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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Robert Waterhouse   [after 22 May 1845]1

Down, Bromley, Kent


[thanks him for his description of the niata ox]2

I am delighted to hear that you are grappling with the Galapagos insects:3 the more I go into the Fauna, the more peculiar it is: out of 17 land shells 16 are new species confined to the group!4

[…] of you, but it will not cost you five minutes: it is to tell me by return of Post, whether any Entomologists, besides yourself, Walker,5 & A. White,6 have described any number of my insects:7 who described some flys?8

I want to know, because in my Preface I give an outline of the scientific publications of the Voyage.9

Ever my dear Waterhouse | yours truly | C. Darwin

[refers to a cargo of bones from ‘a little north of the St. of Magellan’,10 & says that if he does not hear from White about the spiders11 in eight days it will be too late.]


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. R. Waterhouse, 21[–22] May 1845 (Correspondence vol. 3).
Waterhouse’s unpublished description of a niata ox skull is mentioned in Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 146 n.
Waterhouse was preparing Waterhouse 1845, ‘Descriptions of coleopterous insects collected by Charles Darwin, Esq., in the Galapagos Islands’. See Correspondence vol. 3, letters from G. R. Waterhouse, 21[–22] May 1845, and [c. June 1845] (first letter) and n. 1.
See Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 390–1.
Francis Walker was a widely travelled entomologist (Entomologist 7 (1874): 260–4). For Walker’s descriptions of CD’s insects, see Walker 1838, 1839, and 1842–3.
Adam White was a naturalist employed in the zoological department of the British Museum (DNB). See A. White 1841.
Others who described CD’s insects were Frederick William Hope (Hope 1837), and Charles Cardale Babington (C. C. Babington 1838). For CD’s notes on his collection of insects during the Beagle voyage, see R. D. Keynes ed. 2000; see also DAR 29.
Walker sent specimens of Diptera to the Dublin entomologist Alexander Henry Haliday in 1837 and 1838, but Haliday did not publish on them (K. G. V. Smith 1987, pp. 30–4).
The preface to the second edition of Journal of researches included a paragraph detailing CD’s separate publications on the Beagle voyage, and adding: Mr. Bell, I hope, will describe the crustacea, and Mr. Sowerby the shells. Messrs. Waterhouse, Walker, Newman, and White, have published several able papers on the Insects which were collected, and I trust that many others will hereafter follow. CD referred to Thomas Bell, George Brettingham Sowerby and Edward Newman.
On 4 June 1845, CD reported to Hooker that he had just heard from Bartholomew James Sulivan that he had made ‘a grand collection of fossil quadrupeds from the R. Gallegos in the southern part of Patagonia’ (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1845], and letter from B. J. Sulivan, 13 January – 12 February 1845). The fossils are mentioned in a footnote to Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 172.
White had described ‘New or little known Arachnida’ collected by CD (A. White 1841). No letter from White has been found in CD’s correspondence of 1845. CD may be referring to information to be included in the second edition of Journal of researches, on which he was working between 25 April and 26 August 1845 (see Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II). A. White 1841 is cited in new material about spiders on p. 35 n. The second edition was originally issued in monthly parts as nos. XXII, XXIII, and XXIV of the Colonial and Home Library published by John Murray. Part XXII, in which the spiders are described, was advertised as published on 28 June 1845 (see Freeman 1977, p. 35).


Babington, Charles Cardale. 1838. Dytiscidæ darwinianæ; or, descriptions of the species of Dytiscidæ collected by Charles Darwin … in South America and Australia, during his voyage in H.M.S. Beagle. [Read 4 June 1838.] Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 3 (1841–3): 1–17.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Hope, Frederick William. 1837. Descriptions of some species of Carabidæ, collected by Charles Darwin, Esq., in his late voyage. [Read 1 May 1837.] Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 2: 128–31.

Smith, Kenneth G. V. 1987. Darwin’s insects: Charles Darwin’s entomological notes. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Historical series 14: 1–143.

White, Adam. 1841. Descriptions of new or little known Arachnida. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 7: 471–7.


Thanks him for describing the niata ox.

He is delighted that GRW is grappling with Galápagos insects. Needs to know immediately whether any entomologists beside GRW, Walker and A. White have described his insects.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Robert Waterhouse
Sent from
Source of text
Bloomsbury Auctions (dealers) (1990)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 864A,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)