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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thompson Forster   8 November 1870


Nov 8th 1870

Dear Sir

I send you the outline of a case I think may be interesting to you if it is, it can be proved or tested anytime as the people live close to this town—

The father when a baby had disease of the hip joints, with dislocation & shortening, & the discharge of a large quantity of pus— in due course he married, & had children all sound but the second one wh had shortening of the leg of the same side at the hip joints, the whole side of the pelvis seemed smaller & the tuber ischii lower, the femur shorter & smaller, but never any indication of disease

In the father you feel a thickening see a scar & find by touch & measurement dislocation upwards of the femur, with general thickening, the leg shortened 3 inches. The Son without any evidences of disease with leg shortened, shortening entirely in Femur & pelvis into only general diminution of size1   should you think this case of any use as, proving the transmission of deformity from disease to offspring, I shall be happy to give you any further information you may require.

believe me | Yours Truly | Thompson Forster.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Pan. Inherited Mutilations’2red crayon


CD discussed the inheritance of deformities, disease, and mutilations in Variation 2: 7–24, and 72–80.
CD discussed mutilations in regard to his hypothesis of pangenesis in Variation 2: 398.


Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Details of an apparently hereditary deformity in a man.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thompson Forster
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 160
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7360,” accessed on 10 April 2021,

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