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William Darwin Fox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Reverend William Darwin Fox (1805-1880) was an English clergyman, naturalist and a 2nd cousin of Charles Robert Darwin.

Fox was the son of Samuel Fox (1765-1851), and Ann Darwin (1777-1859), the daughter of William Alvey Darwin (1726-1783) and Jane Brown (1746-1835), and niece of Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802).
William Darwin Fox

Like Charles Darwin, Fox prepared for the clergy at Cambridge University. He was also a naturalist and entomologist, particularly collecting beetles. At Cambridge, Fox and Darwin became friends, and Fox tutored his younger cousin on natural history. Darwin noted in his autobiography:

I was introduced to entomology by my second cousin W. Darwin Fox, a clever and most pleasant man, who was then at Christ's College, and with whom I became extremely intimate.
It was also Fox who introduced Darwin to John Stevens Henslow who held a weekly open house which undergraduates and and some older members of the University, who were attached to science attended in the evenings.

Fox graduated from Cambridge in the winter of 1829 and shortly thereafter became the Vicar of Osmaston. He had been born and initially raised at Thurleston Grange and later at Osmaston Hall near Derby. A notice in the London Gazette for Friday April 6th, 1838 states - Whitehall, April 5th,
"The Queen has been pleased to present the Rev. William Darwin Fox, M.A. to the rectory of Delamere in the diocese and county of Chester, ..."
where he remained the incumbent until 1873. He then retired to Sandown on the Isle of Wight, and is buried there.

Throughout his life, Fox remained in regular contact with Charles Darwin, and many of the letters exchanged contained comments relating to Charles Darwin's work as well as family matters.

Fox married twice and had seventeen children. His first wife was Harriet Fletcher, (17991842), daughter of Sir Richard Fletcher whom he married in 1834 and they issued - stillborn girl, 1834, Eliza Ann (Sanders),1836 - 1874; Harriet Emma (Overton), 1837 - ; Agnes Jane, 1839 - ; Julia Mary Anne (Woods), 1840 - ; Samuel William Darwin, 1841 - .

His second wife was Ellen Sophia (18201887), daughter of Basil George Woodd of Hillfield, Hampstead and they were married in 1846. They issued - Charles Woodd, 1847 - ; Frances Maria (Pearce) 1848 - 1921, Robert Gerard, 1849 - ; Louisa Mary, 1850 - 1853; Ellen Elizabeth (Baron Dickinson Webster - 1st cousins once removed), 1852 - ; Theodora, 1853 - 1878; Gertrude Mary (Bosanquet), 1854 - ; Frederick William, 1855 - ; Edith Darwin, 1857 - ; Erasmus Pullien, 1858 - ; Reginald Henry, 1860 - ; Gilbert Basil, 1864 - .

Osmaston Hall was located about 2 miles (3.2km) south of Derby city, and Charles Darwin spent three weeks there with his cousin Fox in the summer of 1828.  The Hall and its associated 4,000 acre (1,600 hectare) estate was sold to the Wilmot-Horten family following the death of Fox's father and subsequently to the Midland Railway in 1888. In 1938 the Hall was demolished and the area is now industrial, more noted for the manufacture of Rolls Royce turbo-fan engines.

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Authors: Duncan Harris, Barry Carlson.

page revised 12:45 a.m. 15/10/2005