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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   22 October [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

Oct 22d.

My dear William

The enclosed letter about the lease concerns you.2 Of course I do not charge you in my will, interest on the £4500.—3

Today Mr John Smith called with message from Mr Fox, that you had promised subscription for prize for Rifle shooting:4 I did not know what to do, but said I thought as Captain you ought to give rather more than others & asked Mr Fox to settle & I would pay him.—5 It was dreadful bad day today for the match; as it rained torrents & blew; but our little Boys stood it out & said the men did not care for it. Berens was there.—6 Down came off triumphant.— Town got first prize scoring eleven: John Fox second prize; & Parslow third of a sovereign.—7 We are all proud & pleased, & James looked triumphant when he told me.— Mr Smith spoke very strongly, & sincerely I believe, what a loss you would be, as you made such a good Captain.—8

I have been looking over my Banking Book & the cheque for 1.1.0 to Mr Fletcher Lutwege has never been drawn at the Bank to this day; & as it was dated on June 10th.; it must either have been lost or Mr Lutwege never wanted the money.—9 Did he ever acknowledge it? If not, perhaps it would be worth while your writing to him, as he would think you shabby never noticing his letter; but if you do not care, I do not.— I think it would have been presented before this, if not lost or stolen by some one who feared to use it.—

I am alone: Etty went up yesterday & Mamma today to London, for the Concert.—10 We had jolly Letters from the Boys, & George has suddenly become a first rate correspondent. He is mad to see all your letters; & they want to know whether Southampton is a very dangerous place for garrotting!!—11

I hope I shall hear from you tomorrow. I am getting rested after 10 days tremendous work with Mr Sowerby.12 I have just had a splendid Orchis, which shoots out its pollen-masses like an arrow on to insect.—

We are in despair about Horses & cannot get a pair that will do.—

Good Night | My dear old fellow | C. Darwin


Dated by the reference to the London concert and to the illustrations for Orchids (see nn. 10 and 12, below).
The enclosure has not been found. The letter was probably from CD’s solicitors, Rowland and Hacon, of Fenchurch Street, London (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 12 October [1861]).
Upon joining the Southampton and Hampshire Bank as partner, William was required to deposit £4500 as a guarantee of probity. CD advanced William this amount out of the total sum he was to receive as an inheritance (Down House MS 11: 16 and CD’s will).
CD refers to John Smith of Court Farm, Down (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862). Thomas Samuel Fox was ensign for the Rifle Volunteer Corps for Farnborough, Kent, of which William Darwin was captain. The corps had been formed in 1859 (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Lubbock, 17 December [1859]). In June 1861, CD had paid £1. 1s. 6d. as the ‘Commission for William Captaincy’. For information about the volunteer movement, see Beckett 1982.
There is an entry in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) recording a payment to the ‘Rifle Corps’ for £1. 10s. on 9 November 1861.
Edward Osmond Berens was lieutenant of the Farnborough Rifle Volunteer Corps.
Daniel Town, a carpenter in Down, is listed in the Post Office directory of the six home counties for 1862. John Fox belonged to the firm Fox & Sons, brewers and maltsters, of Farnborough, Kent, and was T. S. Fox’s brother. The Darwins’ butler, Joseph Parslow, had joined the Rifle Club at its foundation (Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Lubbock, 17 December [1859]).
William Darwin had recently moved to Southampton and was planning to resign his commission in the Farnborough Rifle Volunteer Corps.
There is an entry in CD’s Account book on 6 June 1861 that reads: ‘Prize for Rifle shooting F. Lutwidge 1/1/’. Charles R. Fletcher Lutwidge was a lieutenant in the Tunbridge Wells corps of the Kent Rifle Volunteers. See also letter to W. E. Darwin, [27 October 1861].
Emma and Henrietta Emma Darwin attended a performance of Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Elijah oratorio at Exeter Hall, London, on Tuesday evening, 22 October 1861 (Emma Darwin’s diary). The major attraction of this performance was the return to the London stage of Johanna Maria Lind, also known as Jenny Lind (Athenæum, 26 October 1861, p. 548).
Francis and George Howard Darwin, aged thirteen and sixteen, respectively, attended Clapham Grammar School in Clapham, south-west London. According to the Annual register (1852), Chronicle, pp. 78–9: ‘The crime of robbery by means of suffocation, and known as “garotte”, from the Spanish mode of execution, have become exceedingly common’.
George Brettingham Sowerby Jr had been at Down House preparing the illustrations for Orchids (see letters to W. E. Darwin, 12 October [1861], and to John Murray, [21 October 1861]).


Annual register: The annual register. A view of the history and politics of the year. 1838–62. The annual register. A review of public events at home and abroad. N.s. 1863–1946. London: Longman & Co. [and others].

Beckett, Ian Frederick William. 1982. Riflemen form. A study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement, 1859–1908. Aldershot: The Ogilby Trusts.

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

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Tells of a shooting competition at Down.

Has been working hard at orchid drawings with G. B. Sowerby, Jr.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 80
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3294,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

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