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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Darwin Fox   6 February [1863]1

Delamere Rectory | Northwich | Cheshire

Feby 6

My dear Darwin

It is now long since I have heard any thing of you.2 Is there the least hope of your being in or near London from middle of next week this the following one?3 I should so very much like to see you again. I am going to take my 3rd Boy to a school near Maidenhead, and must be a few days in or about London.4 How our children grow up— My eldest has been now near two years at Oxford5

—My 2d is in 6th Form at Repton, and promises to be clever—6 My 3d, as I said going to Maidenhead— My 2 eldest girls each with a fine boy—and the other 10 running up like willows.7

Yours I suppose are doing rapidly—while we (as one of my little ones said to her Mother a few days since) go down as they go up.

Are you a Believer in Free Martins—8 I have always found them true in practise till now. A Lady near here, whom I know well, and her twin Brother also—has one from Baby & just had a miscarriage of another.

How are Caroline Susan & Catherine?9 What ages it is since I have seen them—The former never since her Marriage. I shd much like to see her & her two girls.10

Susan I mean to offer to pay a visit to ere long, if she will have me.

That I may not tire you out I will conclude with our kindest regards to Mrs Darwin—from your old friend & cousin | W D Fox

Mr Woodds | Hillfield | Hampstead | NW | after next Wednesday 11


The year is established by the reference to Samuel William Darwin Fox’s time at Oxford University (see n. 5, below).
CD arranged to meet Fox in London on 13 February 1863 (see letter to W. D. Fox, [10 February 1863], and letter from W. D. Fox [11 February 1863]).
Fox refers to his thirteen-year-old son, Robert Gerard Fox (Darwin pedigree).
Samuel Fox entered Wadham College, Oxford, in 1861 (Alum. Oxon.).
The reference is to Repton School in Derbyshire, which Charles Woodd Fox had attended since 1859 (Repton School register).
Fox refers to Eliza Ann Sanders and her son Charles Henry Martyn Sanders, and to Harriet Emma Overton and her son Frederick Arnold Overton. By 1863, Fox had fifteen children from two marriages (Darwin pedigree).
Freemartin or free martin: a ‘hermaphrodite or imperfect female’ (OED).
Fox refers to CD’s sisters, Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, Susan Elizabeth Darwin, and Emily Catherine Darwin.
Caroline Sarah Darwin married Josiah Wedgwood III in 1837. There were three surviving daughters of the marriage, Katherine Elizabeth Sophy, Margaret Susan, and Lucy Caroline Wedgwood (Darwin pedigree).
Charles Henry Lardner Woodd was a brother of Fox’s second wife, Ellen Sophia Fox (Burke’s landed gentry 1952).


Alum. Oxon.: Alumni Oxonienses: the members of the University of Oxford, 1500–1886: … with a record of their degrees. Being the matriculation register of the university. Alphabetically arranged, revised, and annotated by Joseph Foster. 8 vols. London and Oxford: Parker & Co. 1887–91.

Burke’s landed gentry: A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank but unvisited with heritable honours. Burke’s genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry. By John Burke et al. 1st–18th edition. London: Henry Colburn [and others]. 1833–1969.

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

Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Repton School register: Repton School register 1557–1910. Edited for the O. R. Society by the widow of G. S. Messiter. Repton, Derbyshire: A. J. Lawrence. 1910.


Hopes they might meet as WDF has to come to town.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 176
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3970,” accessed on 17 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11