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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Robert Cecil   7 June 1870

Hatfield House, | Hatfield, | Herts.

June. 7. 1870.


It is my pleasing duty to inform you that the University of Oxford proposes to express its deep admiration for your great achievements in the field of Natural Science, by conferring upon you an Honorary Degree at the approaching Commemoration.

I trust that it will not be disagreeable to you to accept this token of their esteem: & that you will be able to be present in the theatre for that purpose.1

The degree will be conferred on the morning of Tuesday June the 21st. The ceremony will be over before one.

I am | Your obedient Servant | Salisbury.2


Cecil refers to the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford; it was built to provide a secular venue for meetings and ceremonies of the University of Oxford. CD declined on the grounds of ill health; see LL 3: 126 n. Henry Parry Liddon later proposed that the degree be awarded in absentia, but the vote to do so was tied and not passed. See Browne 2002, pp. 337–9.
Cecil was the marquess of Salisbury, and chancellor of Oxford University.


Browne, Janet. 2002. Charles Darwin. The power of place. Volume II of a biography. London: Pimlico.

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.


Informs CD that Oxford proposes to confer an honorary degree upon him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Salisbury, 3d Marquis of
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Hatfield House
Source of text
DAR 177: 8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7222,” accessed on 8 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18