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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Luke Hindmarsh   3 May [1861]1

Down, Bromley, Kent. S.E.

May 3rd


I hope that you will excuse the liberty which I take in writing to you. Several years ago I was very much interested by your excellent memoir on the wild Chillingham cattle.2 I am very anxious for information on one point; but whether you still retain interest on the subject, or could spare time to give or obtain for me this information, I know not. The point is the average number of animals which are annually killed. I presume that some account is kept, and it must be known how many have been killed during the last half-dozen or dozen years. When you wrote the herd was about 80; and I should wish to know how many during any period in which the slaughtered animals have been recorded, existed. My object is to ascertain the rate of increase of these cattle relatively to those on the Pampas in S. America.3

Hoping that you will forgive the liberty which I take and grant me this favour, I beg leave to remain | Sir | Your obliged and obedt servt. | Charles Darwin

I saw a translation of the greater part of your paper lately in a French Periodical.4


Hindmarsh 1839. The citation was sent to CD by William Yarrell (see Correspondence vol. 2, letter from William Yarrell, [December 1838]).
CD’s interest in the Chillingham cattle arose both from their supposed similarity to the extinct Bos primigenius and from the example they provided of a breed long subject to interbreeding. See Variation 1: 81, 83–4,-4; see also letter from William Hardy to Luke Hindmarsh, [8 May 1861] and n. 4, and letter to Luke Hindmarsh, 12 May [1861] and nn. 3 and 4.
The journal in question has not been traced.


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

Hindmarsh, Luke. 1839. On the wild cattle of Chillingham Park. Annals of Natural History 2: 274–84.

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


Asks how many wild Chillingham cattle are killed each year. Interested in rate of increase.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Luke Hindmarsh
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 145
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3137,” accessed on 6 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9