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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Brodie Innes to Emma Darwin   16 January [1864]1

Milton Brodie

16th. Janry

Dear Mrs. Darwin,

Thanks for your information about the closing of the Bromley Savings bank.2 Mr. Darwin will be relieved of much labour which he has so kindly taken to assist the depositors.3

I send Johnny’s book and the order filled up.4 I suppose my signature as witness will do, as I am licensed by the Bishop to a mission at Milton Brodie, and a roving commission over the diocese of Moray.5

I wish you could give a better account of Mr Darwin than that he is much the same. You should bring him down to Forres for a hydropathic excursion as well as to see us.6 The building is nearly completed and certainly is very handsome and will be comfortable. The soil, water, land and sea views are all in its favour. Among other arrivals for it is an equatorial telescope by Dollond.7 Sir Alexanders home of the toads is close by and much other interest in the immediate neighbourhood.8 I hope you will come—

Johnny and I have had some capital skating and curling last week, this week we have had mild weather again—

With all our kindest regards to all your party | Believe me | Dear Mrs. Darwin | Yours faithfully | J Brodie Innes


The year is established by the reference to the closing of the Bromley Savings Bank, which took place on 31 December 1863 (see n. 2, below).
The passage in 1863 of the Post Office Savings Bank Act, which created a savings bank as part of almost every post office, caused the Bromley Savings Bank to close on 31 December 1863 (see Horsburgh 1980, p. 303, and Statutes, public and general, 26 & 27 Vict. c. 14).
CD had been one of the trustees of the Bromley Savings Bank (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. T. Austen, 3 June 1863). The bank had been under the control of a president, vice-president, up to twenty trustees, and a managing committee (Horsburgh 1980, p. 303). See also Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. B. Innes, 22 December [1862] and n. 5.
John William Brodie Innes, son of John Brodie Innes. Section 1 of the Post Office Savings Bank Act covered trust accounts and joint accounts of minors, specifying that minors should issue a certificate for the transfer of their accounts to a Post Office savings bank.
John Innes, the Anglican incumbent of Down, changed his name to John Brodie Innes at the end of 1861 upon inheriting an entailed estate, Milton Brodie, near Forres in Scotland; he moved to Milton Brodie shortly afterwards (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter from John Innes, [24 December 1861], and Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. B. Innes, 2 January [1862]). Innes then became priest in charge of Milton Brodie Mission and chaplain to the bishop of Moray; he continued to be the non-resident incumbent of Down until 1869 (Crockford’s clerical directory 1894, Freeman 1978).
Innes refers to the Cluny Hill hydropathic establishment near Forres, Morayshire. Building started in 1863, and the establishment formally opened in August 1865. See Metcalfe 1906, pp. 158–64, and Douglas 1934, pp. 347–8. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. B. Innes, 4 September [1863].
George Dollond ran a family optical business first established in 1750 by Peter Dollond; Dollond telescopes had long been thought to be of the highest quality (see King 1955 and Clifton 1995).
Alexander Penrose Gordon Cumming of Altyre was a friend and neighbour of Innes’s and had written letters in April and May 1863 to the Elgin Courier and the Forres Gazette about live toads being found in large numbers deep in the strata exposed by the cuttings of the Inverness and Perth Railway, which was being constructed near Altyre (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. B. Innes, 29 August [1863]). The story was reprinted in the Scotsman and The Times (see The Times, 16 April 1863, p. 7, and 25 May 1863, p. 9). The myth that toads or frogs contemporaneous with coal or rock formations had been exhumed alive in modern times was prevalent in popular natural history books and periodicals of this period (see Barber 1980, p. 18).


Barber, Lynn. 1980. The heyday of natural history, 1820–1870. London: Jonathan Cape.

Clifton, Gloria. 1995. Directory of British scientific instrument makers 1550–1851. London: Zwemmer, in association with the National Maritime Museum.

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

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.

Douglas, Robert. 1934. Annals of the Royal Burgh of Forres. Elgin: the author.

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.

King, Henry C. 1955. The history of the telescope. New York: Dover Publications.

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


Urges Emma to bring CD to hydropathic establishment at Forres.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4387,” accessed on 23 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12