Brayley Testimonials

An introduction by R. B. Freeman

It was customary, through much of the nineteenth century and indeed until later, for applicants for Chairs to send printed letters with supporting testimonials. These confidential pamphlets were submitted to governors and members of selecting bodies. Few copies were printed and they tend to survive, if at all, only in the archives of the Universities concerned. I know of three to which Darwin contributed testimonial letters, T. H. Huxley applying to Toronto in 1851 (F344), W. Boyd Dawkins applying to Cambridge in 1873 (F1216), and this one, the earliest. There may be more. Darwin refused to supply one to Alfred Newton, on the foundation of the Chair of Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge in 1865, on the ground that a specialized knowledge of birds was not what was wanted in the interests of zoology (in F1595, p. 45): Newton was appointed in 1866 and retained the Chair until his death. He also declined to provide one for George Robert Gray, of the British Museum, who was applying, in 1869, for an unspecified post, on the ground that he did not know enough of Gray's work (in F1596, pp. 92-93).

Brayley had applied in 1841, on the foundation of the Chair, but it went to Thomas Webster. On Webster's death in 1844, he applied again with these additional testimonials, but owing to a lack of funds, the post was not filled. The only copy of these additions, as well as of the originals of 1841, known to me is in private hands: University College London is without them.

Darwin, C. R. 1845. [Testimonial.] In Brayley, E. W., Additional testimonials submitted to the Council of University College, London, by Edward William Brayley... a candidate for the Professorship of Geology. London: Richard and John E. Taylor, p. [7]. Text F324a


From: Freeman, R. B. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d ed. Dawson: Folkstone.

NOTE: With thanks to The Charles Darwin Trust and Dr Mary Whitear for use of the Bibliographical Handlist. Copyright. All rights reserved. For private academic use only. Not for republication or reproduction in whole or in part without the prior written consent of The Charles Darwin Trust, 31 Baalbec Road, London N5 1QN.

Corrections and additions copyright John van Wyhe, The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online - National University of Singapore.


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