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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Allen Thomson   31 December 1876

68 Palace Gardens Terrace | London. W.

31st. Decr. 1876.

Dear Mr. Darwin

Your letter with Mr. Balfour’s application for admission to the Royal Society was forwarded to me at this place, where Mrs. Thomson and I have been for a few days on a visit to our son and daughter in law.1

I have great pleasure in signing the application which I now return enclosed. I have not known of any person in this country who in my time has so fully mastered the subject of embryonic development, and who in so short a time has made such valuable contributions by his own observations to the knowledge of its details in the Vertebrata as Mr. Balfour: And I look for very important results from the continuation of his researches.2

I have long had a great desire to renew my acquaintance with you, which if I mistake not dates from an early period in Edinburgh as far back as the days of the Old Plinian Society, and I hope that in the Course of next summer when I may be in London I may have the good fortune to meet with you.3

I return to Glasgow tomorrow to resume my College duties after the holidays.4

Believe me sincerely yours | Allen Thomson


CD proposed Francis Maitland Balfour for fellowship of the Royal Society of London; see letter to F. M. Balfour, 13 December 1876. Thomson’s wife was Nina Jane Thomson; his son and daughter-in-law were John Millar Thomson and Louisa Thomson.
For details of Balfour’s publications, see the letter from F. M. Balfour [14] Dec [1876] and n. 2.
As an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, CD had been a member of the Plinian Natural History Society from November 1826 to April 1827. Thomson had also been a member. (Ashworth 1935, pp. 102–3.)
Thomson was professor of anatomy at the University of Glasgow (ODNB).


Ashworth, J. H. 1935. Charles Darwin as a student in Edinburgh, 1825–1827. [Read 28 October 1935.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 55 (1934–5): 97–113.

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.


Is happy to sign F. M. Balfour’s application for admission to the Royal Society.

Remembers CD from Edinburgh days.

Letter details

Letter no.
Allen Thomson
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Palace Gardens Terrace, 68
Source of text
DAR 178: 112
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10740,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

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