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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Dawkins   26 April 1874

11. Norman Road, Rusholme | Manchester


My dear Sir,

Will you allow me to use the enclosed testimonial in my candidature for the chair of Geology at Oxford so sadly vacant by the death of my old friend and master Prof. Phillips—1 My special claims at Oxford are

1st. I was the first to take geology into the schools

2d. I was the first geol. scholar2

3dly. I was first in science honours, & second in classics—

I am almost ashamed to mention these things—but the strong desire for the opportunity of carrying on original work even at a considerable sacrifice of money is to me irresistable.

I hope that you will not think me troublesome

I am | My dear Sir | Yours truly | W. Boyd Dawkins

Charles Darwin Esq F.R.S.

P.S. It is especially sad that Professor Phillips should have gone at this time. He was just bringing “the last book he ever intended to write” to a close, and was looking forward to spending the evening of his life in the quiet enjoyment of the beautiful collections of shells etc in the Oxford Museum.3 He told me this when I saw him last in Oxford—


The enclosure has not been found. CD had written a testimonial for Dawkins’s application for the Woodwardian Professorship of geology at the University of Cambridge in 1873 (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to W. B. Dawkins, 3 February 1873). John Phillips died on 24 April 1874; he had been professor of geology at Oxford since 1860 (ODNB). Joseph Prestwich was appointed as Phillips’ successor at Oxford.
Two scholarships were established in 1860 at Oxford, one in geology and one in natural science as bearing on geology. Dawkins was the first to receive the scholarship in geology in 1861. (Historical register of the University of Oxford.)
Phillips was keeper of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History from 1857 until his death (ODNB).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Historical register of the University of Oxford: The historical register of the University of Oxford: being a supplement to the Oxford University calendar with an alphabetical record of University honours and distinctions completed to the end of Trinity term, 1900. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1900.

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.


Asks CD’s support for his application for the Chair of Geology at Oxford.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Boyd Dawkins
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 128
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9429,” accessed on 26 February 2020,

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