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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. W. Clark   8 September 1877

Southampton | (High Street)

8 Sept 1877.

Dear Sir,

On my return from the Continent last month in turning over some old notes I came across the following singular case of inheritance confined entirely to one sex—1

June 1875— A friend informs me that his wife’s “large toes are united to the second toes by skin extending as far as the first joint.” This he says has been the case with all the females in her family for a long time— how long is not known. Of her 3 children the two eldest are girls who also possess the same pecularity   the boy however does not, & it appears that no male member of the family were ever known to.

Believe me dear Sir yours most respectfully | J. W. Clark.


Clark had been studying physics and chemistry in Heidelberg, Germany. CD had discussed the transmission of characters as limited by sex in Variation 2: 71–5. He also discussed inheritance by one sex in humans in Descent 2: 316–84, but in the context of secondary sexual characteristics appearing only in adulthood.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


An example of inheritance confined to one sex.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Warner Clark
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 156
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11131,” accessed on 16 October 2021,