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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. L. Denison   17 January [1874]1

Observatory, | East Sheen,

Jany. 17th.


If you have still “Varieties of Vice Regal Life” by you to refer to, you will see there (Vol. 1. page 361) that the number of Pitcairn Islanders brought to Norfolk Island was 194:—2 since I received your note, I have looked into my dear husband’s note book of his two visits to Norfolk Island, to see if I can find there any further information on the points you mention, but I am sorry to say that I can find none. He visited Norfolk Island twice, once in Septer 1857, about fifteen months after the Pitcairners’ first arrival there,— and again in 1859: but he does not mention their actual numbers on either occasion. None of them returned to Pitcairn’s Island till after his last visit;—3 and, as we left Australia early in the year ’61,4 I have had little opportunity since of hearing of them. I should think however, that you would have no difficulty in obtaining such later statistical information as you wish for, through the Colonial Office.5

I remain | Your obedt. servt. | C. L. Denison


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to C. L. Denison, 14 January 1874.
In his report of 10 July 1859, William Thomas Denison wrote that two families (sixteen people) had returned to Pitcairn Island and that three other families were considering moving (House of Commons Parliamentary Papers: Pitcairn islanders. Norfolk Island. Copy of correspondence with the government of New South Wales, in reference to Pitcairn Islanders settled in Norfolk Island; 1863 (297) XXXVIII.337, pp. 29–31).
W. T. Denison left New South Wales in January 1861 to take up his post as governor of the Madras presidency (ODNB).
See letter from William Dealtry, 16 January 1874, for the information sent to CD from the Colonial Office.


Denison, William. 1870. Varieties of vice-regal life. 2 vols. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

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.


Sends CD the number of Pitcairn islanders transferred to Norfolk Island cited in her deceased husband’s book [Sir William Thomas Denison, Varieties of a vice-regal life (1870)] but is unable to furnish additional information.

Letter details

Letter no.
Caroline Lucy Denison
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Observatory, East Sheen
Source of text
DAR 162: 158
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9246,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22