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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   8 [June? 1868]1



My dear F.

On Jan. 29th 1868 I paid you a cheque for £14"10"0 (£10 out of your Legacy & 4"10.0 for Fees)— This cheque has never been presented to my Bankers; & I never knew a cheque so much delayed.—2

What did you do with it? Did you send to Union Bank, or pay it to some Tradesman? if in Cambridge, enquire about it, & let me hear soon.—3 If you had lost it, you wd of course have told me.—

I hope the poor dear old “Pelican on the House-top” is jolly,— I shd think so from his last jolly note.—4

Your affect. Father | C. Darwin


The month is conjectured and the year established from entries in CD’s Account books–banking account (Down House MS). See n. 2, below.
In CD’s Account books–banking account a payment of £14 10s. to Francis Darwin is noted on 29 January 1868; alongside entries at the end of June 1868 is a note reading, ‘14.10 Frank old cheque not ticked off’. CD evidently placed a tick on his record of each cheque payment when the cheque was presented to his bankers. The 29 January payment does have a tick beside it, so presumably the cheque was eventually accounted for; however, no reply to this letter has been found.
CD had banked with the Union Bank of London since 1853 (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to John Higgins, 11 April [1853]). Francis was an undergraduate at Cambridge University.
Presumably a loose reference to Ps. 101: 6–7: ‘I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top’, and to George Howard Darwin. George was a fellow at Cambridge University. No letter from George to his family from this time has been found.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


A cheque written out for FD has never been presented to CD’s bankers.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 211: 3
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5769,” accessed on 9 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16