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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Saville-Kent   25 October 1877

4 Marine Terrace St. Clements | Jersey,

Oct 25th. 1877.

To Charles Darwin Esqre. F.R.S.—

My dear Sir

You will I think be pleased to hear that I have at length a definite prospect of carrying the proposition submitted to you last spring, & the accomplishment of which I may say has been the main object of my ambition during my several years “Apprenticeship” as Naturalist to the leading English Aquaria—Namely—the establishment of an Institution specially devoted to the interests of Marine Zoology & Pisciculture & that shall place at the disposal of British Naturalists those facilities for pursuing Marine Biological Research which under existing auspices can be obtained no nearer than Naples.1

It would certainly have been more to the credit of the Country & more to my own satisfaction if such an Institution could have been established by Private Munificence instead of through the medium of a Public Company—2 Science, however, must nowadays make the most of such opportunities as present themselves & I am only too glad to be able to report to you that the undertaking as set forth in the accompanying Prospectus is on the eve of being carried into execution.3 The Society was in fact Registered by the Jersey States4 last Saturday & by January next I anticipate we shall be in a position to commence active building operations. Numerous promises of support have already been received & I am hoping that the Members of the various Scientific Societies will take, if even ever so little, an interest in it. With the view of enlisting such aid I issue the circular letter enclosed—5 As a sure guarantee that the premises of the Institution shall be used only for Scientific purposes I may refer you to Clause No. 7 of the accompanying Memorandum of Association.6

Should the object & intention of this Institution as now submitted to your notice meet with your approbation to an extent justifying your support of it in any way—or your favourable mention of the same to others interested in the advancement of Marine Biological Science I need scarcely say how grateful I shall be. If again you should at any time have works or papers bearing upon the subject of Marine & general Biology—more especially when edited by yourself—to spare, your contribution of the same to our Library will be greatly appreciated. In return I shall hope at an early date to be able to render you some assistance through the medium of our Dépôt (see Prospectus) by the transmission of living or carefully preserved specimens for Museum or other purposes that you may in future require & of which the Channel Islands produce so luxuriant a variety— Assuring you that when in need of such desiderata either personally or for friends my best services will be always at your command.

I remain, My dear Sir | Yours very truly | W Saville Kent.

P.S | I am hoping by & by for the full development of the Scientific advantages that this Institution will have to offer, to add to the present Working Committee a second Technical one consisting of the more eminent Biologists of the day. Such a Technical Committee should direct the special branches of Scientific investigation pursued in the Laboratories, receive & utilise the Periodical Reports, & by the weight of their authority secure to the Institution that prominent Scientific position I am ambitious that it should eventually attain— Perhaps when the time for the election of such a Technical Committee arrives you might be induced to concede to the Society the lustre & advantages of your high talent as a member of the same.


Saville-Kent had requested CD’s support to establish an aquarium on Jersey (see letter from William Saville-Kent, 26 March 1877). He had previously worked at the Brighton aquarium and the Manchester aquarium. The Naples Zoological Station with its large aquarium provided facilities for visiting researchers (Heuss 1991, pp. 156–7 and 164). CD had provided substantial support for the Naples station (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter to Anton Dohrn, 7 March 1874).
CD had declined to have his name attached to a proposal for a commercial aquarium, but had offered to consider subscribing to one established purely for scientific purposes (see letter to William Saville-Kent, 28 March [1877]).
The prospectus has not been found.
The States of Jersey is the parliament and government of the British Crown dependency of Jersey in the Channel Islands. In October 1877, Saville-Kent had registered his company under the name of the Channel Island Zoological Station, Museum & Institute of Pisciculture Society Limited (Harrison 1997, p. 34).
This circular has not been found.
This memorandum of association has not been found.


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

Harrison, Anthony James. 1997. Savant of the Australian seas: William Saville-Kent (1845–1908) and Australian fisheries. Hobart: Tasmanian Historical Research Association.

Heuss, Theodor. 1991. Anton Dohrn: a life for science. Translated from the German by Liselotte Dieckmann. Berlin and New York: Springer Verlag.


Enlists CD’s support for a marine biological research institution to be built soon on Jersey.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Saville-Kent
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 6
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11209,” accessed on 22 September 2021,