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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Bernard Peirce Brent   18 June 1864

Dallington | nr. Robertsbridge | Sussex

June 18th. 1864—

Dear Sir,

I have this morning received a note from Miss E. Watts, who conducts the Poultry Yard department, of the “Field” Newspaper from which she contemplates retiring and she has asked me if I should like to accept it though the remuneration is but small about /25s a week1   I flatter myself I am competent to the office and the money would be acceptable. I write therefore to ask you if you would permit me to refer to you as to my fitness for the possition should Miss Watts retire as she thinks, and Mr. Crockford, desire a reference—2

I am not much of a person for putting myself forward, but the possition on the “Field” might be a little help and what I think I could perform.3

As respects my law affairs, the winding up Order in Chancery was made last month, and now only remains to settle up the accounts and pay the expenses which I fear will be very heavy—4

I do hope I shall be able to leave this ere another winter and take a house more sheltered with a little land somewhere in Kent.5

I sincerely hope this will find you in improved health also that your son has recovered his strength.6

I have now ten children which I find rather expensive   My eldest boy is rather poorly   I fear he outgrows his strength.

I have this year succeeded in rearing one young Dove between Cock Turtle and hen collared Turtle, and they are sitting again

Believe me | Dear Sir | to remain | yours obliged | B P Brent.

To | C Darwin Esqr.


Elizabeth Watts was poultry editor of the Field (CDEL). Published weekly from offices at 346 Strand, London, the Field was a ‘gentleman’s paper, devoted to sports, pastimes, natural history, and all country pursuits’ (Newspaper press directory 1865).
John Crockford was the manager of the Field (Modern English Biography). Brent was a leading pigeon-fancier and had supplied CD with information on breeding (see Correspondence vols. 6, 8–10). His work is cited in Origin, Variation, and Descent.
Brent had been a regular contributor to the Poultry Chronicle and the Cottage Gardener in the 1850s, and continued to write for the Field. No letter of reference by CD for Brent has been found. The position for which Brent applied was given to William Bernhard Tegetmeier (see letter from B. P. Brent, 2 September 1864 and nn. 1 and 2).
Brent had been involved since 1862 in a law suit (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from B. P. Brent, 15 July 1862 and n. 5). Files concerning B. P. Brent’s lawsuit in Chancery are available at the National Archives (TNA) (C 15/359/B255, cause no. 1857 B255 (Brent v Boyton) and C 15/360/B287, cause no. 1857 B287 (Brent v Briggs)).
Before taking up residence in Sussex, Brent had lived at Bessels Green in Kent (CD’s Address book (Down House MS)).
Brent probably refers to Horace Darwin, who had been seriously ill in the early part of 1863, and who remained in poor health (see Correspondence vol. 11, and this volume, letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864]).


CDEL: A critical dictionary of English literature, and British and American authors, living and deceased, from the earliest accounts to the middle of the nineteenth century … with forty indexes of subjects. By S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. London: Trübner. Philadelphia: Childs & Peterson; J. B. Lippincott. 1859–71. A supplement to Allibone’s critical dictionary of English literature and British and American authors. Containing over thirty-seven thousand articles (authors), and enumerating over ninety-three thousand titles. By John Foster Kirk. 2 vols. Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott. 1891.

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

Newspaper press directory: The newspaper press directory and advertiser’s guide. The newspaper press directory … A directory of the class papers and periodicals. London: C. Michell. 1856–1900.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has been informed Miss E. Watts retiring from poultry department of the Field and would like to take the post if made available. Asks CD if he would provide a reference for him if necessary.

Has bred and reared a young turtle-dove.

On progress of his lawsuit.

Letter details

Letter no.
Bernard Peirce Brent
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Dallington, Sussex
Source of text
DAR 160: 302
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4538,” accessed on 28 January 2022,

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