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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes   16 December [1862]1

Milton Brodie | Forres | NB.

Decr. 16th.

Dear Darwin,

When I left Downe I could not find Johnny’s Savings Bank book.2 It had been put away with other papers and has only now turned up. Will you be so kind as to have it made up and returned to me.

I hope its absence has not increased the trouble you and the other managers are so kind as to take on behalf of depositors.3

I am glad to have a reason for writing to you and to be able to wish you and yours a happy Christmas and New year. Stephens has not mentioned you in any very recent letter wherefore I conclude you are all well.4 I hope William continues to like his occupation and finds it as golden as he could anticipate.5 Henry Lubbock seems to hang on to the paternal nest very firmly at present.6 John must be a great loss to Lady Lubbock but his own party increased too fast to remain with comfort.7 I am sorry to hear Ring’s wife is so ill.8 She has been a good wife and brought up her children far better than most— I had a very cheerful letter from Knight Bruce a few days ago. He is still without a house and has just returned to his Father’s at Roehampton from Versailles where he has been all the summer.9

We lead a very quiet life here. My wife10 is quite as well as she was in England and has several times gone out to dinner some 4 or 5 miles, which she could not, or would not do at Downe. Our change has been of the greatest advantage to Johnny’s health. He has grown quite stout and robust as well as tall, and has not had an hour’s illness, indeed I am thankful to say that we have had no need for a doctor in the house since we have been here. We want a cook very badly but it is not much use to ask you as I don’t think they grow abundantly in your soil. There is no special natural history that has come under my unscientific observation, except that I saw a white rabbit with black tips to his ears on a muir where only brown and occasionally a black one commonly dwell. What do you say to wheat being grown from oats in the second year? Do you trust it enough to try it for yourself?11

With all our best regards | Believe me | Dear Darwin | Yours faithfully | J Brodie Innes—


The year is established by the relationship to the letter to J. B. Innes, 22 December [1862].
The reference is to Innes’s fifteen-year-old son, John William Brodie, and to the Bromley Savings Bank (see n. 3, below). Innes, who was the perpetual curate of Down (that is, the Anglican incumbent of the parish), had removed with his family to Scotland at the beginning of the year (see letters from J. B. Innes, 2 January [1862] and 19 February [1862]).
CD was one of the trustees of the Bromley Savings Bank, High Street, Bromley (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. T. Austen, 30 May and 3 June 1863). An account of the bank, which was founded in 1816 ‘to protect the Savings of the poor’ (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. T. Austen, 30 May and 3 June 1863), is given in Horsburgh 1980, pp. 303–4.
Thomas Sellwood Stephens was Innes’s curate at Down (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862); he was evidently responsible for discharging Innes’s parochial duties following the latter’s removal to Scotland (see n. 2, above).
CD’s eldest son, William Erasmus Darwin, became a partner in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank, Southampton, in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9).
Henry James Lubbock, the second son of John William and Harriet Lubbock, continued to live with them at High Elms, near Down, until 1869, when he was 31 years old (see letter to J. B. Innes, 18 October 1869, Calendar no. 6942).
The Lubbocks’ eldest son, John, moved from High Elms to Chislehurst, a village about five miles north of Down, on 19 August 1861 (John Lubbock’s diary (British Library, Add. Ms. 62679: 64 r.); John Lubbock’s fourth child, Norman, was born in 1861 (Hutchinson 1914).
The reference is to Abraham Ring, a gardener resident in Down, and to his wife Charlotte (Census returns 1861 (Public Record Office, RG9/462: 72)).
Lewis Bruce Knight Bruce had formerly resided in Keston, a village two miles north of Down (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1851, 1855, 1859). His father, James Lewis Knight Bruce, lived at Roehampton Priory, Surrey (Post Office London directory 1862).
Eliza Mary Brodie Innes.
Innes probably refers to an extract that appeared in The Times, 10 December 1862, p. 7, quoting a letter from a Northamptonshire farmer, William Cowper, to the Berkshire Chronicle. Cowper stated as a ‘positive fact’ that he had grown both wheat and barley from oats, and cited several other such reports. See also letter to J. B. Innes, 22 December [1862] and n. 9.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

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

Horsburgh, E. L. S. 1980. Bromley, Kent: from the earliest times to the present century, compiled from materials collected from original sources by various hands. Reprint edition. Chislehurst, Kent: Lodgemark Press.

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

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.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


News of family and friends.

Saw a white rabbit with black-tipped ears on a moor where only brown ones commonly and black ones occasionally dwell.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 10
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3863,” accessed on 25 February 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10