RECORD: Peile, John ed. 1913. Biographical register of Christ's College 1505-1905 and of the earlier foundation, God's House 1448-1505. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Vol. 2. [Darwin entries only]

REVISION HISTORY: Photographed by John van Wyhe; transcribed (single key) by AEL Data, corrections by van Wyhe 6.2007, other entries OCRed and corrected by van Wyhe 5.2008. RN3

NOTE: Only the entries on the Darwins and Hensleigh Wedgwood have been transcribed.

Thanks to the Honorary Keeper of the Archives, Geoffrey Thorndike Martin, for allowing a copy in his possession to be photographed.

[page] 403

*Wedgwood, Hensleigh: son of Josiah: born in Dorset. School: Rugby, under Dr Wooll. Admitted pensioner under Mr Shaw 3 Feb. 1821. Age 19. B.A. (8th wrangler, Class. Trip. III.) 1824; M.A. 1828. Kept one term at St John's. Admitted scholar 9 May 1821. Admitted at Lincoln's Inn 21 Jan. 1825. Admitted Fellow (Finch and Baines) succeeding E. Baines, 18 Feb. 1829. Fellowship declared vacant 23 Oct. 1830. Resident (1829) at 6, Holborn Court, Gray's Inn. Seventh son of Josiah Wedgwood, potter, of Maer, Staffs., and of Bessy Allen of Cresselly: elder brother of Emma, wife

[page] 404

of Charles Darwin. Appointed Police Magistrate in 1831. Married in Jan. 1832 his cousin Fanny, daughter of Sir James Mackintosh. Resigned his office 1837 because of scruple about administering oaths. Appointed to registrarship of metropolitan carriages 1839—17. One of the founders of the Philological Society, 184-2, and always an active member of it. Published in 1857 Dictionary of English Etymology—in which he attacked Max Müller's view of the nature of roots in language. The merits of this book (in which he maintains that language arises from the imitation of natural sounds, as opposed to the ultimate elements of Max Müller) were not seen, owing to the great temporary popularity of his opponent: but they have since been fully recognised. He lived a very quiet retired life—always suffering from weak health—but with great enjoyment and strong family affections. He was "always easy and comfortable, and free to talk about anything without any preoccupation of mind." (Mrs Darwin.) He had six children—among them Julia, a well-known essayist, Euphemia, Lady Farrer, and Hope who married Godfrey Wedgwood her first cousin. Died 1 June 1891, aged 88.

[page] 408

Darwin, Erasmus Alvey: admitted pensioner under Mr. Shaw 9 Feb. 1822. M.B. 1828. Born 1804, elder son of Rob. Waring Darwin, M.D., of Shrewsbury: brother of Charles R. Darwin (1827). Friend of Thomas Carlyle and Hensleigh Wedgwood. Lived in London. Suffered through life from weak health: but impressed others greatly. Distinguished by a great charm of manner and a strong sense of humour. Had "the same playfulness [as Charles Lamb] the same lightness of touch, the same tenderness. I remember his being called a universal solvent. He contributed to intercourse the influence that combines dissimilar elements" (Julia Wedgwood, letter to Spectator). "We came to that simply furnished, somewhat ascetic, London drawing-room looking out on the bare street, knowing that he was weary and ill, and had been alone and would be alone again, and yet went away with a glow reflected from his atmosphere, a sense that the world was better for his presence" (Mrs R. B. Litchfield—niece). "Men said he lived a dilettante life. They reproached him with the selflessness that made him somewhat languid. Others, they seemed to aver, were amateurs of this art or that: he was an amateur at living" (Alice Meynell). He died 26 August 1881 after four days' illness. "He was weary of life, which was a struggle with continual ill-health."

[page] 414

Fox, William Darwin: admitted pensioner under Mr Shaw 26 Jan. 1824. B.A. 1829; M.A. 1833. Son of Sam. Fox, J.P., of Osmaston, Derby, and of Anne, daughter of Will. Alvey Darwin of Sleaford. Cousin of Charles Darwin, who caught beetles with him at Cambridge and corresponded with him from Cambridge when Fox had ceased to reside: and the correspondence (which is still preserved) went on till death. Rector of Delamere, Cheshire 9 July 1838-1873, when he resigned owing to ill-health. "His love of natural history remained strong and he became a skilled fancier of many kinds of birds, &c." (Life of C. Darwin, 1. 172: where are to be found many letters to him from Darwin.) Died 1880.

[page] 428

Darwin, Charles [Robert]: admitted pensioner under Mr Shaw 15 Oct. 1827, B.A. 1832 [Darwin passed his exams in January 1831 but he had not resided the required ten terms in Cambridge and is therefore technically listed under 1832]; M.A. 1837 [The Christ's College Commencements book 1831-1928 (T.8.2) gives the date 1836]; Hon. LL.D. 1878 [actually 17 November 1877]. Born at Shrewsbury 12 Feb. 1809, younger son of Robert Waring, M.D. and of Susannah, daughter of Josiah Wedgwood: grandson of Erasmus Darwin: brother of Erasmus Alvey (1822). Educated at Shrewsbury: at Edinburgh University from October 1825 until 1827. Came into residence at Cambridge Jan. 1828: had rooms, first in Sidney Street, then in College (those occupied, according to tradition, by Paley) in the middle staircase of the first court, right hand side: there is a medallion of him in the room. Intended to take Holy Orders: and of the books which he studied at Cambridge, he considered Paley's Evidences and Moral Philosophy the most educative. A popular man among his friends, with whom he rode, shot and collected beetles; E. T. Vaughan, who came into residence in 1830, bears witness to the respect for his knowledge and character felt by under-graduates. (Coll. Mag. Mich. Term 1893.) He never went to Sedgwick's lectures on Geology (always well attended) having been disgusted with the teaching of this subject at Edinburgh. Attended Henslow on Botany and went with him on his field excursions, also to his Friday evenings, and so became intimate with him, frequenting his house and walking with him: he also met there and came to know other older men, as Whewell. Admitted to the title of B.A. 26 Apr. 1831 as soon as he had kept the requisite ten terms: he passed the examination in January: in June he left Cambridge. Naturalist on board H.M.S. Beagle Dec. 1831-Oct. 1836: "by far the most important event in my life...determined my whole career"—enabling him to make observations of many kinds in the south part of America and the South Sea islands: the value of his work was recognised in England even before his return: "he will have a great name among the naturalists of England" (Sedgwick, 7 Nov. 1835). Settled in Cambridge, 10 Dec. 1836, to put in order his geological collections: lived in Fitzwilliam Street, but seems to have been treated as a fellow-commoner (informally) in College: remained there till March 1837, commencing his Journal of Researches (known in later editions as A Naturalist's Voyages): then he settled in London, where he published the Journal and for several years he took part in preparing for publication the geological and zoological results of the voyage—ending with the book on Coral Reefs, 1842. On 29 Jan. 1839 married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. His work was hindered by ill-health, partly caused by his voyage and its hardships, which affected him through life. In Sept. 1842 he settled at Down, Kent mainly to avoid meetings of learned societies and general social duties: there for his remaining 40 years he lived a life of incessant study and observation during the few hours of each day in which his health allowed him to work. Successive books were "the milestones in my life." Some of these (for the full list see the end of Vol. III. Of his Life by his son, Francis Darwin) were his monographs on Cirripedia (barnacles)—at which he worked between Oct. 1846 and 1854: as to which he doubted whether "the work was worth the consumption of so much time"—a judgment with which Huxley disagreed. From 1854 to 1859 he was preparing to publish on Evolution, The Origin of Species being a condensation of a larger book which exists in MS. The Origin of Species ("no doubt, the chief work of my life"), was published Nov. 1859. It brought him fame at once. In 1862 appeared the Fertilisation of Orchids—ten months' work on facts previously accumulated: in 1868 the Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication at which he had worked for eight years: in 1871 the Descent of Man, which took three years to write: in 1872 the Expression of the Emotions: in 1875 Insectivorous Plants, sixteen years after his first observations: in 1876 Effects of cross-and self-fertilisation: in 1880 the Power of Movement in Plants in which his son, F. Darwin assisted him, and in 1881 the fascinating book on the action of Earthworms on which he had read a paper forty years before. The record of

[page] 429

prolonged reflection on these subjects ending in slow and careful statement of the results, is most remarkable. "During the last 30 years (he said in May 1881) I am not conscious of any change in my mind, excepting in one point": viz. that up to 30 he enjoyed English poets: "now (1881) for many years I cannot endure a line of poetry." He had novels read to him and enjoyed them "if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily." His mind, he said, "had become a sort of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts." His estimate of himself was that, "with such moderate abilities as I possess, it is truly surprising that I should have influenced to a considerable extent the belief of scientific men on some important points." At his death, and now, more than a quarter of a century later, the estimate of the world has been that he was the greatest English naturalist of the nineteenth century.

The Senate House was crowded on 17 Nov. 1877 when he was admitted to the Hon. LL.D. degree. It is said that he was persuaded to come to receive the degree only by the assurance that at ordinary congregations almost no one was present. The undergraduates, who filled the galleries and cheered heartily, suspended (in place of the wooden spoon on the day of admission of Honour candidates) a monkey—quite to Darwin's satisfaction.

He had six sons and four daughters: two of whom died in infancy, the eldest son Will. Erasmus was admitted at Christ's in 1858, and the third son Francis (B.A. (Trin.) 1870) was Fellow of Christ's 1887-1904, afterwards Honorary Fellow. He would have been himself elected Hon. Fellow, had the statutes of 1882 been passed in time. He died at Down 19 Apr. 1882, aged 73—and was buried in Westminster Abbey, April 26. Portrait (by Ouless) in the College Hall.

[page] 555

Darwin, William Erasmus: eldest son of Charles Robert [1827], "insignis philosophus." School: Rugby. Admitted pensioner under Messrs Hays and Gunson 13 March 1858. Born 27 Dec. 1839.

B.A. (12th jun. opt.) 1862; M.A. 1889. Member of the Geological and Anthropological Societies. Director of Grant and Maddison's Union Banking Company, Southampton. J.P.: and member of the C.C. Chairman of the Southants. Water Company. Married 1877 Sarah Ashburner Sedgwick, daughter of Theodore Sedgwick, lawyer, of New York: she died Oct. 1902. Removed soon after to London. Resident (1911) at 11, Egerton Place, S.W. Brother of Francis, the Fellow.

[page] 746

*Darwin, Francis: admitted a member of the College upon election to Fellowship 8 Dec. 1888.

Third son of Charles Darwin, LL.D. (1827) and brother of William Erasmus (1858): born at Down, Kent 16 Aug. 1848. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, B.A. (Nat, Sc. Trip. 1st class) 1870; M.B., M.A. 1875; Sc.D. 1909. At St George's Hospital. Did not practice medicine, but became assistant to his father at Down; after the latter's death settled at Cambridge where he succeeded Dr S.H. Vines (1872) as Reader in Botany in 1888, resigning in 1904. F.R.S. President of the British Association 1908-9. Elected Honorary Fellow of the College 1906. Dr Darwin is also LL.D. of St Andrews, and D.Sc. of Dublin, Liverpool and Sheffield Universities and has received the Diploma of the Honorary Degree in the Faculty of Science from the Université de Bruxelles. Married (1) 1874 Amy (died 1876) second daughter of Laurence Ruck, of Pantlludw, and (2) 1883 Ellen (died 1903) second daughter of John Crofts. Publications: Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 1887; Charles Darwin, 1892; More Letters of Charles Darwin (with A.C. Seward), 1903; Foundations of the Origin of Species, 1909; Practical Physiology of Plants (with E. H. Acton), 1894; Elements of Botany, 1895; and various papers on physiological botany from 1876 onwards. Present address: 10, Madingley Road, Cambridge.

This document has been accessed 15306 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 2 July, 2012