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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Allen Wedgwood1   21 February 1847


21 Feb. 47

My dear Charles

I am sorry you are subject to such “an ignorant impatience” of running in debt. You will never make a stag.2 I met Mr Phillips3 in town instead of going down to Newport, and he persuaded me to take my shares in a handsome way unconditionally, but those of Eliza4 & Aunt Sarah5 I have taken under the condition you will find reversed on the 4th page of this note,6 which I think a better condition than one referring to any particular proportion, and indeed it refers to what Mr Phillips himself assured me in that if the issue at £140 did not go off and if it was necessary to offer them for sale at a lower price, the committee would take care that those who had accepted at £140 should have a proportional abatement made to them.7

He also told me that Mr Blakemore8 one of the committee who had agreed to advance £10000 on debentures would if necessary instead of debentures take new shares at £140 to that amount, because they do not expect any difficulty in filling the debentures— I hope therefore to hear that a sufficient number of shares is taken, but he also mentioned in confidence that one of the committee was not hearty and wanted to get them at a lower price though not openly— This I presume is only matter of suspicion. In any event the condition on the other side would make acceptance safe if you were not a white livered slave of Salt and securities.9

Send this to Jos—10 I have written to At . Sarah.11 London— 22d Feb 1847 My dear Sir

I am authorised by Mr Hensleigh Wedgwood Mrs Sarah Wedgwood and Miss Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood (of the Hermitage) to accept their respective allotments of new shares at £140, on condition that a proportionate reduction in the price of them shall be made to the above parties if the new shares which are declined by the proprietors are afterwards sold at a lower price than £140.


The correspondent is identified from the handwriting. Henry Allen (Harry) Wedgwood was Emma Darwin’s brother. The letter is unsigned but appears to be complete.
In commercial slang, a ‘person who applies for an allocation of shares in a joint-stock concern solely with a view to selling immediately at a profit’ (OED).
Thomas Phillips, mine owner and philanthropist.
Sarah Elizabeth (Eliza) Wedgwood, CD and Harry Wedgwood’s first cousin.
Sarah Elizabeth (Sarah) Wedgwood, CD and Harry Wedgwood’s aunt.
See last paragraph of this letter.
In January 1847 the Monmouth Canal Company issued over 800 new £100 shares, which they offered for sale at £140 in an attempt to raise money to build a railway (Hadfield 1967, pp. 151–2). See also n. 9, below.
Richard Blakemore, manufacturer active in the affairs of various Welsh industrial and transport companies.
Thomas Salt, partner in the Shrewsbury law firm of Dukes and Salt and lawyer to the Darwin family. CD was already an investor in the Monmouth Canal Company and he purchased ten further shares of the 1847 issue (see n. 7, above). However, CD did not purchase his shares until 27 April, and he paid £100 a share, not £140 (CD’s Investment Book (Down House MS)). The company’s January issue had been unsuccessful, with only about a quarter of the shares taken up at the price of £140. In April the company again attempted to raise capital, this time successfully offering shares at £100. In the short term, the investment was not a good one, as the Monmouth Canal & Railway Company, as it was renamed, ran into difficulties with its railway construction plans and was soon short of capital again (Hadfield 1967, pp. 151–8).
Josiah Wedgwood III, Emma Darwin’s brother and a trustee of CD and Emma’s marriage settlement.
The sentence ‘Send … Sarah.’ was written on the first page of the letter, below the address and date.


Hadfield, Charles. 1967. The canals of South Wales and the border. 2d ed. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles in conjunction with the University of Wales Press. [vols. 4,7]

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Concerning the purchase of shares.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Allen (Harry) Wedgwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 1020)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1062,” accessed on 7 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4