skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Robert Monsey Rolfe   [20 November 1863]1

Holwood | Bromley

〈    〉

〈My d〉ear Sir

My contribution to your Downe Charities is paid about this time of the year—& as we may perhaps be going to pay some visits next week, I may as well send you a cheque while the matter is in my mind—2

I hope that you & your family are all pretty well— Mrs Norris3 a〈n〉 〈one or two words〉 Cranworth who is wi〈th us〉 gives us an unsatisfactory acct of Sir H Holland—4 He was ill last week & after getting much better seems to have imprudently exposed himself which has brought on a sharp attack of Gout or something of the sort—

Yours very truly | Cranworth5

Chas Darwin Esqre


The date is established by entries in CD’s Account books–cash and bank accounts, and by the Down Coal and Clothing Club account book (Down House MS); 1863 is the only year in which Rolfe’s name (Lord Cranworth) appears both in CD’s Account books and as a subscriber to the Down Coal and Clothing Club. Also, all years but 1863 are already accounted for by an annual letter enclosing his donation (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter from R. M. Rolfe, 28 November 1862, and n. 2, below).
As treasurer of the Down Friendly Club and the Down Coal and Clothing Club, CD distributed donations, and allotted funds to a day school and a Sunday school in Down (Freeman 1978; see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Lubbock, 14 December [1859]). In 1863, CD recorded Rolfe’s annual donation in his Account book–banking account on 20 November for £10 10s. He recorded the following for 21 November in his Account book–cash accounts: ‘L. Cranworth Charities. School 7.7. Friendly Club 1.1. Coal Club. 2.2.0’.
Mrs Norris has not been identified.
The London physician Henry Holland was a distant relative and a correspondent of CD’s (Freeman 1978).
Rolfe was created Baron Cranworth in 1850; his country residence was a mile and a half north of Down House (DNB).


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

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.

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


Sends annual cheque for Down parish charities.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Monsey Rolfe, 1st Baron Cranworth of Cranworth
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Holwood, Bromley
Source of text
DAR 161.2: 230
Physical description
2pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4316,” accessed on 28 November 2020,

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