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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes   17 December [1863]1

Milton Brodie

17th Decr.

Dear Darwin,

I sent this to Malvern duly and you see the fate it has met with.2 I send it off again as I write so little it is a pity to lose what I do—

And as you are in some perplexity about your son3 let me tell you that the Revd. I Gresson who is a most charming fellow, and who I hear has a very nice sister is just starting a small establishment for young boys before they go to public schools at Worthing.4 You will know all about the sanitary condition of Worthing.5 If you want such a place it may be worth while to ask about this   I can answer for Gresson being a most agreeable man with boys, as well as grown folk   He has been second master at Bradfield for many years and Stevens can you more about him.6

Our best regards | Faithfully yours | J Brodie Innes.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. B. Innes, 1 September [1863].
CD underwent treatment at James Smith Ayerst’s hydropathic establishment in Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, between 3 September and 12 or 13 October 1863 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II)). Innes presumably refers to his letter to CD of 4 September [1863], which was apparently returned to Innes from Malvern after some delay and sent to CD with this letter.
See letter to J. B. Innes, 1 September [1863] and n. 3. The reference is to Horace Darwin, whose ill health had led to the interruption of his education with the Reverend George Varenne Reed in January 1863 (see letter from G. V. Reed, 12 January 1863). Horace resumed his studies with Reed in April 1864 (CD’s classed account books (Down House MS)). See also Correspondence vol. 12, letter from G. V. Reed, 15 August 1864.
Innes refers to John George Gresson, who was a master at St Andrew’s College, Bradfield, Berkshire (see n. 6, below). Gresson’s sister has not been further identified. Gresson opened West Mansion Preparatory School at Heene, Worthing, Sussex, in 1864 (Clergy list 1863–90, Crockford’s clerical directory 1889). This was one of many private educational establishments opened up in seaside resorts in Sussex during the second half of the nineteenth century (Walton 1983, p. 97).
Worthing, in common with many other seaside towns, was a popular place of resort for convalescents (see Walton 1983, p. 109, N. Wood 1912, p. 161). However, Innes may be alluding to CD’s possible knowledge of Edward Cresy’s report to the General Board of Health on the sanitary condition of Worthing (Cresy 1850); Cresy was a surveyor and civil engineer, and CD’s neighbour. CD had assisted Cresy in obtaining the appointment of superintending inspector to the General Board of Health in 1848 (see Correspondence vol. 4). CD had also received some information about Worthing from Joseph Dalton Hooker, who stayed there with his wife Frances Harriet Hooker in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 July [1861]).
St Andrew’s College, Bradfield, Berkshire, was a private school founded for the education of sons of clergymen and gentlemen (Blackie 1976, p. 1). Gresson had been a master at St Andrew’s College since 1855 (see Crockford’s clerical directory 1889, and Blackie 1976, p. 37). Thomas Stevens was the Warden of St Andrew’s College (Blackie 1976, p. 225).


Blackie, John. 1976. Bradfield 1850–1975. Bradfield, Berkshire: Warden and council of St Andrew’s College, Bradfield.

Clergy list: The clergy list … containing an alphabetical list of the clergy. London: C. Cox [and others]. 1841–89.

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

Cresy, Edward. 1850. Public Health Act, 11 & 12 Vict., cap. 63. Report to the General Board of Health on a preliminary inquiry into the sewerage, drainage, and supply of water, and the sanitary condition of the inhabitants of the town of Worthing. London: General Board of Health.

Crockford’s clerical directory: The clerical directory, a biographical and statistical book of reference for facts relating to the clergy and the church. Crockford’s clerical directory etc. London: John Crockford [and others]. 1858–1900.

Walton, John K. 1983. The English seaside resort: a social history 1750–1914. Leicester: Leicester University Press.

Wood, Neville. 1912. Health resorts of the British Islands. London: Hodder & Stoughton for University of London Press.


Suggests a new school for CD’s son [Horace].

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 13
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4357,” accessed on 19 February 2020,

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