skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Buxton   12 October [1864]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Oct 12

My dear Sir

I trust to your kindness to excuse me for troubling you with a question. I received a message from Sir H Holland that he was told that at your brewery “they cannot go on with their own yeast but are obliged to interchange with other breweries”.2 Is this a fact or a prejudice?3

The point interests me much; more especially as the yeast does not propagate sexually   I should be very much obliged if you could give me any reliable information on this head, & permit me to quote you as my authority.

I add a few questions as some sort of guide for information.

Pray believe me my dear Sir | yours sincerely | Charles Darwin

Any time when convenient for you to answer would perfectly suit me.— 1. How long will yeast, from being first introduced into your brewery, last good? 2. In what way does it fail? 3. Will yeast from any other brewery serve your purpose? 4. When your own yeast has ceased to be good, will it act if used in any other brewery? 5. And conversely will yeast which has become worn out in some other brewery, do for you? 6. In short does the yeast simply require a change of any kind, or, as it wd be said with a convalescent, a change of air?


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Charles Buxton, 21 October 1864.
CD refers to Henry Holland. The information and quotation were relayed to CD in the letter from E. A. Darwin, 30 June [1864]. Buxton was a partner in the brewery firm of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co., in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London, and was Holland’s son-in-law (Post Office London directory 1864, DNB). For a history of the brewery, see Richmond and Turton 1990, pp. 336–9.
See letter and enclosure from Charles Buxton, 21 October 1864.


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.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


Has heard that the yeast in CB’s brewery has failed. Asks for confirmation and answers to some questions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Buxton
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 92: A36–7
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4633,” accessed on 20 May 2024,

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