skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To a local landowner1   [1866?]2

Dear Sir.

As you are now so little on your Farm, you may not be aware that the necks of your horses are badly galled, as I have been informed by two persons.3 I hope you will immediately attend to this, for though I shd be very sorry to give trouble or annoyance to yourself from whom I have always received much civility, I must for the sake of humanity attend to this.4 A conviction for working Horses with galled necks is easily obtainable, on sufficient evidence being produced & I was most unwillingly compelled, after vainly remonstrating with Mr Ainslie by letter on the subject, to get the Officer of the Royal Humane Soc. to come down here & attend to the case, & Mr Ainslie was fined by the Magistrates at the Bromley Session.—5 I sincerely hope that you will at once make enquiries & give strict orders to your Bailiff not to work any horse with a wounded neck6

& | I remain | Dear Sir | Yrs faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The recipient has not been identified; he was apparently a farmer or landowner in Down or its neighbourhood.
The year is conjectured from the endorsement ‘ ’66’ in Francis Darwin’s hand.
CD’s informants have not been identified.
For CD’s interest in animals, and their humane treatment, see Atkins 1974, pp. 78–84, and n. 5, below. CD’s original wording of this sentence referred to his obligation ‘as a magistrate’ to become involved in this matter (see ‘Manuscript alterations and comments’).
In 1852, CD had arranged for an officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to inspect horses owned by Robert Ainslie of Tromer Lodge, Down (letter from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [23 April 1852] (DAR 219.1: 4)). CD refers, apparently in error, to the Royal Humane Society, which was established in 1774 to promote better techniques and resources for saving people from drowning (P. J. Bishop 1974). CD was himself a magistrate from 1857 (Milner 1994, pp. 90–4). For information on the Darwins’ involvement with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the campaign for humane vermin traps, see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix IX. For the society’s emphasis on ‘humane’ objectives between 1837 and 1870, see Fairholm and Pain 1924, pp. 162–4.
The bailiff has not been identified.


Requests that correspondent take some action regarding the state of horses on his farm. The bailiff, Ainslie, has been fined following CD’s complaints.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Landowner, local
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 27r
Physical description
AdraftS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4963,” accessed on 23 April 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14