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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Higgins   26 December 1859

Down Bromley Kent

Dec 26th/59

My dear Sir

For the sake of my sons I wish if possible to buy a little more land.—1 I have £17,000 in Ry. Bonds, which I could at any time immediately convert into money during the next two years; & by the latter part of this period I shall have £2000 or £3000 more which I could invest in land; or I could raise this additional amount at any time.— My object is to leave to each of my sons about 10,000 in value of Land, so that I do not at all care for the land being in one lot. I should greatly prefer its being in your neighbourhood, so as to be under your care & hereafter under your son’s, together with my own & sister’s & Brother’s land which will ultimately come to my sons.—2 I should prefer the land not being low & requiring embankment & artificial drainage, as in some degree liable to costly accidents.

Now will you have the kindness to inform me whether you think it at all likely that you could meet with land of value from £17000 to £20,000 during the next two years.

I am well aware that I cannot at all expect high interest for land; but I must look at any purchase as in some degree of the nature of a profitable investment.— You must have many clients who have far higher claims on your consideration than I can have, who have indeed none except my Fathers friendship for you;3 therefore it is quite possible that you may have to look out for small pieces of land for others, in which case I should have small chance of suceeding in making a fairly good investment. May I trespass on your kindness so far as to ask whether this is the case.

Once before I requested you to look out for land, but before you found any I changed my mind;4 you need not fear my changing my mind this time, for I write now after deliberation & for my sons’ sakes.5

Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. R. Darwin J. Higgins Esqe


John Higgins had acted as CD’s land agent since 1845, when Robert Waring Darwin bought, on CD’s behalf, a farm in Beesby, Lincolnshire (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to WD. Fox, [24 April 1845]). Higgins managed the farm and collected the rent for CD.
CD refers to the farmlands owned by Susan Elizabeth Darwin and Erasmus Alvey Darwin. Being unmarried, the property of Susan and Erasmus would automatically revert to CD on their deaths, and thence to his sons.
Higgins was born in Shrewsbury and moved to Alford, Lincolnshire, in 1819. He acted as R. W. Darwin’s agent until the latter’s death in 1848.
See Correspondence vol. 5, letter to John Higgins, 18 March [1845].
CD purchased additional farmland in Lincolnshire in 1860. See Correspondence vol. 8, letters to John Higgins, 13 June [1860] and 21 June [1860].


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


Discusses purchase of additional land.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Higgins
Sent from
Source of text
Lincolnshire Archives (HIG/4/2/3/2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2605,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

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