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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   [1871 or later]1

My dear Sir J. L.

All the inhabitants of this place hope that you will endeavour to induce the Post Office to give us better Telegraph communication.2 At present we have to send 4 miles to Orpington; which is a great inconvenience & it is a still greater one that persons telegraphing here naturally direct to B. or B;3 & we consequently have to pay for 3 or 6 miles carriage, & much delay is caused.—4 The Authorities originally intended to give us a T., as the Box & apparatus was sent long ago to the Post-Office here.—5 As you well know, Down though a small, is a thriving place, well supplied with shops, & is a little metropolis for a large rural district.— We all hope that you will lay our case before the Post [Ath]

& I remain Dear Sir John | yours very sincerely | C. D.


The year is established by the references to Post Office telegraphs and the telegraph office in Orpington. The Post Office took over the telegraph system from the railway companies in 1870. A Post Office telegraph office was first recorded at Orpington Station in 1873, but may have existed earlier (Post Office guide 1873).
John Lubbock was MP for Maidstone from 1870 to 1880 (ODNB).
Beckenham or Bromley.
The radius for delivery of telegraph messages free of charge to the recipient was one mile; for distances over three miles, the charge was 1s. per mile (see e.g. Post Office guide, January 1873, pp. 33–4).
Down did not receive a telegraph service until 1896 (Poulton 1896, p. 35).


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.

Poulton, Edward Bagnall. 1896. Charles Darwin and the theory of natural selection. London, Paris, and Melbourne: Cassell and Company.


All the inhabitants of Down hope JL will endeavour to induce the Post Office to improve the telegraph service.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 89
Physical description
ADraftS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7057,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19