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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Thomas Austen   27 May 1863


May 27—/63

My dear Sir,

I found your note on my return from Bromley on Monday.1 I was late & could not in consequence write to you that Evening— yesterday I left early for this place having a long journey before me— I have written by this post to Dennen and asked for an explanation relative to the transaction you have referred to.2 I do not understand it at all, it certainly looks as if he were engaged in some business which at any rate he ought not to meddle with. he ought not to have anything whatever to do with borrowing money at ten per Cent— The Bondsmen, he speaks of, are I suppose securities for the money advanced;3 as to his own bond, it is worth nothing at all— I will desire him to write to me immediately and I will then let you know what he has said for himself; you must not however expect to hear from me before Sunday Morning, as we have no second Post from this place either out or in, and I believe you have no second d〈eli〉very at Down4   I shall not get Dennen’s answer before Friday morning— I am staying now at

Slape House | Netherbury | Beaminster | Dorset.

I saw your servant at Bromley on Monday; 〈&〉 am sorry to hear that you are not well;5 if I had not been leaving home yesterday I would have rode over to Down & called on you, that we might have had some conversation on this matter. The affairs of the Bank are all right; no money goes through Dennen’s hands.

I remain | Yrs very truly | John Thos. Austen.

C. Darwin Esq.

PS. I do not re〈turn〉 home before the end of the week after next, we remain here till 〈Wedn〉esday next—


The letter to Austen has not been found.
CD had evidently written to inform Austen that George Dennen had been making unauthorised loans from the deposits of the Savings Bank, High Street, Bromley (see letter from J. T. Austen, 30 May 1863). Like CD, Austen, who was rector of West Wickham, Kent, was a trustee of the savings bank; Dennen was its secretary (see Horsburgh 1980, p. 303, and letter from J. T. Austen, 3 June 1863).
Bondsman: one who becomes surety by bond (OED).
Down received only one postal delivery daily, at 8:30 A.M. (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862).
Austen may refer to Joseph Parslow, the Darwins’ butler (Freeman 1978).


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

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.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

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.


Has written to G. Dennen to ask him for an explanation regarding his behaviour in a financial transaction involving the savings bank of which JTA and CD are trustees.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Thomas Austen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 159: 149
Physical description
4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4188,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11