Collection RBSC-ARC-1721 - Pearce/Darwin Fox collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Pearce/Darwin Fox collection

General material designation

  • Multiple media
  • Textual record

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Title notes

  • Variations in title: Formerly called the Fox/Pearce (Darwin) collection.

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Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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Physical description area

Physical description

7 cm of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

The Reverend William Darwin Fox was born in April 23, 1805. He was second cousin to Charles Darwin and shared his interest in natural history. In addition to being a naturalist, Fox was also an entomologist, with a particular interest in collecting beetles. He is credited as the person who introduced Darwin to entomology and tutoring him in natural history. Fox and Darwin had quite a close relationship, maintaining regular contact through letters. These letters are considered important in understanding the life of Charles Darwin, as recognized by Darwin’s sons and biographers.

Fox graduated from Cambridge in 1829. He was appointed vicar of Delamere, Cheshire in 1838 and remained there until 1873. He retired in 1873 and returned to the Isle of Wight where he died in 1880.

Custodial history

This collection was purchased from Captain Christopher Pearce, a descendant of the Fox family and resident of Vancouver Island by the Woodward Library in 1970. The collection was transferred from Woodward Memorial Library to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2013.

Scope and content

The collection is comprised of family records of the Darwin Fox family. Most of the collection consists of letters and observations, with a few photographs and newspaper clippings. The dates range between 1821 and 1935. There is a great variety of content and correspondents. The principal correspondents are William Darwin Fox (1805-1880) and his cousin Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882). Others include the Rev. W.D. Fox, Henry Doubleday, William C. Hewitson and Richard Owen. Many of the letters are detailed accounts of supplies the various men have and need in their pursuit of “natural history”. Much of the discussions in the correspondence and the written observations concern insects, birds and eggs. In addition, there is correspondence relating to familial matters between family members.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The files are arranged in batches of letters and correspondence, interspersed with notes and observations. Some letters concern familial affairs, while others concern natural history and research. There are some photographs and newspaper clippings within the collection. The arrangement of the collection was inherited from the transfer from the Woodward Library and has not been rearranged in any way.

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Please note material in this collection will be provided one file at a time.

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RAD compliant Finding Aid prepared by: Kristine Protacio, April 2015.

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Script of description


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