton enclosed CD’s letter to him of 22 February [1855] (this volume, Supplement).


Andersson, Charles John. 1856. Lake Ngami: or, explorations and discoveries during four years’ wanderings in the wilds of South Western Africa. London: Hurst and Blackett.

Galton, Francis. 1853. The narrative of an explorer in tropical South Africa. London: John Murray.


Sends on CD’s list of enquiries about native breeds of animals in South Africa.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
Charles John (Carl Johann) Andersson
Source of text
National Library of South Africa, Cape Town
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1554G,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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