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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   [1 December 1866]1



My Dear Father,

As I passed thro’ London I called at Uncle Langton’s but could not find him at home, & so left the statement and asked him to read it & let me hear what he thought. I enclose his letter; in which you see, he rather thinks the resignation of rights he gave the trustees is made void by the conditions not having been fulfilled (namely of no 10 being entirely furnished from the trust money, which it was not, as you will see by his letter):2

I think if it turns out to be void it will be better for the estate and will fulfil Aunt Catherine’s wishes for if it is not void we shall be bound to pay Uncle L. nearly £1000 for the furniture, pay legacy duty on the value, & then have again to sell the furniture no doubt at a loss, or get rid of house & furniture at once which would also entail sacrifice.

& therefore even tho’ Uncle L. appears almost to wish that the agreement should take effect, & that we should pay him what was advanced by him, & take the furniture, I as executor can only do what is legally clear, especially as it seems more for the advantage of the legatees. Therefore I am thinking of writing to Salt,3 & enclosing him the copy I have of the agreement; and if he, after hearing the state of the case considers decidedly that the agreement is void, of course that ends the matter, & I cannot take upon myself to alter in any way to suit Uncle Langton’s wishes.

But if it still holds good, of course we can leave it to Uncle Langton whether he should take the furniture or receive the amount of it, as it would be better for us that he should take the furniture.

Please tell me what you think of this, & return me the enclosed letter | Your affect son | W. E. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, 10 November [1866] (this volume, Supplement). According to that letter, he planned to go to via London to Claythorpe in Lincolnshire on 27 or 28 November 1866; the Saturday after that was 1 December.
In her will, dated 9 January 1866, date of probate, 4 June 1866, Emily Catherine Langton, CD’s sister, left her dividends to her husband, Charles Langton, and all her other possessions, including a house recently purchased for her by her trustees at 10 Cambridge Terrace, Regent’s Park, London, to William and George Howard Darwin on the understanding that they would sell them or convert them into money in order to pay for her funeral and a series of bequests to family, friends, and servants. The enclosed letter has not been found.
Thomas Salt was the Darwins’ solicitor in Shrewsbury.


William asks what to do about a complication in settling Aunt Catherine’s estate.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 25)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5021F,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

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