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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   [c. 17 February 1870]1



My dear Father,

I am ordered as a secretary to the National Education League to make a stir for more subscriptions.2 We are now raising a special fund of £10,000 in order by public meetings in London and meetings & lectures in all Large town and by keeping up a constant fire on all M.P.s and by arranging for a permanent Committee to sit in London during the discussion in committee of the Education Bill, to improve the Govt. amendments to the Bill.3 It is hoped by making a great agitation to introduce some at least of the 4 points of the League—viz schools to be started at once—to be free, compulsory, unsectarian.

If you are inclined to subscribe again I could take & pay your subscription.4

Your affect son | W. E Darwin

Bicycle is come all right


The date is established by the date of the first reading of the Elementary Education Bill (see n. 3, below).
The National Education League was founded in 1869 to press for a national system of free, compulsory, and non-sectarian education in England and Wales; its first general meeting was held in Birmingham, 13 and 14 October 1869 (The Times, 13 October 1869, p. 10). CD’s name was mentioned as a subscriber in an article in The Times, 9 November 1869, p. 7; he had donated £20 (National Education League Monthly Paper, January 1870, p. 12).
The Elementary Education Bill was introduced on 17 February 1870 (Hansard parliamentary debates 3d ser., vol. 199 (1870), cols. 438–98). It was enacted on 9 August 1870 (33 & 34 Vict., c. 75).
No record has been found of any further contribution by CD.


Ask whether CD would like to subscribe again to National Education League. Describes the League’s goals.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 36)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7039F,” accessed on 25 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)