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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Jonathan Peel   17 March 1868

Knowlmere Manor, | Clitheroe.

17. March 1868.

Dear Sir

I wish I could have answered your query as to the relative numbers of males & females born each year more satisfactorily.1

My own “Sheep Book” fails to supply the information & my Shepherd who endeavours to keep a sort of register, often fails in perfect accuracy, owing to the press of work during most lambing seasons the births often coming with a sort of rush, leaving him little leisure or opportunity for book-work. He however states that for 4 seasons he is quite certain he is correct. & the general result is that the males were in number only 2 below the females.

This register is attempted for the pure bred lambs alone—those which are to form the progenitors for after years.2 A considerable number of the inferior ewes are put generally to a Leicester Ram & their produce male & female sold fat to the Butcher, of these no record beyond that of births & sales is kept, but my Bailiff believes the males & females are generally nearly equal in number.

I ought to mention that my flock is but a small one numbering only 200 to 230 lambing Ewes according to circumstances & therefore furnishing but meagre data for any inference.

With kind remembrances to your brother who I am glad to hear has not entirely forgotten me3 believe me | very faithfully yours | Jonn. Peel

Charles Darwin Esq re.

CD annotations

2.4 for 4 seasons 2.5] underl pencil
2.6 2 below the females.] underl pencil
4.1 I ought … circumstances 4.2] scored pencil
Top of letter: ‘Keep | Sexes Lowlands- Mountain-sheep’ pencil


CD had asked Peel about relative numbers of sexes in sheep in his letter of 5 March [1868].
Peel bred a type of sheep known as the lonk (see letter from Jonathan Peel, 4 March 1868 and n. 1).
Peel was an old friend of Erasmus Alvey Darwin (see letter from Jonathan Peel, 4 March 1868.


Proportions of male and female lambs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Jonathan Peel
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Knowlmere Manor
Source of text
DAR 85: B19–20
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6020,” accessed on 3 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16