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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hensleigh Wedgwood   [13–9 March 1859]1

Oxford & Cambridge Club

My dear Charles

I don’t know whether you admit those showers of fishes as an undoubted fact, but I ascertained that this was certainly the case with the one mentioned in the Times last week.2 The fishes fell in a violent shower of rain in the yard of our colliery over a space of about 100 yards long by 14 or 15 broad3 A large proportion fell on the roof of our engineers shed about 25 high in the ridge Others in a puddle in the yard which is dry in dry weather & these were living & were gathered by several of the people. The overlooker had a lot of them in a goldfish jar which were minnows & stickleback

The birds were busy with those that fell on the roof which of course were killed

A story loses nothing by telling & a lady on the train told us she understood they were forced to sweep them away with besoms.

Affecty yours | H Wedgwood

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘Shower of fish’ pencil; ‘18’4 brown crayon, circled brown crayon


The date is that of the week following the report in The Times mentioned in the letter (see n. 2, below).
A fall of fishes was described in a letter to The Times, 10 March 1859, p. 7. The letter reported that the event had taken place on 9 February 1859 at the village of Mountain Ash in Glamorganshire.
Mountain Ash is located in the great coalfield of South Wales. The Wedgwood China Company owned a colliery in nearby Llanhilleth, which was connected by railway to a branch of the Monmouthshire canal in which the Wedgwood family were prominent investors (see Hadfield 1967, pp. 127, 131).
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the means of dispersal of plants and animals.


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]


HW has confirmed the report in the Times of a shower of fish (minnows and sticklebacks) that fell on the Wedgwood colliery.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hensleigh Wedgwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.2: 262
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13854,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7