DECEMBER - Events sorted by day of the month:

December 03 1831
Darwin was in Plymouth and started sleeping onboard the ship. He was given quarters in the chart room, one deck above Capt. FitzRoy's quarters, at the stern of the ship. The chart room was nine feet by eleven feet and had five feet of generous headroom. The walls were lined with bookshelves, cabinets, an oven and a wash stand. To make matters worse, the mizzenmast came up through the floor and a large four foot by six foot chart table sat in the middle of the room. In all, there was about six feet by eight feet of space to work in. Darwin lived in this room, on and off, for nearly five years.

December 06 1836
Darwin returned to London and disposed of all his fossils at the Royal College of Surgeons. He spent the next week engaged in looking for naturalists to take his other specimens.

December 06 1856
Emma and Darwin had another son, Charles Waring Darwin.

December 07 1854
With his barnacle research out of the way, Darwin went back to work on transmutation.

December 09 1859
Darwin returned to Down House from Ilkley Spa.

December 09 1859
John Murray started making arrangements to print a 2nd edition of "Origin of Species", this time 3,000 copies. Also, a German translation was in the works.

December 13 1836
Darwin left London for Cambridge and stayed at Revd. Henslow's house. While there he gave a talk to the Cambridge Philosophical Society about the formation of glassy tubes that were formed when lightening struck the sandy beaches near Maldonado, South America.

December 15 1881
While Darwin and Emma were in London for the holidays, he experienced strong pains in his chest. The next day a doctor was called for, but Darwin appeared to be fine by then.

December 16 1836
Perhaps because he felt his was imposing on the Henslow's, Darwin moved out and took lodgings in 22 Fitzwilliam Street, Cambridge.

December 18 1832
After passing through the straight of Le Maire at Tierra del Fuego, the Beagle anchored at Good Success Bay. Here Darwin had his first encounter with savages. He was shocked by the primitive way of life they led but was also fascinated by them. A group of four male Fuegians met the landing party. After an attempt to communicate with the Feugians the party presented them with some bright red cloth and the Feugians immediately became friendly with them. The natives initiated a dialogue by patting the crewmen on their chests. Apparently they had the most amazing ability to mimic the crew's gestures and even the words they spoke, often repeating whole English sentences back to them. Darwin was bewildered by all this.

December 21 1835
The Beagle arrived at New Zealand. Darwin was not too impressed with the natives, whom he viewed with suspicion (they practiced cannibalism before the missions arrived).

December 22 1857
Darwin replied to a letter that Wallace sent him on 27 September. He praised Wallace for his dedication to natural science, and for his work on the distribution of species. Darwin also told Wallace he will not discuss the topic of man's origins, even though it would be of highest interest to naturalists. Darwin pointed out that he had been working on the problem of species origins for twenty years, but would not publish for a few years yet.

December 27 1831
After a few delays, H.M.S. Beagle headed out from Plymouth with a crew of 73 under clear skies and a good wind. Darwin became sea-sick almost immediately.

December 27 1839
Darwin and Emma had their first child, a boy whom they named William Erasmus Darwin, after one of Darwin's great-grandfathers.

Events some time during this month:

December (late) 1859
Lord Palmerston proposed to Queen Victoria that Charles Darwin should be conferred a knighthood. The proposal was abandoned, however, when Bishop Wilberforce intervened to stop the idea.

December (mid) 1872
Darwin stayed with his brother, Erasmus, in London for a week. While there he drew up his will.

December 1827
Darwin began studying for the clergy at Christ's College. His brother, Erasmus, joined him at Cambridge where he would be studying for his medical exams.

December 1828
During winter break Darwin visited London where his brother showed him around to the Royal Institution, Linnean Society, and Zoological Gardens. These visits further ignited Darwin's interest in natural history. Afterwards Darwin visited Woodhouse to see his girlfriend, Fanny Owen.

December 1845
Hooker came to Down House and Darwin picked his brains for data on plant distribution. He became a regular visitor to the house, sometimes staying up to a week at a time.

December 1854
At last Darwin figured out how populations split off into separate species. Using the industrial revolution as a metaphor, he saw that populations of animals, like industry, expand and specialize to fit into niches with competition acting as the driving force. He saw nature as the ultimate "factory". However, Darwin preferred not to make much of this metaphor because it seemed to depend more on economic principles rather than pure science.