RECORD: Anon. 1914. Obituary of William Erasmus Darwin. The Times (12 September), p. 11. Transcribed by Christine Chua, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 10.2019. RN1

NOTE: The Times report on the disposal of William Darwin's relics (2 November, p. 12) is included here.


DEATH OF DARWIN'S ELDEST SON.- The death has occurred at Sedbergh, of Mr. William Erasmus Darwin, aged 74. He was the oldest son of Charles Darwin, and to his birth may be attributed the origin of a notable department of his father's researches. In his autobiography Charles Darwin says:-"my first child was born on December 27, 1839, and I at once commenced to make notes on the first dawn of the various expressions which he exhibited, for I felt convinced. even at this early period, that the most complex and fine shades of expression must all have had a gradual and natural origin." These notes were intended to furnish a chapter of "The Descent of Man," but the importance of the subject ultimately demanded a separate volume-"Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals," published in 1872.

The Times, Monday, November 2, 1914, Issue 40684, p.12.



Mr. WILLIAM ERASMUS DARWIN, of 11, Egerton place, S.W., and late of Ridgemount, Basset, Southampton, J.P. for Hants, chairman of the South Harts Waterworks Company and a director of the Antwerp Waterwoks Company (Limited), who died on September 8 last, aged 74 year, son of Charles Darwin, left estate in his own disposition of the gross value of £99,696 11s. 2d, of which the net personalty has been sworn at £90,787 0s. 1d.

The testator left to his nephew Charles Galton Darwin the portraits by Lawrence and Ouless of Charles Darwin, his father's medals, snuff-box, christening mug, autobiography, the letters written home by him from "The Beagle," his notebook on children, two early sketches of "The Origin of Species," the Royal Society candlesticks, and other articles, with the request that he would bequeath them to some member of the Darwin family with a similar request in his turn, so that they might remain permanently in the possession of the Darwin family. He also left £1,650 (less any sums given since July 8 last) to the Royal Society.

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