skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

CD memorandum   [December 1855]1

– Skins Any domestic breed or race, of Poultry, Pigeons, Rabbits, Cats, & even dogs, if not too large, which has been bred for many generations in any little visited region, would be of great value, or even if recently imported from any unfrequented region. It wd. be necessary to notice & select a characteristic specimen of adult animals of any breed.— In Poultry both cock & hen & especially the cock shd. be procured. The whole humerus & femur, & as much as possible of the cranium shd. be left on the skins.— Each specimen of shd be ticketed with native name, habitat & any procurable information. Specimens not bred for many generations in domestication are of no value.— I have written to for Pigeon & Poultry Skins2 diag Thwaites & Kellaert Ceylon.3 R. Fortune E. Blyth W. Vines India4 Sir R. Schomburgk5 Dr Nicholson, Antigua Th Bridges Panama Dr. Sutherland Natal E. Layard Cape of G. Hope6 J. C. Bowring Hong Kong7 Rajah Sir J. Brooke R. Wallace8 Dr Daniel Gambia9 Rev N. Davis Tunis10 Hon. C. Murray Persia11 Through Mr. Stephens for S. America12 Col. Sykes for E. Africa Consul Brand Angola,13 or Mr Gabriel Mr Parkes— Amoy14 R. Hill Spanish Town Jamaica15 Arabia/? East Africa/ Mr J. C. Bowring of Hong Kong has written16

to Mr Swinhoe of consulate at Amoy

to Dr Macgowan at Ningpo

Dr. W. A. Harland at Hong Kong to whom Mr Fortune has written Mr Fortune has written for me to & I have written to

Dr. Lockhart of Shanghai letters to care of Mss Dent,

& Ed. Webb Esqe of do Beal & Co of Hong Kong.

returned home17 Lieut Ferguson. Bombay. Mr Peter Wallace. [Farm Superintendant] Ascension.18 Rob. Swinhoe has promised specs from Amoy. W. Elliott19 says pigeons are on Roadramme


The first part of this memorandum is a draft of a communication sent over a number of months to the individuals listed subsequently. CD evidently composed it during December 1855 as an aide-mémoire. The earliest known letter to an individual on CD’s list is letter to E. L. Layard, 9 December 1855, but see also letters to G. H. K. Thwaites, 10 December 1855, to C. A. Murray, 24 December 1855, and to Norton Shaw, secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, 25 December [1855].
The list was written in ink on a separate piece of paper and at some time glued to the verso of the memorandum. CD subsequently made alterations in pencil (see nn. 4, 14, and 17, below).
George Henry Kendrick Thwaites and probably Edward Frederick Kelaart, both of Ceylon. See letter to G. H. K. Thwaites, 10 December 1855.
‘s India’ was added by CD in pencil. William Vine was an officer in the Madras cavalry.
Robert Hermann Schomburgk.
See letter to E. L. Layard, 9 December 1855.
Sir John Bowring, governor of Hong Kong from 1854.
Alfred Russel Wallace, who had left England in 1854 to collect natural history specimens in the Malay archipelago.
See Correspondence vol. 6, letter from William Freeman Daniell, 8 October – 7 November 1856.
Nathan Davis.
Possibly John Crace Stevens, who was an auctioneer and natural history dealer at 38 King Street, Covent Garden, London.
George Brand. See letter to H. N. Shaw, secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, 25 December [1855].
This entry was added in pencil by CD. Harry Smith Parkes was in government service in China, 1841–65.
CD’s list was continued on a separate piece of paper that was pinned to the above list.
CD added ‘returned home’ in pencil and crossed out Edward Webb’s name in pencil.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Requests skins of domestic breeds or races of poultry, pigeons, rabbits, cats, and dogs from any unfrequented region. [Attached is a list of people to whom CD has written for pigeon and poultry skins.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 206: 34–5
Physical description
Adraft 1p, list 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1812,” accessed on 26 January 2020,

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