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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   11 August 1871

Abinger Hall, | Reigate. (Post Town) | Gomshall (Station) S.E.R.

11 August 1871

My dear Mr Darwin

I am so extremely vexed that you should be coming here just as I am going away for a month.—1 And before I go—which is Sunday next—I am busy every day in London. The only chance is that you may still be here when we come back about the 10th September

My sister in law will leave this: and I trust you, or at any rate Mrs Darwin and your daughters will come over and see my Penates—2

Alas for Botany! Office with a new chief—home cares and building—have left me little time for anything else.3

With very kind remembrances to Mrs Darwin | Believe me | Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

I was almost forgetting the chief object of my note vizt to congratulate you and your daughter very heartily on what Mrs Wedgwood tells me is a very satisfactory and happy prospect for her.4 May she find as much happiness in it as we have found. I can wish no better wish.


The Darwins were staying at Haredene in Albury, about three miles from Abinger Hall, returning home on 25 August 1871 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Farrer refers to Emma, Henrietta Emma, and Elizabeth Darwin; his sister-in-law has not been identified. Penates: household gods (Latin).
Farrer frequently corresponded with CD on botany. Chichester Samuel Parkinson-Fortescue had been appointed president of the Board of Trade, where Farrer was permanent secretary, in January 1871. Following the death of his wife, Frances, in May 1870, Farrer had assumed the care of their four children and was also rebuilding their home at Abinger Hall (ODNB; for the death of Frances Farrer, Farrer’s domestic responsibilities, and the rebuilding of Abinger Hall, see also Correspondence vol. 17, letter from T. H. Farrer, 8 August 1869 and n. 4, and Correspondence vol. 18, letters from T. H. Farrer, 17 May 1870 and 27 October 1870).
Farrer refers to his near neighbour Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, CD’s sister, who lived at Leith Hill Place, Dorking, Surrey (Freeman 1978), and to Henrietta Darwin’s engagement to Richard Buckley Litchfield (letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 July 1871 and n. 2).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Sorry he will be away when CD comes down.

Congratulations on Henrietta Darwin’s engagement.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 71
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7903,” accessed on 24 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19