MAY - Events sorted by day of the month:

May 01 1833
Darwin was dropped off at Maldonado while the Beagle returned to Montevideo. He went on a twelve day interior expedition with two hired gauchos and a team of horses.

May 03 1837
Darwin was influenced by the recent discovery of "fossilized monkeys" in Africa. He conjectured that such fossils were evidence that mankind was descended from some kind of ape ancestor. However, he dared not mention this to anyone, as such talk was tantamount to heresy.

May 10 1838
Darwin paid a visit to Revd. Henslow at Cambridge for a few days and had thoughts of settling there. He did not like London very much, but unfortunately that was where all the "action" was for the natural sciences.

May 14 1856
Darwin started working on a short essay on his theory of natural selection.

May 15 1862
The Orchid book was published today. The full title was : "On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids and fertilized by Insects".

May 18 1861
Darwin's old friend and mentor, Revd. John Stevens Henslow, died of heart disease. Darwin could not bring himself to visit Henslow at his death bed because he was quite ill himself. On a happier note, by now many naturalists in Britain were writing papers on the great antiquity of man. Even Lyell was doing field work on man's antiquity - searching for their fossil remains in the English countryside.

May 22 1833
Darwin returned to Montevideo. In a letter to his sister, Catherine, he asked his father if he would provide the funds for Darwin to hire a servant who would work for him at a rate of about ú60 a year. Syms Covington, the Beagle's odd job man, was to be this servant. During this time Darwin spent a few weeks teaching Covington how to shoot and stuff animals. Now Darwin had more time to make observations and theorize about what he saw.

May 31 1836
The Beagle sailed around the southern tip of Africa and anchored at Simon's Bay near Cape Town.

May 31 1876
Darwin started working on his autobiography.

Events some time during this month:

May - June 1837
Theories of how new species come into being started to fill Darwin's head. He discussed the topic of species change with his new friend, Richard Owen. As far as Owen was concern, each species had its own "organizing energy" which dictated how far a species can change (not very much, according to Owen). Furthermore, there was a relationship between the complexity of a species and the power of this organizing force. Darwin told Owen he agreed with his basic theory, but he did not see why their should be limits to change. Owen then gave Darwin a stern lecture on the subject, reminding him that there was no reason for new species to come into being. Darwin was quickly learning to keep his mouth shut regarding the transmutation of species.

May (late) 1839
The three volume narrative of the Beagle voyage was finally published. It included Capt. Philip King's narrative of the first Beagle voyage, and Darwin's and Capt. FitzRoy's narratives of the second. The Victorians were quite keen on books with long titles, in this case it was - "Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836". Unfortunately, the books received luke warm reviews, mainly due to volume two and three being too repetitious.

May (late) 1862
Alfred Wallace finally returned from his travels in the Far East. He came back with haul of 125,000 specimens after six years of travels.

May (mid) 1870
Darwin and Emma spent a restful holiday at Cambridge where they attended Frank's graduation from college with a maths degree. While there Darwin met up with his old friend, Adam Sedgwick, who was delighted to see him. After much conversation Sedgwick took Darwin on a grand tour of the Woodwardian Museum, which sported an excellent collection of geological specimens and fossils.

May 1827
He visited London for the first time, then went with his Uncle, Josiah Wedgwood II, for a tour of Paris. By this time Darwin's father was rather displeased with his son, fearing he will amount to nothing but an "idle gentleman". Plans were made for Darwin to study for the clergy, and his father arranged for him to attend Christ's College at Cambridge University.

May 1842
Part one of Darwin's Geological Observations series - "The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs" was published by Smith, Elder of London.

May 1862
Huxley's book: "Man's Place in Nature" was published. It was a compilation of his lectures on humans, apes and evolution, and it infuriated the church. As a counterattack to Huxley, Owen advocated what he called a "Special Creative Energy" which initiated the spontaneous formation of new species from existing ones. Huxley challenged Owen to answer the question - "Was man spontaneously created from an ape?" Owen's reply was that man's creation was preordained by god, and where man came from was of no importance. It should be noted that Owen was not against the idea of one species changing into another, only that he did not think naturalistic evolution was the agent of change. It was not long before the followers of Darwinian evolution saw Owen as an outcast among the scientific elite.