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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Henslow   [after 22 February 1869]1

S. Johns Parsonage | S. Johns wood | N.W.

Dear Mr Darwin,

I send you a “case” which I think might have some little interest for you.—2 as follows:

A Ewe of the Kentish breed, belonging to Mr Beard of Norton nr Canterbury,3 gave birth to twins, one of which was a pure Kentish breed, like its mother and father; the other a pure Southdown 4 & continued as such through life. I put the follg. questions to him, & the replies are Mr Beard’s answers.5

1. In what particulars did the twin lamb resemble the Southdown breed?

1. as to Head? Face dark.

2. as to body? wool short.

3. as to limbs? dark.

The Resemblance in all points was like a down.

Had the parent ewe ever been covered by a Southdown ram? not known.

Had any of the ancestry of the ewe ever been crossed by a Southdown ram?

not known.

Had the ewe any opportunity of seeing a flock, or even one constantly, while pregnant, or before that time?

Do not think it had.

Do you think Pangenesis would be the probable explanation of the phenomenon? by some early crossing not known, if so, it seems curious that it should reappear when twins were born & in only one of them!

Yrs very truly | G Henslow


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from George Henslow, 22 February 1869.
Mr Beard has not been further identified.
Henslow probably refers to the Romney, an ancient longwool breed, named after Romney Marsh in south Kent, where it originated. For Southdown sheep, see the letter from J. V. Carus, 2 February 1869 and n. 5.
The underlined answers, from ‘Face dark.’ to ‘Do not think it had.’ are not in Henslow’s hand.


Sends information from a Kent sheep-breeder.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Henslow
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St John’s Wood
Source of text
DAR 166: 167
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6522,” accessed on 15 December 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17