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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Henry Tibbats Stainton   13 April [1856]1

Down Bromley Kent

April 13th

Private Dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for so courteously sending me a copy of “Entomologist Weekly Intelligencer”.—2 I do not suppose that I ought to mention anything which passed on the Council. But I may say that I individually have nothing to object to in your remarks.—3 I can see, however, that apparently you are not aware of a most important change made 3 years ago, with consent of the Queen, in the distribution of the Royal Medals; before that time it was compulsory in the Council to give it to men for publications in the Transactions, & this will explain, if you take the trouble to look at the names, the cause of many of the awards.— It was, I think, an extremely bad rule. Hence I think you will perceive why, except to Mr Newport, no medal was given to an Entomologist.4

Since the rule was changed, the 3 recipients have been myself, (when I was not on council) Dr Hooker, & Mr. Westwood.5 As I have been a recipient, of course I can say nothing whether or no the awards have been well, or atrociously ill made; but this I can say that the Council take great trouble in deciding, & a most difficult & disagreeable task it is to perform.—

Pray believe me | Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


Dated by the reference to the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer, which began publication on 5 April 1856.
Stainton was the founder and editor of the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer. He had previously corresponded with CD about another entomological publication of his, the Entomologists’ Annual (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to H. T. Stainton, 20 October [1855]).
The second number of the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (12 April 1856) opened with an unsigned editorial, clearly written by Stainton, entitled ‘Why did Mr. Westwood get the Royal Medal?’. John Obadiah Westwood had been awarded the medal in 1855 (see n. 5, below). Stainton thought the award was long overdue and complained that Westwood’s most famous contribution to science had been published many years previously (Westwood 1839–40). He concluded that the recent recognition of Westwood’s merits was because entomology was now ‘more prominent than formerly’ ([Stainton] 1856, p. 9–10).
George Newport was awarded the Royal Medal in 1851, not for his entomological work but for his physiological investigations in Newport 1851, which had been published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. None of Westwood’s papers had appeared in the Philosophical Transactions.
It had been CD who had nominated Westwood for the Royal Medal in 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to T. H. Huxley, 31 March [1855]). In his nomination text, CD had cited Westwood’s ‘Introduction’ (Westwood 1839–40) and his ‘various Monographs and Papers on Entomology’ (Royal Society council minutes). However, since Westwood 1839–40 had been published more than ten years previously, under the new rules it had to be excluded from the citation.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Newport, George. 1851. On the impregnation of the ovum in the Amphibia. (First series.) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London pt 1, pp. 169–242.

[Stainton, Henry Tibbats]. 1856. Why did Mr Westwood get the Royal Medal? Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer, 12 April 1856, pp. 9–10.

Westwood, John Obadiah. 1839–40. An introduction to the modern classification of insects; founded on the natural habits and corresponding organisation of the different families. 2 vols. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman.


Thanks HTS for Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer [no. 2, 12 Apr 1856]. Agrees with his remarks [in "Why did Mr Westwood get the Royal Medal?"], but explains that a change in rules for awarding the Royal Medal has been made. Earlier it had to be given for publications in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, which explains small number of entomologist recipients.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Tibbats Stainton
Sent from
Source of text
Natural History Museum, Library and Archives (General Special Collections MSS DAR 16)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1853,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

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