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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   11 September [1876]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Sept. 11th

My dear dear William

All is over. She was quite unconscious all yesterday & the Doctors thought her sinking yesterday afternoon, but she lasted till this morning & expired at 14 before seven, & I saw her expire.1

There is only one miserable consolation that she did not suffer in the least & never knew that she was leaving Frank for ever, Poor dear sweet gentle creature.— And, now I am going to beg a favour of you in the strongest terms.— I know that you will wish to come to the Funeral (which I hope & suppose will be here) but I request you not to come: the journey will be bad for you & the grief & agitation. I will hereafter explain to Frank that you do not come at your Father’s earnest request.2

God knows what will become of poor Frank, his life will be a miserable wreck. He is too young to care for the Baby, which must be brought here & I trust in God we may persuade him to come here & not to live in his house surrounded by memorials of her.3 It is the most dreadful thing which has ever happened, worse than poor Annie’s death, though not so grievous to me.4 I cannot bear to think of the future. No Father ever had better children then we have & you are one of the best of all.— God bless you.— I hope you keep pretty well   Tell us always about yourself.—

Your mother keeps up her strength well & I have persuaded her to take some opium which has answered well.— Poor Bessy suffers terribly.

Your affectionate Father | C. Darwin

P.S | They have decided that she shall be buried in Wales.5


Amy Darwin had given birth to a son, Bernard Darwin, on 7 September 1876 (ODNB).
William had suffered a concussion following a riding accident in May 1876. After a recuperative stay at Down he and his sister Elizabeth Darwin stayed at Tunbridge Wells for a week, after which they travelled to Leicester and eventually to Scotland, returning to Down on 31 August 1876 (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 13 July [1876] and nn. 3 and 4).
Francis and Amy had lived in Down Lodge after their marriage in 1874 (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1874). Francis returned to live at Down House with his son, remaining there until CD’s death in 1882 (ODNB).
Anne Elizabeth, CD’s eldest daughter, died in 1851, aged 10 (see Correspondence vol. 5). For more on the effect of her death on CD, see A. Desmond and Moore 1991, pp. 275–87, and R. Keynes 2001, pp. 180–98.
Amy was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Corris, near Machynlleth, about five miles from her family’s home, Pantlludw.


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

Keynes, Randal. 2001. Annie’s box. Charles Darwin, his daughter and human evolution. London: Fourth Estate.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Reports the death of Francis’ wife, Amy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
SP 11 76
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 143
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10593,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

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