skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Susan Darwin   [c. 24 October 1839]1

Arms.— S a Chevron between three Stork’s heads erased at the neck Argc 2 [DIAGRAM HERE] Another branch of the Warings settled in Ireland in the reign of Charles 1st. at Potlerath in the County of Kilkenny, and Jane, the Varina of Swift,3 whose cold & brutal letter to her reflects so much disgrace on the early story of that extraordinary character; was probably of that family, though her father William Waring, was of the county of Antrim.—

The Warings originally were a Staffordshire family— Nicholas, is written Esquire & styled of Wolverhampton in Henry the eights reign.—

Robert Waring was settled at Wilsford, in the County of Nottingham & was Grandfather to Anne, wife of William Darwin of Cleatham— who was your great great Grandfather.4

My father bids me say he is no herald or genealogist.

this is copied fr the book on the Sheriffs of Shropshire.—5


The conjectured date is based on CD’s interest in the family’s history at this time (see letter to W. D. Fox, 24 October [1839]). The coat of arms is similar to that of the Warings of Elston Hall, Nottinghamshire, which was adopted by CD’s sons William and George with the motto ‘Cave et aude’ (see Freeman 1978, p. 70).
The abbreviations ‘S’ and ‘Arg’ refer to the heraldic colour sable (black) and the heraldic metal argent (silver). The superscript ‘c’ following ‘Arg’ is a footnote superscript in Blakeway 1831, p. 131, from which Susan copied this information (see n. 5, below). Blakeway (1831, p. i) states that the ‘arms are engraved principally in outline, without the tinctures being expressed by the strokes of the graver’.
‘Varina’ was Swift’s transformation of ‘Waring’. Jane Waring is identified as the daughter of the Reverend Roger Waring, Archdeacon of Dromore (H. Williams, ed. 1963–5, 1: 19 nn.).
CD’s great great grandfather was William Darwin of Elston, the grandson of William Darwin of Cleatham (1573?–1644). He married Anne, only daughter of Robert Waring of Wilford (Darwin Pedigree).
The information in this letter was taken directly from Blakeway 1831, pp. 131–2.


Blakeway, John Brickdale. 1831. The sheriffs of Shropshire, with their armorial bearings; and notices, genealogical and biographical, of their families. Shrewsbury.

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

Williams, Harold, ed. 1963–5. The correspondence of Jonathan Swift. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Gives some information on Darwin family history.

Letter details

Letter no.
Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.11: 25 (on display at Down House in 1991)
Physical description
Amem 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 472,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2