skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes   13 June 1868

Milton Brodie | Forres

13th. June 1868

Dear Darwin,

You can imagine, better than I can explain, how much I am grieved at the difficulties Horsman has got himself and others into.1 It is not often the case that I take a strong dislike to a man at first sight, as I did to him, and it was with no small reluctance that I gave way to the universal judgment in his favour last August, and allowed him to stay.2 At that time he had not been licensed, and I could have got rid of him at once; but it was necessary he should be licensed if he remained, and he was so. After that I have no power over him, but by the process of reporting any failure of duty to the Archbishop,3 and requesting him to withdraw the licence.

The last I heard from him was from 1 Elm Court Temple, to say he was on his way to Downe; would write himself to the Archbishop and resign; (I had told him I should report him to his Grace) and requesting me to pay a quarter’s stipend due 1st June to his bankers 75 Cornhill.4

I understand he has not gone to Downe, and I have not paid. I understand he has not paid the Sunday School teachers since Novr. last. If he has received subscriptions for the Sunday School I should of course deduct the amount due; also balance, if any, due on acct of the boys school;5 and, if I legally could the sum due to Mr Humphries 32 Sackville St. for providing for services during his absence at Torquay.6 The School money I should be confident about as cash received; I am not sure if Mr. Humphries’ is more than a private debt.

Can some of your family: Miss Darwin, whom I consider my Minister of Education, (non political) or Mrs Darwin ascertain the state of matters financial in Schools.7

Then as to the future; for present emergency I have written to the Churchwardens and to Mr Humphries, who appears to have sent clergy men generally satisfactory, to send some one to fill the gap. I tried to get Mr Jones,8 who is a most able man, to take Sunday and weekly duty also for a time, but he is otherwise engaged; still I hope there may be no immediate difficulty, and permanent arrangements must be made as soon as possible. Hastened by this embarrassment, I am offering to part with all my interest in the living. It would probably have been better if I had done so long ago, but I have always had a hope that I might obtain a house for the parish, and perhaps, as I have so many kind friends about, return and end my days there.9

But the hope has vanished, and I am too old to begin to build a house in a field and plant trees I can never see grow. I hope the Parish will be better with a younger man—

I mentioned to you and to Sir John my probable intention of disposing of my patronage; and I have instructed my agent to offer it to Sir John & you before any one else, in case you should have any friend you may wish to put in.10

With kind regards to your party Believe me | Faithfully Yours | J Brodie Innes

I fear the fierce blackbird of 1866 has fallen a victim to her courage as I have not seen her since. By this time she should have had grandchildren who would have made considerable progress towards being eagles. Bill and claws at any rate should have been developed11

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘Organ | Sir John Lubbock | (Interest) | Bryson | [3 or 4 words illeg]12 pencil


Innes, who was vicar of Down, refers to Samuel James O’Hara Horsman, his curate, who had been absent from his post for some time and was planning to resign it after allegations of financial irregularity (see letter from S. J. O’H. Horsman, 2 June [1868]).
In his letter of 1 September [1867] (Correspondence vol. 15), Innes had written, ‘I hope Horsman will stay quietly, at least for the year he has promised: and that you will continue to like him—’.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Thomas Longley.
See also letter from S. J. O’H. Horsman, 2 June [1868]. Seventy-five Cornhill, London, was the address of the Metropolitan Bank.
That is, the National School for boys (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1866).
Thirty-two Sackville Street, London, was the address of the clerical agent William Humphries. Humphries has not been further identified. The Gentleman’s Magazine, July 1824, p. 10, noted the creation of the new employment of clerical agent as an intermediary in the sale of benefices.
Innes refers to Henrietta Emma Darwin and Emma Darwin.
Mr Jones has not been identified.
Innes continued as vicar of Down until 1869 (Clergy list). On Innes’s career, and his difficulties in finding a suitable house in Down for himself or his replacement, see Moore 1985, pp. 468–9.
Innes refers to John Lubbock. Innes had bought the advowson of Down (that is, the right to appoint the clergyman) in about 1860 (Moore 1985, p. 469).
No letter has been found from Innes referring to a blackbird.
CD’s annotations are notes for his letter to Innes of 15 June [1868].


Clergy list: The clergy list … containing an alphabetical list of the clergy. London: C. Cox [and others]. 1841–89.

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

Moore, James Richard. 1985. Darwin of Down: the evolutionist as squarson-naturalist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Writes about difficulties in which S. J. O. Horsman, curate at Down, has involved himself and others. Horsman has said he would resign. JBI offers to give up his interests in the living at Down.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 16
Physical description
ALS 8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6241,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

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