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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   [after 21 March 1872]1

My dear L.

Mr. F.2 has called this morning on my wife, but I did not see him as I was unwell.— He wishes that I shd write to you but I have very little to say. It seem that I misunderstood his plan, & there is no intention to abolish pews, only to alter their arrangement. & to this my wife has no sort of objection. Mr Ffinden is afraid that the paper which I & others signed may be used against his getting the proper faculty; but I conceive that this is error: anyhow I signed the paper solely to let you know what we thought, & shd not wish my signature to go further.3 The most serious point is that the Ecc. Commiss4 will not give their £300, unless your pew on each side of the altar is removed; this decision as I hear from [Mr] L. is not at all owing to Mr Ffinden.

Mr Ffinden is afraid, unless some arrangement can be come to before the vestry next week, that he will not only fail to get the £300 from the Commiss, but that he shall eventually be compelled to return the money that has been subscribed to the subscribers; & this certainly seems a great pity, as to necessary repairs, will then be thrown on the Parish alone.—5


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [21 March 1872] (DAR 219.9: 97; see n. 3, below).
Evidently, CD had signed a petition in favour of the retention of church pews at St Mary’s, Downe. In her letter to Henrietta Emma Litchfield of [21 March 1872], Emma Darwin wrote, ‘Parslow says about 9 signed the paper & he thinks there is a very general wish to retain the pews, so F[ather] is satisfied at having signed—’ (DAR 219.9: 97). Joseph Parslow was the butler at Down House. Ffinden had the box pews replaced with bench pews (Village tour, (accessed 17 June 2011)).
The Ecclesiastical Commission determined the distribution of revenue for the Church of England (see Chadwick 1970, 1: 126–41).
For more on Ffinden’s proposed repairs and improvements, see the letter from J. B. Innes to Emma Darwin, 8 March 1872.


Chadwick, Owen. 1970. The Victorian church. 2d edition. 2 parts. London: A. and C. Black.


Discusses problems of obtaining money for the alteration of Down church.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 137–8
Physical description
ADraft 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8128,” accessed on 2 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20