Ref NoMS/299
TitleCorrespondence of Farrer and Darwin
AdminHistoryThomas Henry Farrer, first Baron Farrer (1819-1899), civil servant and statistician, was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. Farrer was the son of Thomas Farrer, a solicitor in Lincoln's Inn Fields. He was called to the bar of Lincoln's Inn in 1844 but retired from practice a few years later. He became a civil servant in 1850 when he took the post of secretary to the naval department of the Board of Trade. In 1865 he was promoted and became one of the joint secretaries of the Board of Trade, and in 1867 he became permanent secretary. Farrer was President of the Royal Statistical Society from 1894 to 1896.

He married Frances Erskine (1825-1870) in 1854 and they had four children: Emma Cecilia "Ida" Farrer (1854-1946), Thomas Cecil Farrer (1859-1940), Claude Erskine Farrer (1862-1890), and Hon. Noel Maitland Farrer (1867-1929). Ida Farrer went on to marry Horace Darwin, son of Charles Darwin (1851-1928).

Farrer's first wife, Frances, died on 15 May 1870. Farrer remarried in 1873 to Frances' half-cousin, Katherine Euphemia Wedgwood (1839-1931). Farrer died on 11 October 1899 at Abinger Hall, Dorking.
DescriptionRecollections of Charles Darwin by T.H Farrer [THF] dating from 1850 when they met at Erasmus Darwin's house together with the correspondence concerning fertilisation in plants etc., between 6 May 1868 and 28 August 1881, as well as letters from Darwin to Farrer, dated 1868 to 1881. Also includes 1 letter from Joseph Dalton Hooker to Farrer, dated 23 October 1869.

These letters are interleaved with Farrer's notes of his replies and also to Dr Torbitt's work. Later, Farrer removed from his MS pages or those parts of a page that touched on individual letters which he had previously numbered. At the foot of each extraction he wrote "Here copy the notes marked " and he gave the letter number(s). The numbers are shown below within square brackets and they also indicate the positioning of the separated MS parts.

(A) The first six pages of THF's reminiscences.

DARWIN (to Farrer)
1. Down. 1868 May 6. Had his doubts about the word degradation and has no objection to gradation (3 ff.)
2. Down. 1868 May 19. Admits his error; delighted that THF is interested in orchids (3 ff.)
3. Down. 1868 Jun 5. Ashamed of his inaccuracy; botanical chatter (4 ff.)
4. Down. 1868 Sep 15. He has never known the Hive-Bee to be a cutter; suggests that THF's pages be published in the Annals & Mag. of Nat. Hist, or the Gardener's Chronicle (5 ff.)
5. Down. 1868 Sep 19. Will submit THF's paper to the Annals & Mag. of Nat. Hist.; thinks THF's observations on Lobelia are correct (5 ff.)
6. Down. 1868 Sep 24. Has forwarded the Lobelian appendix (2 ff.)
7. Down. 1868 Nov 26. Gives advice on the method of research that THF should follow. Includes a MS paper entitled 'Charozema' with 2 diagrams dated 27 September [18]68 (8 ff.)
8. Down. 1869 Aug 20. THF's views, if confirmed would be well received by the Lin. Soc. (5 ff.)
9. Down. 1869 Oct 29. Glad to have played a part in getting THF's paper published in Annals (4 ff.)
10. Down. 1869 Oct 20. Chatter about Passiflora (4 ff.)
11. Down. 1869 Nov. Encloses seeds of a third species of Passiflora he had received from Fritz Muller (1 f.)
12. Down. Encloses extract from a letter he had received from Muller about Passiflora in contrast to Tacsonia (3 ff.)
13. Down. 1870 May 13. Encloses a dried flower of Passiflora and accompanying text sent by Muller (3 ff.) [The dried flower specimen and Muller's note are enclosed with the letter.]
14. Down 1870 May 28. Hopes the seeds of Passiflora will germinate; about a Swedish book on the fertilization of plants (6 ff.)
14 a. London. 1871 Mar 2. The parallelism is new to him and seems to hold good; believes that personal property such as flint tools in the earliest period belonged to individuals, just as a bone to a dog or a nest to a bird (2 ff.)
15. (Part of letter, unsigned.) (2 ff.)
16. (List of books recommended to THF.) (2 ff.)
17. Down. 1872 Oct 10. A great pity that Delpino had forestalled THF in his observations on Papilionacae flowers; Suggests THF publishes confirmation of Delpino's work (4 ff.)
17a. Down. 1873 Dec 1. (Postcard) Suggests he refers to p. 497 in Annals & Mag. of Nat Hist. (2 ff.)
18. Sevenoaks. 1872 Oct 13. Congratulates THF on his paper in Nature (4 ff.)
19. Down. 1873 Apr 28. THF should read Muller's book if ever he decides to start work again on insects and flowers (1 ff.)
20. Southampton. 1873 Aug 10. Asks if bees have ruptured or bored cells in flowers of Coronilla; asks also if drops of water have injured leaves in the conservatories (3 ff.)
21. Southampton. 1873 Aug 14. Congratulates THF as the conqueror of a Coronilla; about fertilization; has Mr. Payne [THF's gardener] experienced any plant leaves being injured by drops of water? (8 ff.)
22. Down. 1874 Apr 10. Delighted to hear about the Coronilla; asks if the bee had penetrated and ruptured the cells on the calyx (1 f.)
23. Down. 1874 Jul 4. Discusses THF's paper published in Nature (1874 Jul 2) (4 ff.)
24. Down. 1875 Jul 12. Considers that the experiment with Drosera is well worth a trial (4 ff.)
25. Down. 1874 Jan 18. Grateful for information from the Colonial Office via THF (3 ff.)
26. Down. 1877 Aug 27. Delighted to have visited THF; surprised that THF had found forty active worms in walls of newly-found Roman remains at Abinger (3 ff.)
27. Down. 1877 Sep 24. Grateful for THF maintaining a worm diary; asks if THF will once again look to see how worms got on in Roman remains (2 ff.)
28. Down. 1877. [Darwin, Emma, to THF] Thanks THF for letter about marriage of CRD's son to Sara Sedgwick (4 ff.)
29. Southampton. 1878 May 7. Remaining in Southampton until the Ledum is quite dried up; astonishing number of captured flies; he now cares only about the biology of seedling plants (4 ff.)
30. Southampton. 1878 May 8. (Postcard) Grateful for specimens of Ledum (2 ff.)
31. Down. 1880 Oct 20. Grateful for specimens of worm casts (4 ff.)
32. Down. 1881 Jan 18. Perplexed about the amount of earth residue left on the surface of the chalk. Wishes to ascertain the percentage of earth matter in the chalk. Requests THF let him have chalk fragments and also would like to know the thickness of the vegetable mound (4 ff.) [Signature and part of post-script has been cut off of last page]
33. Down. 1881 Aug 28. Graham's book; chatter; the death of his brother Erasmus (8 ff.)

[Letters 34 to 38 are not included in Farrer's reminiscences; he had not numbered them.]

34. Down. 1880 Oct 1. Has written an account of the worms at Abinger; is the concrete floor quite dry and could THF send him copy of publication about the ruins together with the plan? (4 ff.)
35. Down. 1880 Aug 8. About the excavations of the Roman remains (4 ff.)
36. Down. 1880 Oct 11. (Postcard) About the excavations (2 ff.)
37. Down. 1880 Oct 13. Will send bits of brick to Mr Sorby, the authority on rock structure (3 ff.)
38. Down. 1880 Oct 13. May have made mistakes; asks THF to send him castings from a gravel-walk with underlying brick rubbish. [Includes a note by Farrer relating to Darwin's letter] (3 ff.)

39. (Five pages of Farrer's notes and reminiscences.)

40. Kew. 1869 Oct 23. Thinks Darwin is a wise man; will send Passiflora by post.
Extent2 folders
NotesListed by C.M.Hutt.
AcquisitionDonated to the Library of the Linnean Society by Lady Nora Barlow, the Dowager Lady Farrer (and daughter of Ida Farrer and Horace Darwin), and Mrs Rees Thomas.
Creator NameFarrer, Thomas Henry
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