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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. W. Lubbock   27 May [1856]1


May 27th

Dear Sir John Lubbock

I hope that you will forgive me troubling you, & this note requires no answer.— I believe that you are interested in the University of London & have influence there.— My friend, Mr. Huxley F.R.S. is a candidate for the Examinership in Physiology & Comp: Anatomy vacant by Dr. Carpenter’s resignation.—2 He has asked me to write in his favour, & I can do this most conscientiously, for his merits in these particular branches of Natural Science, are of the highest order.3 I think if you will ask your Son he will agree with me in this.—4

He is Palæontologist in the Museum of Practical Geology, & they have never selected any but the best men.— He has lately been lecturing on Physiology at the Royal Institution. He has published several papers in the Phil: Transact, on comparative anatomy which papers were honoured by the Royal Medal, & have been translated into German.— His acquaintance with foreign literature in Nat. History is remarkably accurate & extensive. And lastly he gained when a medical Student in London the Gold Medal for Physiology.5

I hope that you will forgive my bringing Mr. Huxley’s claims to your attention, & pray believe me, | Your’s very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I was extremely sorry that I was not able to come to dinner yesterday.—


See the letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1856]for the basis of this date.
William Benjamin Carpenter resigned his lectureships and other offices when he was appointed registrar of London University (DNB). The university was primarily an administrative and examining body (EB).
Thomas Henry Huxley was appointed to the examinership on 9 July 1856, a position he held until 1870 (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 148, and Pingree 1968, p. 59).
Huxley and John Lubbock shared common interests in the morphology of invertebrates. They had recently been guests at CD’s house (see letter to John Lubbock, 24 April [1856]).
Huxley won a gold medal for anatomy and physiology upon his graduation in 1845 from London University (DNB).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Pingree, Jeanne. 1968. Thomas Henry Huxley: a list of his scientific notebooks, drawings and other papers, preserved in the college archives. London: Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. [Vols. 6,11]


Asks JWL to use his influence to forward the appointment of T. H. Huxley to the Examinership in Physiology and Comparative Anatomy at University of London. Gives details of THH’s qualifications.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John William Lubbock, 3d baronet
Sent from
Source of text
The Royal Society (LUB: D23)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1877,” accessed on 8 October 2023,

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