Jean Louis [1807 - 1873]
was a Swiss born geologist and zoologist. He emigrated
to the United States in 1846 and was a professor of
natural history at Harvard University from 1847-73.
He developed the novel theory that a previous ice age
once engulfed the entire surface of the earth and supposedly
this ice age separated the two "creation events" of
god. Determined to prove himself right, Agassiz spent
time in the Amazon Basin trying to find proof that glaciers
were once there. He was not successful.
Charles Darwin and Louis Agassiz started a correspondence
in the mid-1840's and soon became good friends. When
Darwin was thinking about starting a comprehensive study
of barnacles in 1846, Agassiz wrote to Darwin that such
research was in great demand and he should by all means
pursue it. Indeed, when Agassiz heard that Darwin was
looking for different varieties of barnacles to study
he sent him a huge crate full of specimens. When "Origin
of Species" was published in 1859, Darwin sent Agassiz
a complimentary 1st edition. Agassiz was not very impressed
with Darwin's theory of natural selection, being convinced
rather that each species was a separate divine creation
ordained by god. During the late 1800's Agassiz became
one of the most influential opponents of evolutionary
theory in the United States.
Charles [1791 - 1871]
the son of a wealthy London banker. In 1810 he attended
Trinity College at Cambridge, then transferred to Peterhouse
College and graduated in 1814. He was elected as Fellow
of the Royal Society in 1816. From 1827-39 Babbage was
the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge and
it was at this time that he developed his analytical
engine (the grandfather of all modern day computers).
He was the author of the "Ninth Bridgewater Treatise,"
a paper which illustrated the divine laws of nature.
Babbage created his analytical engine to show how these
divine laws work.
introduced Charles Darwin to the notion that everything
in nature works according to specific laws. This idea
prompted Darwin to seek out these mysterious laws of
nature as they apply to the transmutation of species.
However, after tinkering with his transmutation ideas
for a short time, Charles Darwin came to see that random
chance events in the natural world must also play a
role in species modification.
Beaufort, Capt. Francis
[1774 - 1857]
Capt. Beaufort was an officer
in the British Royal Navy and fought in the Napoleonic
Wars. He was put in charge of Britain's Hydrographic
Office of the Admiralty in 1824. He was a good friend
of Revd. George Peacock, a mathematics
tutor at Cambridge University.
Capt. Beaufort was officially in charge of the H.M.S.
Beagle, and he played a key role in Darwin becoming
naturalist during the Beagle's second survey mission.
A chain of events which led to this occurrence played
out as follows: Robert FitzRoy was
made Captain of the Beagle in early 1831. He desired
that a well trained naturalist should accompany him
on the Beagle's second voyage, so he wrote to Capt.
Beaufort requesting advice on who would best fill this
position. Capt. Beaufort was not sure who to suggest
so he wrote to his friend, Revd. George Peacock, in
Cambridge, who in turn asked his friend, Revd.
John Stevens Henslow, who then suggested Charles
Darwin would be superbly qualified for the job. One
of Darwin's concerns regarding the voyage was the matter
of ownership of the specimens he sent back to England.
It was standard procedure for all specimens collected
during surveying missions to become the property of
the British Government, although sometimes this policy
varied. Capt. Beaufort assured Darwin that he would
be able to dispose of his collections any way he saw
fit. The rules may have been bent because Darwin would
be paying his own way on the voyage rather than being
a paid member of the crew.
Bradlaugh, Charles [1833
Bradlaugh was one of the more secular
thinkers during the late 1800's and a firm atheist.
He formed the radical idea that the poor of England
would be able to lessen their burdens by learning how
to use contraceptive devices, and as a result, having
less children to feed. He even went so far as to publish
a "do-it-yourself" pamphlet on how to use contraceptives.
His ideas caused a huge uproar across England, and he
was very quickly brought before the London criminal
court for the crime of distributing his heretical contraceptive
to get Charles Darwin to come to his trial and support
him but Darwin refused, claiming his ill health prevented
him from coming to London. In truth, Charles Darwin
had a particular dislike for such radical trouble making
Broderip, William John [1789
A magistrate (justice of the peace)
in the Thames Police Court and an avid naturalist. In
1826 he was one of the founders of the Zoological Society
to look over the shells that Darwin brought back from
the Beagle voyage.
Brown, Robert [1773 - 1858]
Brown was one of the preeminent Scottish botanists of
the day and worked as the curator of the British Museum
in London. Like Darwin, he too was a naturalist aboard
a British survey vessel; in his case it was a survey
of the Australian coastline in 1801. Brown was the first
to describe the cell nucleus (in 1831), and he discovered
that the "particles" inside cells appeared to be possessed
by some sort of mysterious "force." This discovery was
later to be called Brownian Motion.
While Charles Darwin was in London shopping for things
he would need for the Beagle voyage, he consulted with
Brown. He eagerly assisted Darwin on botanic matters
and gave him particular advice on what brand of microscope
he should take with him on the voyage (it was a single
lens unit made by Bancks and Son, the instrument makers
to King George IV). When Darwin returned from the voyage
Brown offered to examine his plant collections, but
Darwin declined because Brown still had a huge pile
of plants from another voyage from six years ago that
he had yet to examine. Charles Darwin did, however,
allow him to examine his fossilized wood specimens from
the Andes Mountains and mushrooms from Tierra del Fuego.
Busk, George [1807 - 1886]
Busk was a surgeon for the Royal British Navy, and after
retirement he became a major contributor to many scientific
societies in Britain. His primary interest was comparative
anatomy. He was a proponent of evolution and a good
friend of Thomas Huxley. On November
3, 1864 he became one of the founding members of the
X-Club, a social dinner club for scientists who wanted
to engage in pure scientific research without the interference
of religious dogma. The X-Club was to become a very
powerful force in Royal Society politics during the
translated Herman Schaaffhausen's 1858 paper on the
discovery of the skull of Neanderthal man which was
recently found in a cave at Dusseldorf, Germany. The
paper was published in the journal "Natural History
Review" in April of 1858. It is very likely that Charles
Darwin read this paper with great interest, as he was
at the time getting ready to publish his Origin of Species
book. Such news of a potential human ancestor would
have reassured him that the topic of evolution was becoming
more acceptable for public discussion.
Carlile, Richard [???? -
Carlile was an English freethinker
who appears to have taken great delight in promoting
anti-Christian sentiments. While Charles Darwin was
attending Cambridge University, Carlile and his friend
Robert Taylor came to town in order to engage the heads
of all the colleges to a debate on the validity of the
Christian faith. They went about causing all sorts of
trouble, seeking out impressionable young students who
may also be freethinkers, and gave many anti-Christian
speeches. The dons of Cambridge would not stand for
this nonsense, and soon Carlile and Taylor were forced
to leave Cambridge.
treatment of Carlile and Taylor by the Cambridge dons
was not soon forgotten by Darwin. The message was quite
clear - preaching anti-Christian rhetoric and challenging
the authority of the Church of England was blasphemy,
and those that dared to cross the line faced severe
ridicule at best; and a prison term at worst (there
were strict laws against heresy during this time).
Chambers, Robert [1802 -
In October 1844 Chambers published
(anonymously) a controversial book titled, "Vestiges
of the Natural History of Creation." This was the book
that brought the notion of transmutation out into the
public arena. It attempted to described the entire evolution
of the universe, from planets to people, as being driven
by a self developing force which acted according to
natural laws. The book was written more for the poor
working class of England rather than the scientific
elite for it appealed to their desire to "evolve" beyond
their wretched economic circumstances. The book received
widespread criticism, mainly because the ideas it contained
went against the old scientific school which adhered
to the idea that nature did not evolve according to
unguided laws, but rather by the divine hand of god.
Despite the harsh criticism, Vestiges sold very well.
The reaction of the scientific
elite to the Vestiges taught Darwin that his own ideas
of transmutation would be met with grave hostility.
This attitude left Darwin faced with a dilemma. On the
one hand, nearly all of his friends were members of
the scientific elite, but on the other hand it was this
same elite group of people that Darwin would rely on
to promote his ideas.
Chapman, John [1821 - 1894]
A medical doctor by trade, he also published the books
of many authors including those of Herbert
Spencer. In the summer of 1851 he bought the publication:
"Westminster Review" which at the time was in a poor
state. His goal was to remake it as a journal for free
thinkers. He soon acquired a number of supporters including
John Stuart Mill, and Thomas Huxley.
Within a short time the journal became a voice for evolutionists.
The success of the Westminster
Review was a sign to Darwin that the discussion of evolutionary
ideas were starting to come out into the open and the
hostility that naturalists once expressed on such matters
was finally cooling down. This was a turn of events
that Darwin had been waiting fifteen years for.
Covington, Syms [about 1816
Covington was a young crew member
of H.M.S. Beagle whose duty was to take care of the
various odd-jobs that constantly needed to be done aboard
a ship. He also played the fiddle.
Syms Covington became Darwin's servant during the spring
of 1833 while they were exploring the interior of Maldonado
in South America. Darwin hired Covington for £30
a year and in short order taught him how to shoot a
gun and stuff birds. After the voyage Covington stayed
on as Darwin's servant, helping him unload his specimens
from the Beagle while they stayed in London. Covington
left England in February 1839 to join the huge migration
of Brits to Australia. Darwin kept up a correspondence
with him for quite a few years.
Campbell, George Douglas
- 9th Duke of Argyll [1823 - 1900]
of Argyll was the Postmaster General of England. He
was a staunch anti-evolutionist who believed in the
sudden appearance of new species by divine intervention.
He also thought that beauty in nature was a clear sign
of god's desire to please mankind.
The Duke of Argyll did not understand how Charles Darwin
missed the obvious point that in natural selection a
"selector" was needed, just as animal breeders make
selective choices. Together with Richard Owen and Asa
Gray, he tried to see to it that the theories of Charles
Darwin did not get a foothold in British society. Ironically
the Duke of Argyll was a pallbearer at Charles Darwin's
Edmonstone, John [???? -
John was a freed black slave from
Guyana, South America, who made his living in Edinburgh
teaching University students the art of taxidermy. He
lived at 37 Lothian Street in Edinburgh, just a few
doors down from where Charles Darwin and his brother,
Erasmus, lived. John learned his trade from Charles
Waterton, an early 1800's British naturalist.
While Darwin was a student at Edinburgh
University he hired John to teach him taxidermy. The
two of them often sat together for conversation and
John would fill Darwin's head with vivid pictures of
the tropical rain forests of South America. These pleasant
conversations with John may have later inspired Darwin
to dream about exploring the tropics. In any event,
the taxidermy skills Darwin learned from him were indispensable
during his voyage aboard H.M.S. Beagle in 1831.
Falconer, Hugh [1808 - 1865]
Falconer was one of the preeminent British paleontologist
of the day. He worked for the British Museum in London.
In 1858 he found some stone tool scrapers in a cave
at the Devon coast. Soon afterwards, other stone tools
were found in the same area dating from pre-iceage times,
thus confirming that mankind had pre-dated the ice age.
Falconer was the gentleman who told Richard
Owen about a lizard-bird fossil discovered in Solenhofen,
Germany. Owen bought the fossil for the British Museum
for £450 and dubbed it "Archaeopteryx" during a
speech he gave to the Royal Society in 1863. Upon further
study it was found that the Archaeopteryx fossil, while
at first looking like a bird, had many features found
only in lizards (teeth, a bony tail, etc.).
Along with George
Busk, Falconer nominated Charles Darwin for the
Copley Medal of the Royal Society in November 1864.
Indirectly, Falconer provided some of the first fossil
evidence for Darwin's theory of transmutation. Indeed,
the previous lack of fossil evidence for species modification
concerned Darwin a great deal, but he figured that transitional
fossils would eventually be found and the Archaeopteryx
specimen fit the bill quite nicely.
FitzRoy, Capt. Robert [1805
FitzRoy started his career in the
British Royal Navy when he was just twelve years old.
In 1826 he took the Lieutenant's Exam and became a commissioned
officer. Shortly afterwards FitzRoy was assigned to
the first survey mission of H.M.S. Beagle under the
command of Capt. Pringel Stokes. FitzRoy was put in
command of the Beagle in August 1828 after Capt. Stokes
killed himself in Tierra del Fuego, South America. In
1831 he was assigned as captain of the second surveying
voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. He was elected Member of Parliament
for Durham in 1841 and was the governor of New Zealand
in 1843, but was dismissed in 1846. After returning
to England, FitzRoy became the head of the British Meteorological
Department where he was a pioneer of weather forecasting.
He also pioneered the printing of a daily weather forecast
in newspapers. FitzRoy was passed up for being chosen
as Chief Navel Officer in the Marine Department, and
in a fit of depression on April 30, 1865, he slit his
Being quite keen
on natural science, FitzRoy desired that an enthusiastic
and well trained naturalist should accompany him on
the second Beagle survey. Furthermore, he desired the
naturalist to be a gentleman of high social standing
who would share meals at his dinner table. Charles Darwin
was suggested as the perfect man for the job and, although
FitzRoy was a bit suspicious of him at first (he did
not like the shape of Darwin's nose!), the two of them
got along very well. Years after the Beagle voyage their
relationship came under heavy strain due to Darwin's
views on evolution.
Forbes, Edward [1815 - 1854]
Forbes was a botanist, biogeographer, and pioneer of
deep sea dredging. He worked at the Geological Survey
for a while and developed the theory that there once
existed a huge sunken continent in the Atlantic ocean
that stretched from Ireland to Portugal and out to the
Azores. He used his "sunken land bridge" theory to help
explain how the same species of plants and animals appeared
in land masses separated by large expanses of ocean.
Forbes was very much against transmutation, saying that
any modifications in a species were caused by the work
thought a lot about how species spread to other land
masses, particularly islands like the Galapagos. He
also thought Forbes was incorrect about his sunken continent
theory and set out to show that plants and animals could
"float" their way to distant lands. Darwin experimented
with plant seeds, soaking them in sea water for up to
months at a time, and then planting them. To the surprise
of his fellow naturalists nearly all of them germinated!
He then corresponded with inhabitants of islands, asking
them to examine the shoreline for any seeds or plants
not native to the island. He was surprised to find that
in some cases seed pods had floated thousands of miles
across the ocean to the shores of distant islands. Darwin
also recruited the help of British survey vessels, asking
them if they ever noticed floating "land rafts" with
animals on them in the middle of the ocean. It was not
long before he got confirmation that such life rafts
Fox, William Darwin [1805
William Fox was Charles Darwin's
great uncle's grandson. Like Darwin, Fox prepared for
the clergy at Cambridge University and was also an avid
beetle collector. He graduated from Cambridge in the
winter of 1829 and took a parish on the Isle of Wight.
Darwin and Fox immediately
became fast friends at Cambridge and they used to go
out collecting insects together. Fox taught Darwin volumes
about natural history, especially entomology. He also
introduced Darwin to Revd. John Stevens
Henslow, Professor of Botany at Cambridge.
Gould, John [1804 - 1881]
Gould was a famous British ornithologist, a writer of
bird books, and an excellent nature artist. He worked
for the Zoological Society in London, first as a bird
stuffer, and later working his way up to more respectable
gave his Galapagos Island bird specimens to Gould in
January 1837. Gould very soon figured out that the various
species of birds that Darwin gave him were in fact all
finches (13 species, in fact), and not gross-beaks,
wrens, finches and blackbirds as Darwin had thought.
A few days later Gould discovered that the main variation
of the finches was the shape of their beaks. At the
time the discovery of this variation did not seemed
very important to Darwin. A few months later Darwin
recognized that the immigrants to the Galapagos Islands
became modified somehow, each species being uniquely
adapted to a particular island.
Grant, Robert [1793 - 1874]
Grant was trained as a doctor, but put aside a medical
practice in order to study marine biology. He was a
radical freethinker who was against the authority of
the church and saw no divine intervention in the natural
world. He tried to push forward the idea that the fossil
record showed evidence of animals progressing from lower
forms of life to higher forms. He was also a great admirer
of Lamarck. In the middle of 1827
Grant left Edinburgh University to teach at the just
opened London University.
Robert Grant became a very close friend of Charles Darwin
in 1826 when Darwin was a student at Edinburgh University.
They would often go out on long walks together at the
Firth of Forth, and estuary outside of Edinburgh, discussing
marine life and collecting specimens. On these walks
Grant would fill Charles Darwin's head with evolutionary
ideas, especially those of Lamarck. When Darwin returned
from the Beagle voyage in 1836 he found that Grant had
become far more radical in his views against the church
and the scientific elite, especially those at Cambridge.
However, by now it was the scientific elite of Cambridge
who were Charles Darwin's best friends so their relationship
became very strained. Grant offered to examine Darwin's
specimens of coral but Darwin turned him down, presumable
because he did not want Grant's name attached to his
Gray, Asa [1810 - 1888]
Gray was educated in medicine at the Fairfield College
of Physicians and Surgeons, and graduated in 1831. He
was a professor of natural history at Harvard from 1842-88
and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences
in 1863 for his work on botany. Gray believed that evolution
took place, but only under the guiding hand of god.
Gray helped Darwin with
his botanical research by sending him many seed and
plant varieties to experiment with. On September 5,
1857 Darwin wrote to Gray outlining of his views on
transmutation along with an abstract of his upcoming
work: "Natural Selection". His book: "Origin of Species"
was eventually published in 1859 as an abstract of the
bigger "Natural Selection" book. Darwin sent Gray a
copy of "Origins of Species" in 1859. Like many other
naturalists, Gray's main criticism of the book was that
natural selection required a selector.
Haeckel, Ernst [1834 - 1919]
Haeckel was a medical doctor in Germany. He read Darwin's
Origin of Species in 1859 and was so taken by it that
he quit his medical practice to study natural history
at the University of Jena. By 1862 Haeckel had become
the professor of comparative anatomy at Jena. Although
he was a supporter of evolution he did not agree with
Darwin that natural selection was the primary driving
force behind it. Haeckel leaned more towards the Lamarckian
view of evolution; that the environment itself was a
direct influence on the production of new species.
He was an avid promoter in
Germany of Darwin's evolution ideas. Charles Darwin
met him in October 1866 at Down house and again in October
1876. There were some communications problems at their
meetings, but they got along splendidly. He was a very
loud speaking gentleman and Darwin's wife, Emma, could
not stand to be in the same room with him.
Henslow, Revd. John Stevens
[1796 - 1861]
John Stevens Henslow was born
on 6 February 1796 at Rochester, and was the eldest
of eleven children. Like Darwin, Henslow had an innate
appreciation for nature and was at a very early age
an avid collector of specimens. In 1814 he entered St.
Johns, Cambridge, where he studied science. He graduated
in 1818, and in the same year joined the Linnean Society
of London. A year later Henslow was elected a Fellow
of the Geological Society. He was Professor of Mineralogy
1822 - 1825 at Cambridge, and Professor of Botany 1825
- 1861. His method of teaching was quite distinct in
that he took his students on field trips into the countryside,
and invited them to his house for dinner where discussions
on various scientific topics were more informal.
Throughout his life, Henslow took an active interest
in nearly all fields of science - mainly focusing on
botany, geology, mineralogy, entomology, mathematics,
and chemistry. During his time at Cambridge University
he expanded and remodeled the Botanical Gardens, and
in a short time made them world class. Henslow became
the curate of Little St. Mary's church in Cambridge
in 1825, and in 1837 he was transferred to the Rectory
of Hitcham in Suffolk where he contributed greatly to
the well being of the local community. While at Hitcham
he took great interest in the archaeology of the local
area and made numerous discoveries. Henslow engaged
in many philanthropic endeavors during his life, mainly
towards his parishioners. He resided in Hitcham until
his death on 16 May 1861.
Rev. John Stevens Henslow had perhaps the greatest influence
on Darwin's early scientific career. While studying
for the clergy at Cambridge, Darwin was introduced to
Henslow by his cousin, William Darwin
Fox. Soon after their first meeting Darwin began
to attend Henslow's Friday night dinner parties, soaking
up the knowledge that Henslow dispensed to his students.
In 1830 Henslow became his private tutor in math and
theology, and invited the young Darwin to attend his
botany lectures. It was not long before Henslow marked
Darwin out as a young man with much potential. Henslow
and Darwin often went on long walks together in which
they discussed all matters of scientific inquiry.
After Darwin graduated from Cambridge he read Humboldt's
text on his South American travels. This book inspired
Darwin so much that he planned to go off and explore
Tenerife Island in the Canaries. Revd. Henslow encouraged
the young Darwin to go on this adventure and, seeing
that Darwin would benefit from a crash course in geology,
he asked Adam Sedgwick teach Darwin
the principles of geology.
Revd. Henslow had
a profound influence on Darwin getting the job of naturalist
aboard the Beagle on its round the world voyage. In
the correspondence that Darwin and Henslow exchanged
during the voyage, Henslow encouraged Darwin, suggesting
which specimens to collect and advised him on the proper
manner of preserving and shipping them. Henslow had
published and read some of Darwin's letters to him before
the Cambridge Philosophical Society - this made Darwin
Upon Darwin's return from the
Beagle Voyage, Henslow helped him get funding to publish
his Zoology books (with the help of Thomas Rice, MP
for Cambridge). When Darwin moved to the village of
Downe, Henslow advised him on parish matters, having
had much experience already at his own parish at Hitcham.
Darwin and Emma named their children: Annie, George,
and Leonard, after Henslow's children
Herschel, Sir John [1792
Herschel was a leading British astronomer,
mathematician, and physicist during the 1800's. He was
a graduate of St. John's College at Cambridge and was
a friend of George Peacock and Charles
Babbage. Herschel was elected a Fellow of the Royal
Society in 1813, received the Royal Society Copley Medal
in 1821 and 1847, and the Royal Society Royal Medal
in 1833, 1836 and 1840. During the mid-1830's he resided
in Cape Town, South Africa, to head up the newly built
British Royal Observatory.
Right before going on the his voyage around the world,
Darwin read Herschel's book titled, "Preliminary Discourse
on the Study of Natural Philosophy." This book instilled
in Darwin's mind the notion that there were no limits
to what scientific investigation could discover. Darwin
wrote the section on geology for Herschel's book: "Manual
of Scientific Enquiry" (1849). Darwin was buried next
to Sir John Herschel in Westminster Abbey.
Hooker, Joseph Dalton
[1817 - 1911]
Hooker was the assistant surgeon
aboard H.M.S. Erabus on its famous Antarctic expedition
under the command of Capt. James Ross from 1839-43.
In February 1845 he was invited to teach botany at Edinburgh
University for the following spring term. Hooker became
botanist for the Geological Survey at Charing Cross
in February 1846. In late summer of 1848 Hooker went
on a natural history expedition to India. He returned
to England in 1851 and shortly after married Revd. Henslow's
daughter. He became assistant director at the Royal
Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1855 and was made director
in 1865. Hooker arranged for Charles
Lyell to be buried in Westminster Abbey in 1875.
Hooker met Charles Darwin
in 1839 and soon after Darwin gave him the opportunity
to examine and catalogue the plants that he brought
back from Tierra del Fuego. In January 1844 Darwin told
Hooker about his transmutation theory. His reaction
to it was a bit guarded. He agreed that there may be
change within a species but he had yet to come across
a satisfactory theory of how such change took place.
Shortly after this Darwin adopted Hooker as his botanical
fact gathering assistant. He came to Darwin's house
in the village of Downe in December 1845 at which time
Darwin picked his brains for data on plant distribution.
Within a short time Hooker became a regular visitor
to Down House and by February 1846 Darwin had come to
greatly rely on him as a research assistant, sometimes
having him stay up to a week at the house. Hooker spent
a great deal of time reading over Darwin's 1858 manuscript
on transmutation, and was very helpful in giving a lot
of editorial advice.
Huxley, Thomas [1825 - 1895]
Although Huxley had no formal education he was a voracious
reader in his youth, pouring over text on all varieties
of science and philosophy. When fifteen years old he
was a doctor's apprentice and from 1846 to 1850 Huxley
was surgeon and naturalist aboard H.M.S. Rattlesnake.
The research he did on marine invertebrates during this
time won him high praise back in England, and in 1854
he began lecturing at the School of Mines in London.
He won many awards, including the Royal, Copley and
was at first an opponent of evolutionary ideas, believing
that the living world had stayed pretty much the same
over eons of time. Over the years his views changed
and by the 1860's he was a defender of Darwin's theory
of evolution and obtained the nickname "Darwin's Bulldog."
Huxley did more than anyone else to advance the acceptance
of evolution among scientists and the public alike.
In 1863 his book, "Evidence on Man's Place in Nature,"
he set out a comprehensive review of what was known
at the time about primate and human paleontology and
ethnology. It was an extremely controversial book because
it was the first to claim explicitly that humans had
an ape-like ancestor.
Jenyns, Revd. Leonard [1800
Jenyns was an avid beetle collector,
in fact one of the best in Cambridge during the 1830's.
He did, however, have the reputation of being a tad
bit stingy with his collections. He had a parsonage
in Swaffham Bulbeck, just outside Cambridge. Jenyns
was one of the people offered the job of naturalist
aboard H.M.S. Beagle, but he turned it down because
he was very busy with his parish at the time.
While attending Cambridge University,
Darwin became good friends with Leonard Jenyns and he
often visited him at his parsonage in Swaffham Bulbeck.
After Darwin could find no one else to examine the collection
of fish he brought back from the Beagle voyage, he gave
them to Jenyns to look over, about 137 species in all.
Jenyns had the most difficult time with the fish, as
he knew next to nothing about their anatomy.
Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste [1744
Lamarck was a French botanist and
zoologist better known for his "inheritance of acquired
traits" theory. In his youth Lamarck spent a few years
in a Jesuit seminary followed by service in the French
army. Afterwards he studied botany and in short order
became an expert on the subject. He was made assistant
botanist at the French Royal Botanical Gardens and remained
there until 1793. Lamarck published a series of books
on invertebrate zoology and of these "Philosophie Zoologique"
(1809) stated his theory of evolution.
saw evolution as a goal oriented process striving towards
perfection, somewhat analogous to species climbing a
ladder. One result of this view was that he did not
think species could become extinct, rather, they simply
evolved into a different species. For Lamarck the process
of evolution was a simple one - as the environment changes
species need to change how they interact with it in
order to survive. As a species uses a particular structures
more, that structure grows bigger (or smaller if used
less). Any changes that occur in a structure are passed
on to the next generation, hence the term "acquired
Darwin was influenced
by Lamarck's writings early on while studying medicine
at Edinburgh University (see influence by Robert
Grant). By the late 1830's, however, Darwin did
not agree with Lamarck that species evolve in an upward
manner from lower to more advanced forms. By the 1840's
Darwin disagreed with nearly all of Lamarck's theories,
except for the ones regarding acquired traits.
Lyell, Sir Charles [1797
Lyell was one of the most renowned
geologists in Britain during the 1800's. He was educated
at Exeter College at Oxford and afterwards practiced
law for a short time. Over the years he became interested
in natural history and soon became well versed in geology,
so well in fact that he quit his law practice in 1827
to pursue geology full time. Lyell developed the method
of dividing geological strata into groups: the Eocene,
Miocene and Pliocene. His book, The Principles of Geology
(2 vols., 1830, 1832) were somewhat controversial in
England. Some of the basic principles stated in these
books were:  that the earth is continuously in motion,
 the earth is extremely old, and  that raising
and falling land masses explained the earth's geology,
rather than changes in sea levels. Lyell was elected
Fellow of the Royal Society in 1826 and elected president
of the Geological Society in 1835. He was knighted in
1848 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
During the voyage of the Beagle,
Darwin read Lyell's "Principles of Geology Vol.-1" (1830)
and was very impressed by it (FitzRoy loaned him his
copy). While on the Beagle voyage, Darwin used the "Principle"
as a guidebook during his geological expeditions, and
eventually went beyond Lyell by developing his own theories
about coral reef formation. While Lyell thought coral
reefs grew atop submerged volcanic craters and mountain
tops, Darwin theorized that reefs actually grew on top
of themselves as the ocean floor subsided. This theory
was confirmed in the 1950's. Shortly after Darwin returned
to England he met Lyell in person and they became fast
friends. Even though Lyell had doubts about Darwin's
theories of transmutation, he encouraged him to publish
Malthus, Revd. Thomas [1766
Malthus was a famous British economist,
best known for his theories on the interrelation between
populations & available resources. He was curate at
Albury, Surrey for a short time, then became a professor
of economics and history at the college of the East
India Company at Haileybury. His most popular book,
"Essay on the Principle of Population" was very controversial
at the time because it contradicted the notion that
mankind was perfect. He also had dissenting views on
the Poor Laws of the 1830's, claiming that they would
cause much suffering in the long term.
In October 1838 Darwin read his book, "Essay on the
Principle of Population" which, among other things,
put forward the idea that as human populations grow
and resources are depleted the weak die off in a struggle
for existence. Darwin theorized that the same kind of
relationship may exist in the wild. In other words,
what Malthus saw in economics, Darwin saw in nature.
A few years later Darwin was troubled by such Malthusian
ideas because his analogy seemed to favor the wealthy
(those with resources) and go against the working class
poor (those with hardly any resources). Darwin knew
that his ideas about transmutation would never get off
the ground with this affiliation.
Mivart, St. George [1827
Mivart was a self taught zoologist
whose specialty was the anatomy of newts and monkeys.
Mivart became good friends with Thomas
Huxley in 1859 and soon after, with Huxley's help,
became a Fellow of the Royal Society. Mivart seems to
have been a man stuck between two worlds. On the one
hand his scientific background led him to accept ideas
about evolution, but on the other hand his catholic
upbringing led him to view mankind's moral and ethical
nature above those of other species, and therefor man
must have been a special creation of god.
At first Darwin got along quite
amicably with Mivart, tapping his brain for information
on different varieties of newts. After "Origin of Species"
was published (Nov. 1859), however, their relationship
soured. In January 1871, just after "Descent of Man"
was published, Mivart came out with his book, "On the
Genesis of Species." This book was essentially a tactical
strike against Darwin's theory of natural selection.
It outlined several objections to Darwin's theory, namely
that:  the earth had not existed long enough for
natural selection to bring about such a diverse number
of species,  intermediate steps on the path toward
developing new anatomical structures served no purpose
and  he accused Darwin of using his theory of natural
selection to tinker with the foundation of ethics and
morals in British society. Darwin became quite upset
with Mivart, not because of his objections to his theory,
but because of the venomous manner in which he put forth
his objections and because of his attacks on Darwin's
colleagues. The 6th edition of "Origin of Species" included
lengthy answers to Mivart's criticisms, and by the way,
was the first edition of "Origin" to contain the word
"Evolution." Even after all of Mivart's objections were
answered, he still spilled out venomous attacks on Darwin.
In the end Darwin and his colleagues (Huxley, Hooker,
et al) ostracized him.
Murray, John [1808 - 1892]
Owner of the Murray Publishing House in London.
John Murray published all
of Darwin's books starting with "Origin of Species."
Owen, Fanny [???? - ????]
Daughter of William Owen and along with her sister,
Sarah, was a very good friend of Darwin's sisters. While
Darwin was at Edinburgh University his sisters tried
to get him interested in courting Fanny. Darwin spent
many a shooting season at Woodhouse (the Owen estate)
and used to go riding horses into the woods with Fanny
where he taught her how to shoot pheasants.
Fanny was Darwin's girlfriend while
he was at Cambridge University studying for the clergy.
By March 1830 their relationship was fading away. The
reason for this is not entirely clear, but evidently
Darwin had developed too much of a relationship with
his beetles (he had not visited her the previous Christmas,
having stayed in Cambridge to hunt the little critters),
and Fanny was being pursued by other more attentive
suitors. Just after he passed his "little go" exam,
they broke up. While Darwin was on the H.M.S. Beagle
voyage Fanny married Robert Biddulph.
Owen, Richard [1804 - 1892]
Owen is perhaps best known for his work on dinosaur
anatomy, in fact, he coined the word "Dinosaur." He
studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1824
but did not take a degree. Instead he moved to London
where he apprenticed under John Abernathy, a well known
surgeon and philosopher. In 1827 he was an assistant
at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons
and later became the assistant curator. Owen became
a professor at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1836,
and eventually became one of the leading comparative
anatomists in Britain. He was also a Superintendent
of the Natural History Department of the British Museum
Owen was introduced to Darwin by Charles
Lyell in October 1836, and examined many of Darwin's
animal and fossil specimens from the Beagle voyage.
While examining Darwin's fossil collection he discovered
that each one was a distinct species native to South
America, and not related to similar European fossil
species. He wrote "Fossil Mammalia" as a part of Darwin's
Zoology series. Owen was very impressed by Darwin's
"Origin of Species", but had grave doubts about transmutation.
Publicly, Owen came out against the Origin, attacking
it for not acknowledging that new species can come into
being spontaneously from former species. He also did
not understand how natural selection can work without
Peacock, George [1791 -
Peacock studied mathematics at Cambridge
University and as an undergraduate he was friends with
fellow students John Herschel and
Charles Babbage. He graduated in
1812, placing second to John Herschel in the final exams.
During the 1830's Peacock was a mathematics tutor at
Trinity College, Cambridge, and later became a Professor
of Mathematics there.
In August 1831 Peacock was a vital link in a chain of
events that led to Charles Darwin being made naturalist
onboard H.M.S. Beagle. While Capt. Robert
FitzRoy was preparing the Beagle for it's second
survey mission he was eager to have a "gentleman naturalist"
on the ship. He wrote to Capt. Beaufort
of the Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty requesting
his advice on selecting a naturalist for the voyage.
Capt. Beaufort asked a friend for advice who happened
to be a maths tutor at Cambridge named, you guessed
it, George Peacock. Now it turns out that Peacock turned
to his good friend Revd. John Stevens
Henslow for advice on a suitable naturalist and
it was he who suggested Charles Darwin for the job.
Sedgwick, Adam [1785 - 1873]
Sedgwick was the Woodwardian Professor of Geology at
Cambridge University and was one of the most renowned
geologist in all of England. Sedgwick proposed an additional
geological period to the ones Lyell created, calling
it the Cambrian layer and along with geologist Roderick
Murchison, proposed yet another geological period called
the Devonian. In 1829 he became the President of the
Geological Society of London. He was against any theories
of species change, especially those of Lamarck.
Sedgwick thought the influence of such theories would
tear apart the moral fabric of society and spell the
collapse of civilization. For Sedgwick, any changes
that took place in a species were due to an act of god.
Sedgwick was introduced
to Darwin by his old friend, Revd. John
Stevens Henslow. It was Henslow who suggested to
Sedgwick that he ought to take Darwin under his wing
and teach him geology. This took place when Darwin was
planing his Tenerife, Canary Island expedition. During
spring term 1831 Darwin attended many of Sedgwick's
geology lectures and found them most enjoyable. During
the summer of 1831 Sedgwick and Darwin went on a geological
tour of North Wales where he gave Darwin a crash course
on field geology. Sedgwick was upset and disappointed
by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
What he objected to was the apparent amoral and materialist
nature of Darwin's proposed mechanism, natural selection,
which he thought degrading to humanity's spiritual aspirations.
Sedgwick believed in the divine creation of life over
long periods of time
Spencer, Herbert [1820 -
Spencer was self-taught in the natural
sciences. He had a brief stint during the late 1830's
as a railroad engineer and was an editor for "The Economist"
in the late 1840's. He wrote a series of books called
the "Principles" which covered such topics as biology,
morality, psychology and sociology. Spencer was a long
time believer in evolution, and firm believer in the
notion that progress through specialization was a natural
law. He was also a adherent to the principles outlined
One of his books in the Principles series was, "Principles
of Biology." It was in this book that he coined the
phrase, "Survival of the Fittest" which quickly became
a substitute for Darwin's phrase, "Natural Selection."
Spencer was a proponent of social Darwinism, that is,
the application of Darwin's theory to society as a whole.
Spottiswoode, William [1825
Spottiswoode was educated as a mathematician.
He attended Balliol College at Oxford in 1842. By 1846
he was working in his father's printing firm, Eyre and
Spottiswoode - the Queen's printers. After his father's
death in 1846 he was put in charge of the firm. In 1853
Spottiswoode was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
of London and was elected president of the Society in
It was Spottiswoode
who was partially responsible for getting Charles Darwin
buried in Westminster Abbey. Under Francis Galton's
advice, he asked the Darwin family at Downe if they
would allow Darwin to be buried at Westminster Abbey.
Spottiswoode was one of the Pall-bearers at the funeral
and was himself buried in Westminster.
Wallace, Alfred Russel [1823
Wallace is best known for developing
his own theory of evolution which was very similar to
that of Charles Darwin's. In 1848 he and his friend,
Henry Bates, set off on a natural history expedition
to the Amazon Basin in South America. He headed back
to England in the summer of 1852, bringing with him
a vast collection of specimens for the British museums.
Disaster struck, however, for on the way across the
Atlantic the ship Wallace was on caught fire and all
his collections were lost at sea. He was rescued, fortunately,
and spent the next few years publishing two books of
his travels in South America.
his money for a few years Wallace set out on another
expedition in 1854, this time to the Far East. He spent
a great deal of time studying the plants and animals
of the Malaysian islands, noting their distribution
patterns and their differences with similar species
in Australia. During his stay at the Malay Archipelago
he started to develop a theoretical explanation to account
for these differences and came up with a theory of natural
selection. Wallace returned to England in April 1862.
He was a prolific writer and is best known for his book,
"Malay Archipelago" (1869) which he dedicated to Charles
Darwin, and "Contributions to the Theory of Natural
sent Darwin skins of birds from his eight years of travels
in the Far East. In 1855 Wallace wrote a twenty page
paper titled, "On the Law which has Regulated the Introduction
of New Species" and had it published in "Annals and
Magazine of Natural History". Charles
Lyell read this paper and thought much of it and
tipped off Charles Darwin about it, but he was not as
impressed, thinking it a bit to vague on the specifics
of the theory. In 1858 Wallace wrote another paper titled,
"On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely
from the Original Type" and sent a copy of it to Darwin
for review. He did not agree with Wallace's idea of
natural selection as an environmental weeding out process
of those not able to adapt, whereas Darwin said that
competition was the weeding out process. Wallace also
saw transmutation as having a goal, that is, the building
toward the perfect man, he tried to mix social morality
with evolution, suggesting and upward progression of
morals toward a socialist utopia.
On 1 July
1858 Wallace's paper along with parts of Darwin's working
manuscript form 1844 and an 1857 letter to Asa
Gray were read before the Linnean Society in London.
In early 1881 Wallace found himself on hard times, living
on about £60 a year, supporting a family, and having
a difficult time finding a job. He was somehow living
off the meager returns from his investments and book
sales. Darwin, together with Huxley,
Hooker and Spottiswoode,
urged Prime Minister Gladstone put forward a proposal
before Parliament to provide Wallace with a pension
of £200 a year, and this was granted.
Waterhouse, George [1810
Waterhouse was a fellow insect collector
with Darwin during his Cambridge days. He was curator
of the Zoological Society in 1837. Along with Frederick
Hope, he founded the Entomological Society in 1833.
An anti-evolutionist, he organized all animal classification
into wheels with no genealogical relation between them.
He was the gentleman who went to Germany to buy the
Archaeopteryx fossil for the British Museum.
Waterhouse catalogued many of the
animals that Darwin brought back from the Beagle voyage.
Darwin helped him get a job at the British Museum after
his curator job came to a sudden end. He named one of
his sons after Darwin.
Wilberforce, Bishop Samuel
Wilberforce was one of most
prominent religious figures in England during the 19th
century. He attended Oriel College at Oxford University
in 1823 where he studied for the clergy. In 1828 he
became an ordained clergyman and took a parish at Checkenden.
During his long career Wilberforce published several
books, hymns, short stories, and bible tracts. In 1840
he became the Canon of Winchester and in 1841 started
lecturing at Oxford. He became the dean of Westminster
in 1845 and in the same year was chosen as the Bishop
of Oxford. He became the Bishop of Winchester in 1869.
Wilberforce led an attack
of Robert Chamber's book, "Vestiges
of the Natural History of Creation" in July 1847 (see
Robert Chambers for information on this book). He gave
a vehement sermon at the church of St. Mary in Oxford
before a packed house of scientists and clergymen alike.
All in attendance agreed with him that the universe
does not evolve and is not self sustaining. He felt
that because Chambers was an atheist he was blind to
the divine creative forces of god. Shortly before the
"Origin of Species" was published (Nov. 1859) Lord Palmerston,
the current Prime Minster of England, suggested to the
Queen that Darwin was worthy of knighthood. However,
the publication of the Origin created such a commotion
that the proposal was withdrawn, partially due to the
influence of Bishop Wilberforce.
years later Wilberforce was involved in another debate
on evolution. This one took place on the weekend of
30 June 1860 at a meeting of the British Association
for the Advancement of Science at Oxford University's
Museum Library. The paper being read that day was by
Professor William Draper of New York University, and
his topic was the influence of Darwinian theory on social
progress. There were about 700 to 1,000 people stuffed
into the room. Apparently the talk was only mildly interesting,
but most of those in attendance stayed to the end because
they wanted to hear Wilberforce respond to the talk,
and since Huxley was there as well,
a lively debate on evolution was sure to follow. More
information about this debate is given in the Darwin