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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. D. Fox   8 March [1856]1

Delamere | Northwich

March 8

My dear Darwin

I have anxiously inspected My Dorking & Cochin friends Yards for an old Cock of Each, & written to Captain Hornby2 —but I fear you have not received any yet. There must be some die before long I think.

Have you a Sebright Bantam yet?3 If not I have an old Gentleman I will send you shortly. You should have an old White Dorking also, as they are quite distinct from the other in form.

I forget whether I ever told you that I had long considered the Scotch Deer Hound a mongrel, par Excellence. Dont tell any Scotch so, or I shall be murdered. It has long been a pet idea of mine, & I have often said I could breed them without any Deer Hound blood in them. I have also always thought the Irish Deer or Wolf Dog, was merely a cross with the Scotch & a Mastiff.

Some months ago in a conversation on this head with a Mr Lister near here,4 he told me to my great delight that he had a Bitch 12 Deer Hound & 12 Mastiff. On looking at her it is wonderful how little the 12 Mastiff is recognisable in her. On minutely examining however, you find her mastiff Blood in neck & shoulder. I much wished this Bitch crossed back with Deer Hound. This has been done, & the result, as shown in a splendid Bitch puppy, is to completely restore the Scotch Deer Hound. I dined there last week, & met a stranger who was enthusiastic about Scotch Dogs—of which by the way he gave a pretty story as having happened to himself. Walking one day in Regent St. he felt something cold in his hand, & on looking, found a Scotch Dogs nose there, who had been with him Deer stalking &c 2 years before in the Highlands, & was then walking in London with his Master.

Lister, rather spitefully introduced me to this Captain Warren5 —as being one who believed in the Scotch Dogs being mongrels. Of course I maintained my ground, when, to my intense amusement he (after warning me not to go to Scotland & especially Badenoch,6 with such views) quoted the puppy as an Example of pure blood, as might be seen by any one, & which he said was well worth 40£. He was so enthusiastic that I was obliged to break the fact by degrees, “that her Grandfather was a Mastiff.”

I am trying now to get the 12 breed Scotch & Mastiff Bitch put to a pure Mastiff—& I expect either the produce of that—or the next cross at all events, to be the Irish Wolf Dog.

I would defy any Scot to detect the false blood in this puppy Bitch— She is quite a perfect Scotch Deer Hound.

I see Tegetmeyer—or some such name, who doctors all the Fowls in England—says he is engaged with you in examining the anatomy of Fowls.7 He seems to know a great deal about them from his letters in Cottage Gardener—but I often think his prescriptions rather foolish. You are not meddling with Geese I think yet, are you.

Tell me how Mrs Darwin & your little ones all are—also Susan Catherine & Mrs Wedgwood8 & Believe me always Yours affecly W D. Fox.

CD annotations

crossed brown crayon
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Top of first page: ‘16’9 brown crayon


The letter is dated by its relationship to the letter to W. D. Fox, 15 March [1856].
Windham W. Hornby of Knowsley, Lancashire, was a prominent breeder of Dorking fowl.
CD had asked John Lubbock for specimens of Sebright bantams (letter to John Lubbock, [14 January 1856]).
The Post Office directory of Cheshire (1857) lists ‘E. Lister, esq., Marston, Northwich’.
Captain Warren has not been identified.
A district near Inverness, Scotland.
In the report on the ‘Annual grand show of the Philo-Peristeron Society’, Cottage Gardener 15 (1855–6): 301, it was stated that ‘Mr. Yarrell, whose name is a “household word” with all zoologists, and Mr. Darwin, whose “Naturalist’s Voyage round the World” is known all over the world, were present, and with our old correspondent, Mr. Tegetmeier, were examining bird after bird, with a view to ascertain some of those differences on which the distinction between species or varieties depend.’ It is likely that William Bernhard Tegetmeier, who wrote a regular column for this journal on the diseases of poultry, was the author.
CD’s sisters, Susan Elizabeth Darwin, Emily Catherine Darwin, and Caroline Sarah Wedgwood.
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on hybridism.


Post Office directory of Cheshire: Post Office directory of Cheshire. Kelly’s directory of Cheshire. London: Kelly & Co. 1857–1902.


Is trying to procure some cocks for CD.

Believes Scotch deerhounds are mongrels.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 174
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1646,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6