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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Owen Sr   19 December 1836

My Dear Sir,1

I have been some time in search of a Tutor for my Son Charles, who if nothing better offers I intend for the Church, & as you are now at the seat of learning I take the liberty, which I know you will excuse, of asking if you can assist me in the matter; & I do so, not only because I feel assured you will be happy to do anything you can for me either in this or any other way, but because I have that confidence in your good Judgment that would make me better satisfied by your recommendation of such a Person than by that of almost any Man I know.

I must however tell you that, (as you already know,) I have a large Family & am a poor Man, & therefore cannot afford to pay extravagantly for such a Person—& on this acct. I have already refused two offers—the one requiring £200 per Annum & the other 150 with extras which with travelling expences, Pocket Money & Clothes would make the total expense not much less than 250—& I am told that perfectly competent Tutors & eligible Situations are to be met with for from 100 to 130—which would suit my Finances much better— Charles is I think more than 17 Years of Age but both in appearance & manner is much less— He is a very honorable, & well disposed Boy & has always maintain’d a good Character & a good place at Rugby, & I removed him a few Month’s ago because, though he was doing well, his younger Brother2 who is a quicker Boy, having got three removes in one Year, got into the same Form with him, & I did not like to expose him to the chance of being pass’d by his Junior; an event which might have created a Jealousy or ill blood between them which I thought it better for both should be avoided— And though the younger Boy has the greater Facility in learning the elder I believe has quite as good common sense & will probably make as good & as useful a Man. Whether he is now qualified to commence his Career at the University or not I am not able to say—but he is so Boyish both in manner & appearance that I think it will be for his advantage to pass another Year at least with a good Tutor, & as I feel more inclined to send him to Cambridge than to Oxford I have a further reason for asking your assistance. I need not tell you that Boys at home in the Country will not pay much attention to their Books & I am therefore very anxious to find a good Tutor for him as soon as possible; & I think if the Tutor had two or three other Boys who were pursuing the same studies & were nearly of the same Age it would be a recommendation.—

I suppose you receive frequent accounts from your own Family of whom I shall therefore say no more than that I believe they are all well— Your Sister Katharine was here two days ago & I narrowly miss’d seeing your Father Yesterday at the Lyth.—3

I am almost sorry you are so well & I hope so agreeably employ’d at Cambridge for I fear there is now no chance of my having an opportunity this Winter of renewing my instructions to you in the Science of Shooting—& I am getting so old & so bad on my Legs that I fear I shall not be able much longer to attend to or to instruct you, & you really were so promising a Pupil that I was rather proud of you.— We are all well & all unite in kind regards to you with | Yours most sincerely | Wm. Owen *S 2


Decr. 19th1836

CD annotations

on cover: ‘Revd Edwd Heawood | Sevenoaks | Kent’


The unusual formal salutation and style of the letter suggest that William Owen Sr initially intended it to be an impersonal one that CD could pass on to someone else.
Henry Owen.
A seat near Ellesmere, about 5 miles north-east of Woodhouse.


Asks CD’s help in finding a tutor for his son Charles.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Owen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 139
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 331,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1