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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   16 December 1868

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Dec 16 1868

My dear Innes

I have recd yr 2 letters. I quite agree to all you say as most just. Miss Wedgwood is at Tenby & your request about land shall be forwarded today.1

With respect to Mr Robinson I feel in an awkward predicament for it seems to me rather dishonorable to take any further steps without plainly telling him what I have done & am doing.2 On the other hand I do not feel sure, owing to my ignorance of law, whether I may not be exposing myself to an action for defamation of character

I will however call on Mr Allen today & report to you what he says. My impression is that your circular ought to be given to the Church wardens direct from you.3

But my chief object in writing now is to suggest that you should come here at once & see how affairs really stand (if it is in your power); & in that case we shd be heartily glad to see you here for as long a time as it wd suit you to stay.

I thank you cordially for your very kind expressions towards me—

Believe me yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

P.S I am just returned from Mr Allen’s to whom I shewed yr circular. Mr Allen knows nothing from his own observations, but rumours certainly are rife against Mr R. The name of the girl is Esther West. Mr Allens cook4 saw Mr R. talking to her in the road near the house. He had heard from Mrs Allen that the mother of the girl (who has left Mrs Allen) had written to Mr R. forbidding him to call at her cottage; also that Mr R. had been seen to go into some house in the village where some girl supposed to have a bad character lives. Mr Allen said that he believed this 2nd story came from Mrs Engleheart, & about the girls mother thro’ Mrs Buckle the wife of the bailiff.5 I have told you all this—but it goes for nothing—for Mr A. sent for Mrs Allen, who judging by her manner, knew a good deal, but said she was nervous & wd not commit herself— accordingly she said she cd not remember who had told her any one single thing; or the name of the girl in the village; & further that her cook did not want to commit herself & declined to say whether it was in the day light or after dark that Mr R. talked with the girl.— It is pretty clear that the only evidence worth any thing cd be obtained from the girl’s mother & perhaps she wd refuse to commit herself—

Under these circumstances I think it best to return you the circular & then you can decide whether to send it direct to the Church wardens for public inspection.—

I am most sincerely sorry for all this vexation & trouble.—


See letters from J. B. Innes, 12 December 1868 and 14 December 1868 and n. 1. Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood’s aunts, Emma and Frances Allen, lived near Tenby at Cresselly, South Wales (Darwin pedigree, Freeman 1978).
There had been complaints about the conduct of John Warburton Robinson, the curate of Down (see letter to J. B. Innes, 10 December [1868] and n. 4).


Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Has received JBI’s two letters; agrees with him, but does not know what to do about [the alleged misconduct of] John Robinson. Reports in a long postscript on vain efforts to confirm rumours. Suggests JBI come to Down to see how affairs stand.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description
LS(A) 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6505,” accessed on 24 March 2023,

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