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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. W. Lubbock   28 March [1854]


March 28th

Dear Sir John

I am very sorry to find myself in opposition to you regarding the appointment of a Guardian,1 which I heard of only on Saturday night. When I nominated Mr. Innes,2 I had not the least idea that the place was desired by anyone, or that there was any chance of opposition, otherwise assuredly I would first have consulted you. From all I have seen of Mr Innes’ conduct towards the poor & sick, I think he would make an excellent Guardian.—

I may mention that last year Mr. Innes asked me whether I would stand as Guardian, & when I refused, he proposed to me to nominate him, which I did,—he having heard from Mr. W. Fox Junr.,3 that Mr. Smith4 wished to resign. This proved to be a misapprehension on Mr. Fox’s part; & as soon as Mr Innes heard this, he withdrew my nomination, & in place sent in a fresh nomination for Mr. Smith.— Under these circumstances Mr. Innes is not now willing to withdraw.— I have now told you everything about the transaction, as far as I know or am concerned with it.—

Perhaps you will attend the Vestry,5 where I hope to be tomorrow, & will communicate with me on the subject.

Pray believe me dear Sir John, | Your’s faithfully | Charles Darwin Sir John W. Lubbock Bart | &c &c

You will, I suppose, have heard that Mr Smith of Down Court has likewise been nominated as Guardian by Mr. Ainslie.—6


Elected to represent the civil parish in the poor law union; Down was part of the poor law union of Bromley.
John Innes, perpetual curate of Down.
Mr. W. Fox: probably William Beardsworth Fox, a landed proprietor listed in Down in the 1851 census (Census returns of England and Wales 1851 (The National Archives: Public Record Office HO107/1606/253/16).
Either John or Josiah Smith of Court Farm, opposite Down House (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1855).
‘An assembly or meeting of the parishioners or a certain number of these, held usually in the vestry of the parish church, for the purpose of deliberating upon the affairs of the parish or upon certain temporal matters concerned with the church’ (OED).


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Distressed to find himself in conflict with JWL on appointment of a Guardian [for the parish].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John William Lubbock, 3d baronet
Sent from
Source of text
The Royal Society (LUB: D20)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1563,” accessed on 19 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5