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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Harward   15 May 1868

Chas. Darwin Esq. | Down | Bromley | Kent | S.E.

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for your kind letter dated the 9th instt.—1 In addition to being a large Sheep & Cattle breeder I am actively engaged in heavy professional duties as a Solicitor & am consequently unable to devote much time to continuous thought— I am however in the habit of noting facts & circumstances as they arise; & as I avail myself of the pen of a clerk who takes down my letters in Shorthand it will be no trouble to me to send you any information of note, as I may from time to time obtain it. Please however do not trouble to acknowledge it, as I well know the labour of correspondence to gentlemen who are in the habit of devoting their mental faculties to hard 〈    〉

〈    〉 last two Volumes have 〈inter〉ested me very much.2 〈Yo〉u are probably aware that a Swiss Gentleman some time ago started a theory as to the production, at Will, of male or female Calves

His point was, if I remember right, this; Cows served immediately on coming in Season produced females, whilst those served later produced males.3

I have endeavoured to test this theory closely for the last 2 or 3 years & my experience leads me to think that there is nothing whatever in the theory.

I have, as before stated, had a singular preponderance of Bull Calves notwithstanding that the greatest possible care has been taken to have the Cow served immediately on her becoming in Season.

My friend Mr. E. Bowly4 of Siddington near Cirencester is now I believe the oldest Shorthorn breeder living & his experience has been like mine.

He told me a short time since that a person once professed to have discovered the Secret of breeding cow Calves, but refused to disclose it save on the condition of having £10,000 deposited under an arrangement which provided that it should be paid to him in case of the experiment being decided & approved by competent judges.

The theory was however doubted from the beginning & the proposed arrangement consequently not carried out.

I am dear Sir | Your’s faithfully | Jno Harward

Winterfold. Kidderminster 15 May 1868.


CD’s letter to Harward of 9 May 1868 has not been found.
Harward refers to Variation.
Marc Thury put forward his theory of how to produce male or female calves at will in Thury 1863.
Edward Bowly.


Thury, Marc Antoine. 1863. Mémoire sur la loi de production des sexes chez les plantes les animaux et l’homme. 2d edition. Geneva and Paris: Joël Cherbuliez.


On false claims that female cattle can be produced at will.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Harward
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 119
Physical description
3pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6175,” accessed on 3 August 2020,

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