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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Wedgwood to Emma Darwin   [before 4 January 1871]1

Barlaston, | Stone, Staffordshire.

My dear Emma

I will look after Charles’s commission with a great deal of pleasure—2 The field in which this house stands is old ridge & furrow & probably has been pasture time out of mind as it is called The Cow Hill in a plan I have 160 years old— Cow Hill must mean a pasture I think—. If Charles is not in a hurry however I will wait till it is eaten barer towards the spring— it was not half stocked last summer & so is so full of feg3 that the slope of the land is a good deal masked. If it is an object to Charles to have a very old pasture I remember 50 years ago in the Kings Park at Edinburgh between Arthurs Seat & Salisbury Crags4 a patch of ridge & furrow in the pasture which set me speculating about how it should ever happen that a patch in a place like that should have been ploughed— Perhaps Charles might have some zealous friend at Edinburgh that he could get to look at it. There is one thing to be considered however as to ploughed up pastures that they are not unlikely to date no longer ago than about 70 years when wheat was I think as high as a guinea a bushel paper currency of course. Has Charles any friend about Rugby— Almost all the old pastures there are ridge & furrow & much higher & wider ridges than in this country.

I am very glad you took pity on Mabel & asked her to join your Christmas party—5 it would make up to her the missing much such a jolly party at Pandyffryn where Rose & she were asked to go & dance & where Rose now is—6 it however has turned out not quite so jolly as was expected owing to somebody being kept away by somebody else’s death— my information you see is not very accurate but names unless there is something concrete about them do not stick in one’s head. The party breaks up on Tuesday & then Rose comes home but goes off again in the week to a ball at Uttoxeter, and on the 9th we go up to Town for our London season— We shall go to the South Kensington7 at first & look out for lodgings but I am not sure we should not do as well to stay there— it would save us bringing up a servant— Fanny is at Brighton at her old quarters The Grand Hotel where she has found some of her last years acquaintances (not the Greek Prince though)—8 The guests in one day varied from 150 to 60— perhaps the 150 was the Christmas complement— she says it is very cold there— I think it was nothing but the hopes of warmth & perhaps a little impatience of home when others were going away that made her go so if she finds it cold she will be glad to join us in Town on the 9th. I have been in solitary grandeur all last week for Amy is with the Kempsons & Godfrey & Cecil with Cecily—9 my solitariness however has been mitigated by going down to Emily’s the first part of the time & their coming up here the last—10 I suppose it will be pretty much the same when Rose & I go to Town & leave Godfrey Amy & Cecil here. Cecil is to begin with a private tutor immediately—my schoolmaster from Etruria11—a very good teacher & disciplinarian who is now that I have handed over the schools to the schoolboard in disponability—12 By a good disciplinarian I do not mean a strong arm for the use of the cane but just the reverse— he kept excellent order in his school and never as far as I believe even so much as boxed a boys ears— he had the rare knack of making boys obedient without punishment

I hope Henrietta is better— when I saw her in Town at Cumberland Place she did not look very well13

Best love to all— | your affect brother | F Wedgwood

CD annotations

1.1 I will … ploughed— 1.10] crossed pencil
2.1 I am … punishment 2.26] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘old furrowed fields’ pencil, circled pencil


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Francis Wedgwood, 4 January 1871.
For CD’s commission, see the enclosure to the letter to Archibald Geikie, 30 December 1871. CD was interested in the gradual obliteration of ridges and furrows in fields. See also Earthworms, pp. 292–7.
Feg: ‘grass not eaten down in the summer, that grows in tufts over the winter’ (H. Wedgwood 1859–[67], 2: 76; see also OED, under ‘fog’).
King’s Park is also known as Holyrood Park. Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh, is at the centre of the park, and the Salisbury Crags are to the west.
Wedgwood refers to his daughter Mabel Frances Wedgwood. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), she arrived at Down on 15 December 1870 and came down with the measles on 18 December.
Wedgwood refers to his daughter Constance Rose Wedgwood. Pendyffryn is a house near Penmaenmawr in North Wales.
The South Kensington Hotel.
Frances Wedgwood, Wedgwood’s wife, spent as little time in Staffordshire with her husband as she could (B. Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 291). The Greek prince has not been identified.
Wedgwood refers to his daughters Amy Wedgwood and Cecily Mary Hawkshaw, his son Godfrey Wedgwood, and Godfrey’s son Cecil; and to his niece Louisa Frances Kempson and her husband, William John Kempson.
Wedgwood’s son Clement Francis Wedgwood and his wife Emily lived nearby (B. Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, p. 291).
Etruria was the Wedgwood factory in Staffordshire. The schoolmaster has not been identified.
Disponibility: ‘condition of being at one’s disposal’ (OED).
Wedgwood refers to Henrietta Emma Darwin. Cumberland Place was the home of Hensleigh Wedgwood, Wedgwood’s brother.


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.


Will observe old furrowed fields for CD in the early spring. Suggests locations in Scotland and Rugby with ridge and furrowing in old pastures.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis (Frank) Wedgwood
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 181: 49
Physical description
4pp †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7426,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19