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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Laurence Edmondston   19 April [1857]1

April 19th

My dear Sir

I ought to have written sooner to have thanked you for the very fine Pigeons received per post, a few days ago;2 but as there was a scrap, inside saying that you intended writing, so I delayed, but I will delay no longer thanking you cordially for all the very kind trouble which you have taken to oblige me.— The specimen was very fine & very valuable to me, for there were several little points, which I had omitted to observe in the former specimen.

I shall certainly not want to trouble for any other specimen of Pigeon.— I see you most kindly note that the Rabbit is not forgotten. I shd. be very glad to know whether there is any tradition of the introduction of the Rabbit. If you ever have any information on the domestication of wild Rock Pigeons in the Shetland Isld. I shd be very glad to hear.3 Likewise whether birds chequered with black marks all over wing coverts & back are ever met with in wild state.— Graba states that this is the case in Färoe.—4 And Col. King near Hythe near Hythe has stock of Dovecots which he informs me, are all descended from wild young procured in the Hebrides, & these are all chequered; but he cannot remember whether they were so at first now more than 20 years ago.5

With my very sincere thanks for all your kindness, I remain, my dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letters to Laurence Edmondston, 11 September [1856] and 2 August [1857], both of which discuss specimens from the Shetland Islands.
CD had asked Edmondston to send him a rock pigeon (Columba livia) and, if possible, a rabbit from the Shetland Islands in his letter to Laurence Edmondston, 11 September [1856].
Graba 1830, which CD recorded having read on 2 April 1856 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 18).
CD included this information in Variation 1: 184, where he stated: ‘Colonel King, of Hythe, stocked his dovecot with young wild birds which he himself procured from nests at the Orkney Islands; and several specimens, kindly sent to me by him, were all plainly chequered.’


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

Graba, Karl Julian. 1830. Tagebuch, geführt auf einer Reise nach Färö im Jahre 1828. Hamburg.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Thanks for pigeon.

Are there Shetland birds chequered with black marks, as Carl Julian Graba states are in Faeroes [Reise nach Färö (1830)] and Col. King in the Hebrides?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Laurence Edmondston
Sent from
Source of text
L. D. Edmondston (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2079,” accessed on 3 July 2020,

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