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Darwin Correspondence Project

To P. M. Duncan   19 September 1876

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

Sep. 19. 76

My dear Sir,

On turning out a pile of rubbish in one of my rooms I found a parcel with a fossil coral & a long M.S account (beautifully written) by Lonsdale.1 I believe that this arrived during one of my long illnesses, anyhow it was completely forgotten. From the length of the MS & the many references I suppose that the Specimen must have interested Lonsdale. Therefore I will send you in a day or two by rail the M.S & Specimen, all of which you can throw away if of no interest.2

I hope that I shall have not troubled you in vain and remain, | My dear Sir, | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


William Lonsdale’s manuscript on the fossil coral together with a specimen was sent to CD in 1864; CD had suggested then that he (CD) ought to send them to the Geological Society of London (see Correspondence vol. 18, Supplement, letter to William Lonsdale, 6 May [1864]).
CD evidently forwarded the material to Duncan because, like Lonsdale, he specialised in fossil corals. Duncan had written a monograph on British fossil corals, published by the Palaeontographical Society of London (Duncan 1866–72). Duncan was also president of the Geological Society at this time. Lonsdale died in 1871 (ODNB).


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

Duncan, Peter Martin. 1866–72. A monograph of the British fossil corals. Second series. Being a supplement to the ‘Monograph of the British fossil corals,’ by MM. Milne-Edwards and Jules Haime. London: Palaeontographical Society.

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.


Encloses coral specimen and manuscript account of it by William Lonsdale.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Peter Martin Duncan
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.498)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10608,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

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