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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Hardy to Luke Hindmarsh   [8 May 1861]1

Chillingham Castle | Alnwick.

Dear Sir

In reply to yours of the 6th. inst.2 I cannot give you the particulars of what have been slaughtered of the Wild Cattle, since 1838, as they have only been in my charge for 10 years, during which time, I think the average number slaughtered, and killed by fighting, accidents &c, is about 10 a year, as Lord Tankervilli3 wished the standing number to be 50.4

Fifteen months ago, Lord T— desired that the number should be increased to 70, since that time we have not slaughtered any; but three full grown bulls, have been killed by fighting, two others have been killed upon account of their old age, three calves have died from accidental deaths, getting into ditches &c, and at this time the Herd have increased to 59; this will shew you, free from accidents, and increase of 14 in fifteen months.

I do not perceive since I have known them, which is now 30 years, any indications of their diminishing in size, or in any of their peculiar characteristics, as I have kept an account of the weights of the slaughtered, for the last 10 years and they keep up to their average weight.—

Yours &c &c

CD annotations

Bottom of letter: ‘To L Hindmarsh Esqr   May 8th 61/ | Hardy’ ink
Verso of letter: ‘Chillingham Cattle’ pencil, underl pencil


The date is given by CD’s annotation.
Hindmarsh had written to Hardy at CD’s instigation. See letter to Luke Hindmarsh, 3 May [1861]. William Hardy was bailiff to Lord Ossulston, son of the earl of Tankerville (Post Office directory of Northumberland 1858).
Chillingham Castle was the seat of Charles Augustus Bennet, earl of Tankerville. The copyist erred in transcribing the name.
CD quoted this information in Variation 2: 119 as part of the discussion of the good effects of crossing and the detrimental effects of close interbreeding.


Post Office directory of Northumberland: Post Office directory of Westmoreland, Cumberland, Northumberland, and Durham. London: Kelly and Co. 1858.

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


Sends data on numbers of "wild" cattle in the herd on the estate of Lord Tankerville that have been killed by fighting, accidents, etc. He does not perceive that the cattle have diminished in size.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Hardy
Luke Hindmarsh
Sent from
Chillingham Castle
Source of text
DAR 46.1: 92
Physical description
1p †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3142,” accessed on 27 February 2021,

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