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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Herbert Spencer   2 November 1866

37 Queen’s Gardens | Bayswater W.

2 Nov 66

Dear Mr. Darwin

I was glad to hear from Miss Darwin on Saturday last that your sympathies are with us in the Eyre prosecution matter.1 We want to have as weighty a list of names as we can. Will you let us add yours to the selected list I send herewith.2 Your signature will not involve any active part. On this understanding Huxley has given us his— I inclose a capital letter he has just published3

very truly yours | Herbert Spencer


Spencer refers to Henrietta Emma Darwin and to the Jamaica Committee, which was formed in December 1865 to lobby for the criminal prosecution of the former colonial governor Edward John Eyre for his actions in suppressing an uprising of the ex-slave population in Jamaica. An opposing Eyre Defence Committee was formed in August 1866, and both sides in the controversy sought the support of prominent individuals (see Semmel 1962, pp. 62–5, 105 ff.).
The list has not been found.
The copy of Thomas Henry Huxley’s letter has not been found. The letter appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, 31 October 1866, p. 3 (the text of the letter is reproduced in L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 279–81). Huxley had written in response to an editorial comment in the paper that suggested that his ‘peculiar views on the development of species’ inclined him to treat ‘the negro’ as well as ‘the ape’ as a brother (Pall Mall Gazette, 29 October 1866, p. 9, and L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 279).


Semmel, Bernard. 1962. The Governor Eyre controversy. London: Macgibbon & Kee.


Asks whether CD will add his name to a list supporting them in the "[Edward John] Eyre prosecution matter".

Letter details

Letter no.
Herbert Spencer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 226
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5265,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14