TUC misled about Darwin's dad

September 22, 1995

Did David Triesman really tell the TUC conference that Darwin's father scraped a living as a poor country GP? If so he really should take more care to check his facts.

Far from being a poor GP, Dr Robert Darwin was a fashionable physician and astute businessman in Shrewsbury.

The major part of his income came not from his medical practice, but from mortgages and investments in property, land and canals.

Dr Darwin was considered to be the most significant financier in the region. With this substantial income Dr Darwin provided Charles with a generous allowance during his five years at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge and then paid all the substantial expenses of his five-year voyage in the Beagle.

As Janet Browne tells us in her biography of Charles Darwin, it was said of Dr Darwin that he owned three quarters of Shrewsbury and knew the medical secrets of the rest. Not at all the sort of person to bring to the attention of the TUC.

Len Hill Chairman Department of animal and plant sciences University of Sheffield

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