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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   [14 July 1865]1



My Dear Father;

The bridge over the Itchen belongs to a small company and they keep their account here, Mr Atherley being their treasurer.2

It pays very well about 7 per Cents on the average. They want to make me a member of the committee as they cannot make Mr Atherley as being treasurer. The members of committee get their guinea or so for meeting.3

But they require one to hold a share.

I wanted to know whether you would mind lending me a hundred pounds; as I don’t like reducing my own account too much for the look of the thing;4

Of course I could sell out something, & if one was not one’s own banker of course one could borrow the money, or keep one’s account low. If you could let me have it, I should repay some at Christmas. I dont suppose I shall want it for some time.

I hope you still keep improving & have no sickness   it is a horrid bore I cannot have the boys; but they might come when I come back, which will be about the 25th.5

I shall have a hard day tomorrow, I leave here at 5 in afternoon and am in Dublin at 7.30 in the morning.

I shall stay Monday & have a look at Exhibition, & go on to Armagh on the Tuesday for the Wedding   My direction will be up to the 21st G. Skipworth’s Armagh Ireland.6

I am reading Tylor’s Antient history & like it very much.7

I take my ice with me in a box, as it would be impossible to get any at 3 in the morning at Holyhead.8

You ought to get the new London Library Catalogue.9

My love to mama | Your affect son | W. E. Darwin.


The date is established by a reference to William’s attending a wedding in Armagh on 20 July (see n. 6, below). The Friday before 20 July 1865 was 14 July.
The Northam bridge was the only fixed bridge over the river Itchen, and connected Southampton and Bitterne; it was owned by the Northam Bridge Company (B. C. Jones 1960). George Atherley was William’s partner in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank.
William’s reference to getting a guinea is probably an allusion to the traditional payment received by individuals upon joining a militia (Militia Act of 1757).
CD recorded a payment of £100 to William on 4 October 1865 under the heading ‘W. E. Darwin shr bridge’ in his Account books–banking account (Down House MS).
Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242) that CD suffered several bouts of vomiting and flatulence throughout May and June 1865, but was somewhat better in July; he had been following John Chapman’s ice treatment since 20 May (see Correspondence vol. 13).
The Dublin International Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures was held from 9 May until 9 November 1865 (Dublin exhibition catalogue; The Times, 11 November 1865, p. 10). William’s friend Septimus Patrick Skipworth was married at the cathedral in Armagh on 20 July 1865; his brother, Patricius Grey Skipworth, officiated at the wedding (Belfast News-Letter, 24 July 1865, p. 2).
Edward Burnett Tylor’s Researches into the early history of mankind and the development of civilization (Tylor 1865) was published in February 1865 (Publishers’ Circular, 15 February 1865, p. 89).
Holyhead, a town in Anglesey, Wales, is the port from which William would have left on his journey to Ireland. William was evidently trying Chapman’s ice treatment (see n. 5, above).
The London Library, founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle, was a private lending library; CD was a member. In 1865, a third edition of the catalogue was published, listing 80,000 volumes (, accessed 19 March 2015).


Wants to borrow money to buy stock in the bridge over the Itchen.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 21)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4873F,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)