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THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN

THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN

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THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN

THE DARWIN FAMILY.
The earliest records of the family show the Darwins to have been
substantial yeomen residing on the northern borders of
Lincolnshire, close to Yorkshire. The name is now very unusual in
England, but I believe that it is not unknown in the neighbourhood
of Sheffield and in Lancashire. Down to the year 1600 we find the
name spelt in a variety of ways—Derwent, Darwen, Darwynne, etc.
It is possible, therefore, that the family migrated at some unknown
date from Yorkshire, Cumberland, or Derbyshire, where Derwent
occurs as the name of a river.
The first ancestor of whom we know was one William Darwin,
who lived, about the year 1500, at Marton, near Gainsborough. His
great grandson, Richard Darwyn, inherited land at Marton and
elsewhere, and in his will, dated 1584, “bequeathed the sum of 3s.
4d. towards the settynge up of the Queene’s Majestie’s armes over
the quearie (choir) doore in the parishe churche of Marton.” (We
owe a knowledge of these earlier members of the family to
researches amongst the wills at Lincoln, made by the well-known
genealogist, Colonel Chester.)
The son of this Richard, named William Darwin, and described
as “gentleman, ” appears to have been a successful man. Whilst
retaining his ancestral land at Marton, he acquired through his wife
and by purchase an estate at Cleatham, in the parish of Manton,
near Kirton Lindsey, and fixed his residence there. This estate
remained in the family down to the year 1760. A cottage with thick
walls, some fish-ponds and old trees, now alone show where the
“Old Hall” once stood, and a field is still locally known as the
“Darwin Charity, ” from being subject to a charge in favour of the
poor of Marton. William Darwin must, at least in part, have owed
his rise in station to his appointment in 1613 by James I. to the post
of Yeoman of the Royal Armoury of Greenwich. The office
appears to have been worth only 33 pounds a year, and the duties
were probably almost nominal; he held the post down to his death
during the Civil Wars.

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