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Darwin Day Celebration


Charles and Emma Darwin were both fond of children and would eventually have a total of ten with the first one born towards the end of 1839 and the last one in 1856 when Emma was 48 yeas old. Many stories are told about how Charles liked to play with the children and while doing so made many observations about their behavior. Below is a list of the children in chronological order and a few facts about their lives including their date of birth and death.

  1. William Erasmus – b.1839 d.1914. Also called “Doddy” and “Willy” by his parents, who were apparently fond of using nicknames. William was a graduate of Christ’s College at Cambridge University, and became a banker, after Charles Darwin guaranteed the sum of 5,000 pounds enabling William to become a partner in a bank.

    William married Sara Sedgwick from Massachusetts, in November 1877. They had no children.

    William Erasmus Darwin 1849

  2. Anne “Annie” Elizabeth – b. 1841 d. 1851. Anne died of tuberculosis. This deeply challenged Darwin’s belief in Christianity.

    Anne Elizabeth 1849

  3. Mary Eleanor – b. & d.1842. Died a few weeks after birth.

  4. Henrietta Emma (Etty) – b. 1843 d. 1930. Henrietta read proofs for Darwin when she was 18, and edited his manuscript for the Descent of Man. She also edited her mother Emma’s personal letters and had them published in 1904 as Emma Darwin: wife of Charles Darwin. A Century of Family Letters.

    Henrietta married Richard Buckley Litchfield in 1871. They had no children.

    Henrietta 1849 Henrietta 1851

  5. George Howard – b.1845 d. 1912. Studied at Trinity College. George was an astronomer and mathematician. He made statistical studies of cousin marriages and studied the evolution and origins of the solar system. George wrote a paper on the age of the earth that lead to his nomination to the Royal Society in 1877 and his becoming a Fellow in 1879. In 1883 he became the Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge University, and was a Barrister-at-Law.

    George married Martha (Maud) du Puy from Philadelphia. They had two sons, and two daughters.

    George Howard Darwin 1851

  6. Elizabeth (Lizzie, Betty, Bessy) – b. 1847 d. 1926 [1928 according to Keynes]. Apparently had communication difficulties with words and pronunciation. After living awhile in London near Erasmus Darwin, Elizabeth bought Tromer Lodge, a house in Downe near Henrietta’s residence, in 1868. Elizabeth never married and had no children.
  7. Francis (Frank) – b. 1848 d. 1925. Studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, first studying mathematics, then studying and graduating in natural sciences in 1870. Studied medicine at St. Georges Medical School, London, earning M.B. in 1875, but did not practice medicine.

    Darwin nominated Francis to the Linnean Society in 1875 and promoted a paper Francis sent to the Royal Society. He became a botanist specializing in plant physiology. He helped his father with his experiments on plants and was of great influence in Darwin's writing of “The Power of Movement in Plants” (1880). He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1879, and taught at Cambridge University from 1884, as a Professor of Botany, until 1904.

    He married Amy Ruck but she died when their first child, Bernard, was born in September of 1876. Bernard was raised by Emma and Charles Darwin, his grandparents. Francis married Ellen Crofts in September of 1883, and they had one daughter, Frances in 1886.

    He edited many of Darwin's correspondence and published Life and Letters of Charles Darwin in 1887, and More Letters of Charles Darwin in 1903. He also edited and published Darwin’s Autobiography.

    Francis was knighted in 1913.

  8. Leonard – b.1850 d. 1943. Leonard considered himself the stupidest of the children. He was sent to Clapham School in 1862 and joined the army after school. Attended Woolwich Military Academy and trained as military engineer.

    He became a soldier in the Royal Engineers in 1871, and was a Major from 1890 onwards. He taught at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham from 1877 to 1882, and served in the Ministry of War, Intelligence Division, from 1885-90.

    Leonard married Elizabeth Fraser in July of 1882. Later he married Charlotte Mildred Massingberd (1868–1940), but had no children with either wife.

    Leonard later became a Liberal-unionist MP for the town of Lichfield in Staffordshire 1892-95.

    He was interested in photography and surveying. [Browne, Power, p.333] He was an officer of the Royal Geographical Society from 1908 to 1911 and then its President.

    He was Chairman of the British Eugenics Society between 1911 and 1928. Served as President of the First International Congress of Eugenics in 1912.

    Emma and Leonard Darwin

  9. Horace – b. 1851 d. 1928. His schooling was interrupted by illness. Around 1860 the apparent illness may have been motivated by feelings for Camilla Ludwig, the Darwin’s young German governess. He had a tutor before entering Trinity College in 1868. He graduated in 1874, later than normally expected. Horace suffered from self-doubts about his abilities.

    Horace was also a designer of scientific instruments. In 1885 he founded the leading instrument maker Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company.

    He was the Mayor of Cambridge from 1896-97, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1903. Horace married Emma Farrer in January of 1880 and they had three children.

  10. Charles Waring – b. 1856 d. 1858. Died of scarlet fever.