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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hugh Cuming   28 July 1845

80 Gower Street | Bedford Square | London

28th July 1845

My dear Sir

I was out on Saturday when your letter arrived, otherwise I would have answered it by that day’s post—

The word Oniscia is correct—and Stylifer, is also correct—1 I did not find either of these Genera in the Pacific Ocean they are both to be found in the West Indies— Oniscia is found also in China (two or three Species)— Stylifer is found in the Philippines and the Mauritius and according to Turton2 it is also British.

I have never seen a Monoceros any where but on the West Coast of America and the Galapagus Islands I have seen upwards of 50 parcels of Shells from the Sandwich Islands, but never one of the family amongst them. there is a constant Trade between those Islands and California, and no doubt they might have been carried there by Sailors pay no attention to the information you have gained from Books—

I have never found any of the following Genera, which I found both at the Galapagus and the West Coast of Americ〈a〉 in the Pacific Ocean, nor have I ever received them, from any Collector, viz: Fissurella, Monoceros, or Cancellaria

Should you require any further information, I shall be most happy to give it, if in my power.

I remain my Dear Sir | Very truly yours | H Cuming C Darwin Esqre


Shells collected by Cuming on the Galápagos before the voyage of the Beagle. CD was struck by Cuming’s discovery that seashells from the Pacific and from both coasts of the Americas that do not normally occur together are found on the Galápagos (Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 391). With this letter are three lists of shells in CD’s hand analysing the geographical distribution of the ninety shells collected by Cuming on the Galápagos; one list has brief additions made by Cuming (DAR 205.3 (Letters)). The results are summarised in Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 390–1.
Probably Turton 1840.


Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Turton, William. 1840. A manual of the land and freshwater shells of the British Islands. Edited by J. E. Gray. London.


Discusses names and distributions of Pacific shells. [Lists by CD and Edward Forbes record names and ranges of shells collected by HC in the Galapagos.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Hugh Cuming
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Gower St, 80
Source of text
DAR 205.3: 267, 268
Physical description
2pp, lists 8pp †(by HC & CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 897,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3