Darwin’s Grandfather, Erasmus Darwin

Bust of Erasmus Darwin on garden wall of Darwin House, Lichfield.

To understand the developmental influences that contributed to Charles Darwin’s arrival at a place that sat outside the Church and resulted in his theory of evolution by natural selection, one needs to go back to his family. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, in particular was no ordinary grandparent. Britain’s foremost poet, a physician and an advocate of evolution…for most grandsons, he would have been a hard act to follow. As part of the research for
Looking for Darwin, I travelled to Lichfield to see Darwin House, Erasmus’s home. Situated next to the famous Lichfield Cathedral, it has a lovely garden. A bust of the corpulent Erasmus looks down from the garden wall.

Religion versus Darwin: a minister scurries past Darwin House, Lichfield.

Erasmus had 14 children and, through his close friendship with Josiah Wedgwood, the Wedgwoods and Darwins engaged in a good deal of intermarriage.
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