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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. S. Wade   11 September 1873

York Street, Wakefield

Septr 11th 1873.


I recently attended a case of Typhoid Fever in a man here   he is Coal Miner, I found he was affected with the condition of the Eyelids called Ancyloblepharon,1 and noticing two of his children had the same affection I enquired into the case & found it was not in his family nor his wife’s nor ever had been as far as their knowledge went, I found also that the affection was not congenital in him but came on as the result of fits during his infancy, now it struck me that this 〈ca〉se in a remarkable degree supported your theory that acquired peculiarities become hereditary, I have therefore photographed him and his children, and enclose them, I need scarcely say that you must overlook all defects as I am only a tyro in the Art, only taking a photo occasionally when I come across a case professionally that I think worthy of recording in that way, they however putting aside all artistic effect shew well the peculiar condition of the eyelids, I enclose also photo of his eldest child who has not the defect

I send you duplicate photos of the affected children: In those on a larger scale I told them to open their eyes as much as they possibly could, the smaller ones are taken as they usually are making no effort to hold them more open than is usual with them.2

I shall be glad to hear your opinion of the matter, I am intending to bring the case before the West Riding Medico Chirurgical Society at the October meeting3

I am | Yours faithfully | W. S. Wade. L.R.C.P. &c &c.

To— Darwin Esqe | Beckenham.

[Enclosure 1]


Father, who became subject to Ancyloblepharon the result of fits in infancy.

[Enclosure 2]


Second child.

[Enclosure 3]


Third child.

[Enclosure 4]


2nd & 3rd children girl the elder of the two.

[Enclosure 5]


Eldest Child not subject to the affection.

CD annotations

1.3 two of his] underl red crayon
1.5 not congenital] underl red crayon
1.6 of fits] underl red crayon
Envelope: ‘Inherited imperfection 〈o〉f eyelids’ ink


Ankyloblepharon is a disease that causes the fusion of the ciliary edges of the eyelids (see G. M. Gould 1899).
The smaller photographs are those in enclosure 4, in which the eyes of the two children appear closed.
The Leeds and West Riding Medico-Chirurgical Society was founded in November 1872.


Gould, George M. 1899. An illustrated dictionary of medicine biology and the allied sciences. 4th edition. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston’s Son & Co.


Reports case of a man with an eyelid abnormality that apparently was acquired in infancy but was inherited by his children.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Swift Wade
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 181: 1
Physical description
2pp †, 5 photos

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9050,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21