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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   4 [September 1863]

Villa nuova | Malvern Wells

Friday 4th.

My dear Fox

I have had a bad amount of sickness of late & came here yesterday; & as I could get no country in Grt. Malvern we are here & I have put myself under Dr. Ayrehurst, though very sorry not to be under Dr. Gully.1 Emma came here a day or two first & took this house.2

And now I come to the painful subject which makes me write at once. Emma went yesterday to the church-yard & found the gravestone of our poor child Anne gone.3 The Sexton declared he remembered it, & searched well for it & came to the conclusion that it has disappeared.4 He says the churchyard a few years ago, was much altered & we suppose that the stone was then stolen.

Now some years ago, you with your usual kindness visited the grave & sent us an account.5 Can you tell what year this was? I was so ill at the time & Emma hourly expecting her confinement that I went home & did not see the grave.6 It is not likely, but will you tell us what you can remember about the kind of stone & where it stood; I think you said there was a little tree planted. We want, of course, to put another stone. I know your great & true kindness will forgive this trouble.

Your affect | C. Darwin


According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD arrived in Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, on 3 September 1863. CD had originally intended to be treated by James Manby Gully, who practised at nearby Great Malvern; however, Fox informed him that Gully was seriously ill and unable to practise (see letter from W. D. Fox, [16–22 May 1863], and letter to W. D. Fox, 23 May [1863]). James Smith Ayerst’s hydropathic establishment at Malvern Wells was reportedly opened ‘in conjunction at first with Dr. Gully’, although it was publicised in Ayerst’s name alone (Medical directory 1858–68; Post Office directory of Birmingham 1860 and 1864; Metcalfe 1906, p. 94). Gully discontinued his own hydropathic establishment at Great Malvern in the late 1850s, although he continued to practise from his residence (Post Office directory of Birmingham 1854 and 1860; B. S. Smith 1978, p. 211). He visited CD at some time during his stay at Ayerst’s establishment (see letters from Emma Darwin to W. D. Fox, [29 September 1863] and 8 December [1863]).
According to her diary (DAR 242), Emma Darwin travelled to Great Malvern on 1 September 1863.
Anne Elizabeth, the Darwins’ eldest daughter, died at Great Malvern on 23 April 1851 (see Correspondence vol. 5).
This individual has not been identified.
CD had left Great Malvern on 24 April 1851, before Anne’s burial, which was arranged by Frances Emma Elizabeth Wedgwood (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to F. M. Wedgwood, 25 April [1851]); there is a sketch showing the location of Anne’s grave in the Priory churchyard at Great Malvern in DAR 210.13: 39. Emma Darwin was at the time pregnant with Horace, who was born on 13 May 1851.


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

Medical directory: The London medical directory … every physician, surgeon, and general practitioner resident in London. London: C. Mitchell. 1845. The London and provincial medical directory. London: John Churchill. 1848–60. The London & provincial medical directory, inclusive of the medical directory for Scotland, and the medical directory for Ireland, and general medical register. London: John Churchill. 1861–9. The medical directory … including the London and provincial medical directory, the medical directory for Scotland, the medical directory for Ireland. London: J. & A. Churchill. 1870–1905.

Metcalfe, Richard. 1906. The rise and progress of hydropathy in England and Scotland. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co.

Post Office directory of Birmingham: Post Office directory of Birmingham, Warwickshire, and part of Staffordshire. Kelly’s directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. London: W. Kelly; Kelly & Co. 1845–1928.

Smith, Brian S. 1978. A history of Malvern. N.p.: Alan Sutton & The Malvern Bookshop.


His bad health has caused him to return to Malvern.

Emma cannot find the gravestone of their child, Anne. Asks WDF whether he can remember its location.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Malvern Wells
SP 4 63
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 140)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4292,” accessed on 17 October 2021,

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