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Darwin Correspondence Project

From B. J. Sulivan   16 August [1867]1


Aug 16th.

My dear Darwin

I forgot to speak to you the other day about this shell, but I think you will like to see the account of it.2 Mr Davidson has not quoted me correctly, as he makes me command Beagle. & also say that you never found one, which I could not know.3 What I meant was that if Solander found it in T. D. Fuego—and perhaps near Good Success Bay—as Cook was there—it would be singular if you did not find one all the time you were in T. D F.4 and that as my officers were dredging for four species at Falklands & never found one, it was singular that I should have got this specimen in Port William the only time I ever used the dredge—5 I think I once showed you the shell. I had no idea it was so rare an one until the Gentleman who was here working for the Pleonl. Society6 at Fossil bones saw it and asked me to send it to Mr. D as he thought it a very valuable specimen.

We returned home this day week

With kind remembrances to Mrs Darwin & all your party

Believe me | very sincerely yours | B. J. Sulivan


The year is established by the reference to Davidson 1867 (see n. 2, below).
No record of Sulivan’s meeting CD in August 1867 has been found. Sulivan refers to a shell that he had sent to Thomas Davidson for identification and Davidson’s notice of it, ‘On Waldheimia venosa, Solander, sp.’ (Davidson 1867). The genus name Waldheimia was replaced by Magellania (Doescher 1981, p. 42). The paper has not been found in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
See Davidson 1867, p. 83. Sulivan had been lieutenant on the Beagle from 1831 to 1836, when CD served as naturalist. The commander of the Beagle was Robert FitzRoy (see Correspondence vol. 1). Sulivan was later commander of the Philomel, which surveyed the Falkland Islands from 1842 to 1846 (Sulivan ed. 1896, p. 56 et seq.; see also n. 5, below).
Sulivan refers to Daniel Solander and James Cook. Good Success Bay (now Bahia Buen Suceso) is in the strait of Le Maire, Tierra del Fuego (see Journal of researches, p. 227). While on the Beagle, CD visited Tierra del Fuego from December 1832 to February 1833 and from May to June 1834 (see Journal of researches, pp. 227–44, 263–307; see also R. D. Keynes 2002).
Port William is an inlet on East Falkland Island. Sulivan reported he had dredged the specimen alive in 1843 or 1844 (Davidson 1867, p. 81).
Sulivan refers to the Palaeontographical Society.


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

Davidson, Thomas. 1867. On Waldheimia venosa, Solander, sp. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 20: 81–3.

Doescher, Rex A. 1981. Living and fossil brachiopod genera 1775–1979: lists and bibliography. Smithsonian contributions to paleobiology no. 42. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Keynes, Richard Darwin. 2002. Fossils, finches and Fuegians: Charles Darwin’s adventures and discoveries on the Beagle, 1832–1836. London: HarperCollins Publishers.


Discusses a rare shell found by BJS on the Beagle voyage, an account of which has just been written by Davidson [possibly in Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. 3d ser. 20 (1867): 81–3].

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 289
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5607,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15