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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. A. Ransome-Marriott   1 September 1876

Oakleigh | Timperley | Cheshire

Sept: 1: 1876


It has occurred to me, that the following fact may be useful to you in your investigations.

About a fortnight ago a considerable escape of gas was observed in one stable, a plumber was sent for to ascertain the cause and made the following remarkable discovery; the escape proceeded from three holes about 34 of an inch apart wh: had been gnawed by rats in an ordinary lead gas-pipe, running between the ceiling of the stable & the board of the Hay-loft above.1 The fact is entirely new to me but the plumber had known cases where rats has gnawed holes in lead gas & water-pipes, but the interest of the present case is increased by the circumstance that in gnawing the 2nd. & 3rd. holes the rat must have been subjected to the smell &c of the gas escaping from the first,2 Since the communication with the main pipe is constant.

I am, Sir, | Yrs. Faithfully | J. A. Ransome-Marriott.


CD had received an earlier report of rats gnawing at pipes in letters from Arthur Nicols, [before 10 November 1875] and 10 November 1875 (Correspondence vol 23).
At this time, the gas supplied to a residence would have been a form of manufactured gas, such as coal gas; the smell would have been from various impurities resulting from the manufacturing process (Chandler and Lacey 1949, pp. 60–7).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Reports on rats that gnawed holes in lead pipes.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Arthur Ransome-Marriott
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Oakleigh, Timperley, Cheshire
Source of text
DAR 176: 21
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10586,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24