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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Darwin to J. B. Innes   12 October [1874]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Oct 12—

My dear Mr Innes

It is some time since I have sent you any parish news; & as we hear a rumour of an important change, I will give you the first information of it; though I have not much hopes that it will prove true.

It is said that on the death of Mr Ffinden’s uncle Mr Sketchley, vicar of Deptford, which has just taken place, his son is to come here & Mr Ffinden to take the Deptford living.1

This would certainly be a great blessing to this place, as Mr Ffinden has no influence here & has excited general dislike.2 The chapel is so crowded that it has been enlarged. I do not mention this as an evil from my point of view, but only as a proof of Mr Ff’s unpopularity. You will not think me an impartial person perhaps as he cuts every member of our family when we meet; but as I said before the scheme of exchange sounds most improbable.

Frank & his wife are settled in your old house & like the place very much.3 They have bought up old carved chests & cabinets in Wales, (her native country) & have made the rooms look very well, & the garden is certainly beyond the average in prettiness & snugness. Frank helps his father & I hope will save him a good deal; but I am afraid it will always be against Mr Darwin’s nature to sit idle & rest himself. I am afraid Lady Lubbock’s health is failing in a way to cause great uneasiness, though we cannot hear of any specific disorder. Some people are afraid that the Railway accident some years ago has left some mischief which has been in abeyance hitherto.4

Pray give my kind love to Mrs Innes—5 I hope she & you will come & see us again, & with Charles’ very kind regards | yours very sincerely | Emma Darwin

P.S I obeyed your directions about Aquilegia, but it has not come up, neither your seed, nor some other of the same kind.6 The gardener however hopes still that it will appear in the spring.


George Sketchley Ffinden’s uncle Alexander Everingham Sketchley, vicar of St Nicholas, Deptford, died on 6 October 1874 (England & Wales, national probate calendar (index of wills and administrations), 1858–1966 (, accessed 10 July 2013)). Ffinden was vicar of Down from 1871 to 1911 (Freeman 1978).
In 1873, the Darwins and Lubbocks were involved in a dispute with Ffinden, who objected to the use of the Down schoolroom as a winter reading room (see Moore 1985, pp. 471 and 480, and Correspondence vol. 21, letters to the Down School Board, [after 29 November 1873] and 19 December 1873).
CD’s son Francis Darwin married Amy Ruck on 23 July 1874 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)), and rented Down Lodge, Down, Kent. Francis became CD’s secretary in summer 1874 (see Emma Darwin (1904), 2: 269).
See Correspondence vol. 13, letter from F. H. Hooker, 13 September [1865] and n. 6. John and Ellen Frances Lubbock were in a train derailment on 9 September 1865 on their way to Birmingham for the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Lubbock was uninjured but Ellen, who was heavily pregnant at the time, suffered deep cuts to her arm and hand. (Hutchinson 1914, 1: 77–9; The Times, 11 September 1865, p. 7.)
Eliza Mary Brodie Innes.
Innes had sent Aquilegia (columbine) seeds to Emma; she wrote, ‘as it happens I had fallen in love with Aquilegia Brodii & never possessed it’ (letter from Emma Darwin to J. B. Innes, 24 June [1874], Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher Collection)). ‘Aquilegia Brodii’ is not a species; the name was used jokingly by Emma to refer to the variety that John Brodie Innes had. There are numerous varieties of A. vulgaris (European columbine), and intercrossing is easy and occurs naturally.


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

Emma Darwin (1904): Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin. A century of family letters. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. Cambridge: privately printed by Cambridge University Press. 1904.

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

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

Moore, James Richard. 1985. Darwin of Down: the evolutionist as squarson-naturalist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).


Parish and family news.

Francis Darwin’s marriage; Francis serves as CD’s assistant.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
OC 12 74
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9674,” accessed on 27 November 2020,

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