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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   25 [August 1859]1



My dear William

I was very glad to get your last pleasant note; but sincerely grieved about the news of your other ancle. It is a serious misfortune, which you seem to bear well. I earnestly hope that you will be very careful & on no account use it much.— It is now clear you must consult some eminent surgeon & I will pay Fee. I will soon write & consult Mr Williams of Bromley for address of best, & you must go there on your return home.—2 We shall be most heartily glad to see you & do not delay longer than necessary. The little chaps hurraed, when they heard that you would soon return. I hope as you grow older that the ligament of your ancle will become more rigid: but it is clear that every caution & aid must be applied. I am extremely sorry about it.—

Let us know whenever your day of return is fixed.—

We all went on Saturday to Leith-Hill & I went for rest-sake, as I had become rather bad.3 I returned on Tuesday, & the children yesterday. Mamma was detained by Etty not being quite well, but will, I hope come to night.4 Leith H. was looking beautiful.— I get on very slow with my accursed book; & end of September is very earliest possible time for me to finish; but I daresay I shall be later.

Do you see Times? there has been wonderful account of gigantic fraud carried on for above 70 years by the Stainton family, & I fear the Lipidopterist must be implicated!5

Old Botanic Garden Dr. Darwin, had an illegitimate daughter, who married a surgeon Mr. Hadley, & your Miss H. must be daughter or granddaughter of this surgeon.—6 You had better not mention this—

It will be very jolly having some billiards with you.— Georgy will be cock of the walk before long: he played some games excellently.— He has not touched Heraldry this holidays; I am glad to say; but was very keen after Lepidoptera—7

My dearest Gulielmus. | Your affect Father | C. Darwin


Dated by the reference to the family visiting Leith Hill Place (see n. 3, below).
E. A. Williams, surgeon in Bromley. William had recently begun a reading trip in the Lake District (see letters to W. E. Darwin, [5 May 1859] and 7 July [1859]).
Emma Darwin’s diary records that the children went to Leith Hill Place, the home of Caroline Sarah Wedgwood and Josiah Wedgwood III, on 19 August 1859. CD and Emma joined them on 20 August.
Emma and Henrietta Emma Darwin returned to Down on 25 August 1859 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
The case involving the family of Henry Tibbats Stainton was reported in The Times, 11 July 1859, p. 10. CD had suggested that Stainton might assist William when he first began to study Lepidoptera (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to W. E. Darwin, [25 April 1855]).
CD’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin had two natural daughters by Mary Parker after his first wife died. Susanna Parker (born 1772) and Mary Parker (born 1774) grew up in the Darwin household. In 1794, Erasmus Darwin established the Misses Parker as the proprietors of a school for girls in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, which prompted him to publish A plan for the conduct of female education in boarding schools in 1797. Susanna Parker married a leading surgeon of Derby, Henry Hadley. See King-Hele 1986, pp. 9, 13, and Pearson 1930, pp. 154–5. Susanna was the mother of Elizabeth Susanna (Eliza) Hadley, who died unmarried in 1857, and Henry Hadley Jr, who married in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1851. Susanna also brought up her niece, Elizabeth Anne Hadley, who married Richard Greaves in 1854.
George Howard Darwin had long had an interest in heraldry (see Correspondence vol. 5, letters to W. E. Darwin, 3 October [1851] and 24 [February 1852]). George had begun collecting butterflies and moths in 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to G. R. Waterhouse, 8 July [1855]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

King-Hele, Desmond. 1986. Erasmus Darwin and the Romantic poets. London: Macmillan.

Pearson, Hesketh. 1930. Doctor Darwin. London and Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons.


Writes of a visit to Leith Hill and WED’s injured ankle.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 47
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2483,” accessed on 21 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7