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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   28 [December 1862]


My dear Sir

You will see in next Nor. of Cottage Gardener, or in one subsequent, a question about the running powers of Penguin Ducks.—1 Could you aid me in getting this Query answered by some private individual; or by its insertion in the Field, which I do not take in.—2

This morning I had letter from a great squire & breeder who tells me of a Hereford Heifer put several times to one of his Bulls (a sure calf-getter) & never produced, but now she has been put to another Bull has conceived.3

I shall beg him to save calf & put her to the 1st. Bull; & see if special sterility has descended. but with these big animals, years must elapse—

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


See letter to Journal of Horticulture, [before 27 December 1862].
Tegetmeier was a regular contributor to the natural history columns of the Field (Richardson 1916, pp. 140–3); he communicated a query to the journal on the point raised by CD, which was published on 3 January 1862 in the section entitled ‘Notes and questions on natural history’ (Field 21 (1863): 29).
This letter has not been found. In Variation 2: 162, CD acknowledged communications on this phenomenon from three individuals who were landed gentry: namely Thomas Campbell Eyton, William Waring, and ‘Mr. Wicksted’ (probably Charles Wicksted). The letter was probably from Eyton, who was the head of a renowned Shropshire land-owning family, and a childhood friend of CD’s. Eyton was an authority on Hereford cattle (DNB), and author of two volumes of the Herd book of Hereford cattle (Eyton 1846–53).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Eyton, Thomas Campbell. 1846–53. The herd book of Hereford cattle. 2 vols. London. [Vols. 6,10]

Richardson, Edmund William. 1916. A veteran naturalist; being the life and work of W. B. Tegetmeier. London: Witherby & Co.

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


Can WBT help get an answer to a query on ducks?

Has heard of a case of special sterility in cattle, in which a particular pair are sterile, but the individuals are both fertile with others.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3869,” accessed on 8 May 2021,

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