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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Addison   6 July 1868

Maryport and Carlisle Railway | Secretary & General Manager’s Office | Maryport

July 6th 1868—


JULY 3, 1868.


FREAK OF NATURE.— In a thorn bush near Gilcrux,1 a nest was discovered with a brood of four young ones. The old ones flickering about were a cock goldfinch, and a hen green linnet. By means of a trap cage and bird lime the old birds were caught, and taken into the house. They are of undoubted plumage, and their young, now six weeks old, seem to partake of both, and they are carfully tended by the parent birds.2 They may be seen at George Hulmer’s, pitman, Tallentire Hill House.3

With the respects of Mr. Addison. Secy— M & C. Ry—4

To. Chas. R. Darwin Esq— | &c &c— &c—


Gilcrux is a village a few miles east of Maryport in Cumberland (now Cumbria).
CD discussed hybridism in wild birds (although he did not mention this case) in Descent 2: 113–15. The green linnet, or greenfinch, is Carduelis chloris; the goldfinch is Carduelis carduelis. Green linnet is recorded as a name of the bird in Lancashire, Norfolk, and Scotland (Greenoak 1997, p. 203).
Tallentire is a village a few miles east of Maryport. George Hulmer has not been further identified.
This letter consists of a newspaper clipping pasted onto printed stationery; the valediction and part of the date are written by hand.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Greenoak, Francesca. 1997. British birds: their folklore, names and literature. London: Christopher Helm.


Sends newspaper clipping about a nest of young birds, apparently hybrid offspring of a cock goldfinch and a hen green linnet.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Addison
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.7: 279 (Letters)
Physical description
AL 1p enc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6268,” accessed on 16 January 2021,

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