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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edward Blyth   21 September 1868

7 Princess Terrace, | Regts. Pk,

Septr. 21 /68

My dear Sir,

Yesterday I met Mr. Bond (of whom you doubtless know) in the Z. G.,1 & talking to him about the “top-knot turkey”, he stated that about 40 years ago he rented a shooting-place in Staffordshire, where he used to put up at a neighbouring farm-house; and that in that farm there was a breed of buff or Cream-coloured turkeys, amongst the young of which it was not unusual to find two or three with the top-knot, though not so finely developed as in Mr. Bartlett’s bird.2 Those birds were, however, disliked by the owner of them, who consigned them always to the spit! Now I suppose that the breed had been crossed with the top-knot turkey many years previously, and that this ancestral character or peculiarity “cropped out” occasionally, and might doubtless have been easily recovered to its full extent by selection in breeding.— Many thanks from the ‘India Sporting Review’, from which I shall cull a few notices for L. & W., for which you know I have to find up a supply weekly of readable matter, & subjects do not always readily occur.3

Yours ver truly, | E. Blyth


Blyth refers to the Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park, London, and probably to the naturalist Frederick Bond.
In Variation 1: 293, CD had referred to descriptions of turkeys with a ‘top-knot’ or crest of feathers. In his letter of 3 August 1868, Edward Blyth had told CD of a living specimen from Africa recently acquired by Abraham Dee Bartlett, superintendent of the zoological gardens.
The India Sporting Review was published in Calcutta from 1845 until at least 1858 (BLC). Blyth published frequently in Land and Water, often under the pseudonym ‘Zoophilus’, or simply ‘Z.’ (ODNB).


BLC: The British Library general catalogue of printed books to 1975. 360 vols. and supplement (6 vols.). London: Clive Bingley; K. G. Saur. 1979–88.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Discusses the top-knot turkey and the occasional appearance of the top-knot in a breed of cream-coloured turkeys.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edward Blyth
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Princess Terrace, 7
Source of text
DAR 160: 222
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6383,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16