Jenyns brother-in-law, Henslow, finished writing up his notes on the
Blue Pimpernel showing that was only a variety of the Scarlet
Pimpernel. This he proved by growing seeds sent by the Rev.E.Wilson
from Yorkshire, nine of which had blue flowers and were "notched or
toothed at the margin", the other three were red. His notes were sent
to the Magazine of Natural History probably with Jenyns' article on
"Some Remarks upon the late Winter of 1829 - 30". The two papers were
published as ART.XI and ART.XII in that magazine in 1830.
A person in the village of Bottisham found a very large caterpiller of
the Death's-Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos) in a potato field "we
had the curiosity to weigh it, and found its weight no less than four
drachms and forty-two grains. These caterpillers have become not
unfrequent of late years in this neighbourhood, from the extent to
which potatoes are now cultivated; but I never knew but one or two
instances of the occurance of the perfect insect".
In the morning the gamekeeper at Bottisham killed a Hobby (Falco
subbuteo) "a species that has only occured once before in that
district". Jenyns took the chance to describe it:
White throat - with a broad black band or moustache extending from the
angle of the lower mandible on each side of the neck: upper parts
dusky ash; under parts white, with large oblong black spots disposed
longitudinaly; thighs & under tail-covers of a bright rust red; feet
orange-yellow, bill bluish lead colour: cere & eyelids yellow.
Length somewhat more than one foot, breadth two feet five and a half
inches. Second primary the longest; first primary notched on the inner
Godfrey Howitt wrote from Nottingham as a reply to Jenyns' visit of
August 27th sending on "as many of the plants contained in your list"
as well as a box for Jenyns to send back with insects of
Cambridgeshire. He would have sent some from Nottingham but Jenyns had
said that he only collected those from his own county. Howitt also
offered bulbs of Crocus vernus& nudiflorus and Tulipa sylvestris "for
the Cambridge Botanical Garden, it will be a source of pleasure to
collect and send them. If I can at any time further any of your views,
or give you any assistance connected with the Natural History of this
part [of the ] county, I shall always be honoured by the application"
One of Jenyns' brothers (George or Charles) was out shooting at
Alington hill. His dog made a point, it had found a Great Plover or
Stone Curlew (Oedicnemus crepitans, Temm.) and was able to capture it
alive "It proved to be a young of the year, which had probably been
bread in the neighbourhood. After it was killed we opened it, and
found the stomach to contain gravels mixed with the half-digested
remains of coleopterous insects, amongst which the legs and elytra of
some of the larger carabidae were very conspicuous. Its internal canal
was two foot two and a half inches long. These birds are not very
uncommon about here some seasons; and in spring I occasionally hear
their shrill startling cry, as they pass over the village late in the
evening. The earliest period I have known them to occur is the 3rd of
April". In the 1830 M.S.notes he called this bird "The thick-knee'd
Bustard" but had been renamed in his book of 1846.
A Spotted Water Rail (Gallinula porzana) was brought to Jenyns, it had
been killed at Bottisham Fen. He measured its length as 8 1/2 inches,
its bill - 9 lines, tarsus 1inch 6 lines, "Upper parts olive brown, with
all the feathers black in the middle &varigated with fine streaks&
spots of white".
Little is said about Jenyns' sister Harriet but Darwin writing to
W.D.Fox says "I have not seen Prof Henslow, but am going to a Party
there to night; you have not told me half enough what you think about
Mrs Henslow She is a devilish odd woman. I am always frightened
whenever I speak to her, & yet I cannot help liking her". It is
possible that Jenyns had the same effect on Darwin.
He recorded the air temperature and his barometer at 9 o'clock as was
his habit, they said 62.5degrees and 30.00. It turned out to be "extremely
fine thro'out the day: a cloudless day" by the middle of the day the
temperature was 72degrees with a gentle breeze from the S.W.
Another very fine day but cloudy at night. The Ash tree was now
"nearly stript of its leaves".
His morning recording was late at 10 o'clock, 52degrees and 29.95 with
almost no wind from the S.W.. The morning was wet but the afternoon
was fine, he noticed "large flocks of wild geese seen" but he made no
evening weather recording at 8.30 pm and may have been unwell.
Charles Darwin replying to W.D.Fox asked "Do you in one of your
letters call Mr.G.Jenyns a good or grand fellow? I am curious to
know". This refers to George Leonard Jenyns the father of Leonard
Jenyns. George was a magistrate, Cannon of Ely Cathedral and gentleman
farmer who enjoyed hunting and shooting.
George Vachell in Canton wrote his ninth letter to Jenyns, in return
he had received two from Jenyns and would like to have received more
and "it leads me to imagine that you do not take that interest in a
Trans-Atlantic Correspondence, which I supposed you would have done;
and that I have endeavoured to meet your wishes, as well as Prof.
Henslow's in forwarding to England whatever I thought would prove most
acceptable to you both".
Vachell was prepairing a Hortus siccus for
Jenyns without knowing if the plants sent by "The Bridgwater" ever
arrived. He also sent a list of the contents of a case sent in the
"Cumming" with this letter in which were packed the Hortus siccus as
well as various specimens preserved in spirit and sent it to the East
India Dock with a bill of lading to be forwarded on to Mr Hibbert of
187 Strand who was to advise Jenyns of their arrival.
Jenyns needed to get a Treasury Order to allow the cases through Customs without inspection or if this wasn't possible to apply to, from his professing some knowledge of Natural History, Mr Wheeler Gibson, Custom House Broker, and General Agent No 31 St Dunstan's Hill, London. The cases were addressd to Henslow so that they go down from London to Cambridge at once.
They had a beautiful specimen of the horn of the Unicorn Narwhal
presented to our Museum" it was 7ft 11 inches long and eight inches
in circumference at the thickest part and he had been trying very had
to get Jenyns one of the two specimens of the "Seychelle" or Double
Cocoa nut" which came to China and is only found in a group of islands
a little to the N.E. of Madagascar, The French Consul M.Genairt
obtained one, it being a French ship that brought them to China, which
he kindly gave to The "British Museum in China" but I do not yet
despair of getting the other for Cambridge". Vachell was in
the dark as to which museum at Cambridge he was sending to "are there
any beside the Fitzwilliam and the one where I accompanied you to
see a beautiful collection of ornithology in the rooms of the
Camb. Phil. Socy".
Vachell's plant collection contained both duplicates and triplicates
intending them for Jenyns and Henslow's private collections
"independent of any Public Institution being destined to receive the
remainder". He claimed to "only have a slight knowledge of Botany, and
only take the "Will for the dud" if I have taken considerable pains to
collect a quantity of rubbish for you".
Vachell sent with this letter a list of articles for the Cambridge
Philosophical Society and the seeds in jars for "your new Cambridge
Botanical Garden and in this he was carrying out Jenyns' wish in
a previous letter that his "small contributions might be placed in a
public, rather than a private collection".
It seems that Vachell had business with Jenyns' father for he had sent
him a 22 lbs case of "the fine Lapshing Souchong Tea" via the ship
"The London" to the East India Dock and he hoped it would arrive in
England in time for the June sales at the India House. He also sent
six paintings on the "Ficus Religsoda" for Jenyns' sister Harriet
"I much wished for you yesterday in a long walk I took in the suburbs
of Canton, with an Officer of the Canning; having procured a cleaver
fellow, to act as guide and interpreter, we set out, and went far
beyond our usual limits, without molestation - on the contrary from
the men in the various shops and workshops we entered to see the
process of manufacturing different articles, we experienced the
greatest civility; and as the holiday time of the Chinese New Year
is approaching, the artisans were in full work.
The Chinese are
certainly a very industrious race, and the more I see of them, the
more I am convinced of the truth of the observation made ... before
the "Commons" committee on the East India & China trade "that the
Chinese are a highly intellegent people, remarkable for their industry
and perserverence, but I think they are oppressed with one of the most
corrupt Governments that ever weighed down the energies of a people".
In the course of our walk we saw the
operation of glass blowing, cotton carding, (with an instrument like a
strung bow) for the stuffing counterpanes &c; The operation of making
bangles for ladies ornaments; the preparation of the Birds Nests for
the table is also a curious scene; in the street called "Doctors St"
this business is carried on in nearly every shop,&the nest from the
state in which it is torn from the side of the cavern, to that in
which those were I sent you, may be seen in all its stages.
trades appear to inhabit separate streets. The Shoemakers, The Cap
Makers, The Bead dealers - all inhabit their respective streets. We
got into the street where the shops are situated where the Wedding
Sedan Chairs are built, they are very large - extremely gaudy and
appear quite a mass of guilding. The "Bride" is carried by 4 Bearers -
... when new they cost from 3 to 500 dollers".
Vachell also saw vast numbers of people employed pencilling the
figures on and painting china ware jars, vases, cups & punch bowls
&c. He also went to the street known to Europeans as Curiosity
Street where the several shops contained "the great variety of
articles of Virtue (suitable more perhaps to Chinese than English
taste) exported for sale generally at enormous prices".
Preserved with this letter is the original list headed "Contents of
Boxes No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 (in one packing case covered with material)
Herbarium (No.5). shipped on board the H.C.L "Canning" at Whampoa,
12. Dec: 1830 Addressed to Revd Prof. Henslow". He sent back such
The Herbarium was sent in Box 5, in a soldered down leaden inner
case consisting of 18 or 19 packages of flowers & plants of the wild
and of cultivation (and grasses) from Macao and Canton and included
The Cotton Plant flowers, Pitcher Plant cups with the seed. He
sent back a fish The Spotted Grouper stuffed and varnished, all the
fins being preserved entire as well as the character of the fish.
Three papers of seed of flowering plants in the Gardens of the British
Factory at Canton, Crataegus, Insminium and Hedysarum Scanders
from the Fautee Gardens and others.
This letter was sent by the "London" on the 14th December 1830 and is
stamped in a maltese cross "L.S. 11AP1831 L.S." and so took four
months to reach England.
At 9 o'clock it was now only 36.5degrees, with a light breeze from the
E.S.E., "a mizzling rain fell all day" and he noticed a Missel Thrush
At 10 o'clock it was 33degrees, the light wind was now in the north and there was "frost in the night with snow & sleet all the forenoon, P.M. fine".
At 11 o'clock it was 36degrees an improvement on the day before when it was
only 27.5degrees. The wind was light from the north-west and the day was
fine but for a slight frost. He spotted some Fieldfares and flocks of
On the 29th it was as low as 32degrees but today it rose to 47degrees at 10
o'clock. A light gale was blowing from the south-west, it had been
blowing from the north previously for many days. This was a confirmed
thaw and the day was changeable. Jenyns sorted out his years
weather records and wrote a summary for the year in this"Journal of
Natural History" in it he says "the summer may be said to have been
unseasonably cold & never settled ... Beginning of December
changeable, the latter part characterized by severe frost wh broke up
the last day of the year".
This year Jenyns started making improved observations in meteorology,
having bought many new instruments to improve his accuracy. A
Rutherford's self-regulating thermometer made by Newman, this he read
at ten am and ten pm, being he thought near the mean of the day and
this was a convenient time for Jenyns. He also recorded the maximum
and minimum temperature and kept up this recording for nineteen years,
never moving the instrument, the only times he missed recording was
when he was away from home or when too sick to leave his bed. He also
recorded the wind direction, to work out mean directions and the mean
temperature of the different winds.
He also placed a Newmans
Barometer having an iron cistern in an apartment on the ground floor
having a north-west aspect. He also bought from Mr Newman a Daniell's
hygrometer of the best construction to be had. With this he made
observations at 10 am nearly every day for a few years but he found it
"ill adapted for constant use, owing to several difficulties in the
management of it" it had a wet and dry bulb. He also made dew point
In botany he started using a small book Synoptical Compendium to the
British Botany arranged after the Linnean System" Originally by John
Galpine, 2nd Edition, 1820. This he used as a "tick list" to his
collection in 1831 by putting an "X" against the plants collected, the
book has 138 pages and contains alot of "x"s but does not give the
location or date collected. This little battered book he probably
carried with him on his walks and still sits on a shelf at Bottisham
Hall (seen 1994).
George Wailes wrote from Newcastle to tell of last years poor
collecting because it had been "so wet and impropitious to naturalists
of every description" so little had been done by the Entomologists,
Conchologists and Botanists though a few new insects to the
neighbourhood had been found by himself and others. In May he had gone
to Cumberland for a few days, "only one day was dry, or rather morning
for a most tremendous storm caught me on Skiddaw and had I been
plunged in the Lake I wd not have been more completely drenched,
however I got a specimen of Leistus moutanus and was satisfied".
Mr Alder in a paper to their Natural History Transactions had
separated out "some species that were confounded under the name of
Helix lucidata & I propose sending you specimens authenticated by
himself together with a few other things I hope will be acquisitious
to your cabinet".
"I hope your part of the country is becoming more settled and that the
decisive steps now taking will convince the infatuated peasantry that
the law is too strong for them. We have had no disturbance here and
the fire that occurred in this vicinity and which went the round of
the newspapers was merely caused by personal revenge against a very
meddlesome and malicious person".
He was going to write to Jenyns and send it with the box and ended the
letter "Wishing you the compliments of the season" Geo. Wailes.
The letter is franked "Matt Bell" but no other mark.
Someone brought Jenyns a Chub (Leucisus cephalus Flem.) from Reche
Lode "but it is not a common fish" it measured 1ft 4inches long "I
chiefly distinguish it from the Roach & Dace by its thick head".
Jenyns had information on local captures of birds "a Kittiwake (Larus
rissa) was killed on Chesterton Common in April 1830 and Mr Henson has
a Great Bustard (Otis staida) taken a week since at Ickleton in this
county & has been preserved for Mr Henson's collection in Sidney
Some female Red-eye or Shallow (Rudd) were caught by the fishermen at Reche Lode "a navigable cut from the Cam near here, where they are particularly abundant" and brought to Jenyns. One of them measured, eight and a half inches long and two and 11/12th lines (inches) in breadth he opened up, it was full of roe "though far from ripe, I have not been able to learn yet the exact time which these fish spawn" but he believed it to occur "about the third or fourth week in April".25th March 1831 (Friday)
Profesor Henslow finished his annual report on the progress of the
"Botanical Museum and Library" and wished to "thank his friends for
their assistance during the last year". Under the heading ofVarious
Specimens.. are the Rev L.Jenyns and C.Darwin, Esq. Many of Jenyns'
friends are listed having given plants and include : W.Peete, Esq.
(Kent). C.C.Babington, Esq. (Wales). Dr.Hooker, (Gt.Britain&
Ireland). Rev.R.T.Lowe (Madeira). Rev G.Vachell (China). and
H.Vachell, Esq. (Van Diemen's-Land. Under fruits, Fungi,&c. C.Darwin
gave Phallus impudicus & caninus (in sprits).
"The fact of Jackdaws building in chimneys seems to be almost peculiar
to Cambridgeshire. They prove a great nuissance about us in this
respect, often bringing together such a quantity of sticks as to stop
up the chimney pot, neither do they appear to mind the smoke. They
having lately attempted to build in the chimney of a room in which is
kept a pretty regular fire, from the quantity of horse dung which
falls down the chimney, it would seem that they make use of this
material, perhaps for lining their nests...Whilst engaged in
constructing their nests, they occasionally fall into the rooms below;
and I have more than once been favoured with a visitor of this kind in
my bed-room, in the early part of the morning".
In the morning Jenyns was walking across Bottisham Park with a friend
when they noticed a "bright green line that extended across it", this
turned out to be the more luxuriant growth of grass than elsewhere on
the sides of a "sheep path, owing, apparently to the additional
quantity of manure which it received from the sheep constantly passing
and repassing by that track".
He found the nest of a "long-tailed titmouse" about five foot up a red
cedar it's curious shape was "about the size of a smallish melon, with
a small hole in the side, through which the parent bird enters;
constructed chiefly of mosses, wool, and dry grass, having the outside
beautifully studded with lichens, and the inside thickly lined with a
profusion of down and soft feathers. The nest contained ten eggs,
about the size of a small bean, of a white colour, thinly sprinkled
with rusty dots at the larger end".
From Darwin's letters to Caroline Darwin we learn that it was election
time at Cambridge and that "Henslow is Lord Palmerston's right-hand
man and he has no time for walks". Jenyns later wrote "Professor
Henslow was originally a Conservative and a supporter of Lord
Palmerston, who, for many years, was one of the members for the
University. When Lord Palmerston changed his politics on the going out
of the Wellington administration, after the accession of William IV.,
and joined the new reform ministry, [in 1828] Professor Henslow
changed with him". In the 1831 election, Palmerston lost his seat
because of his support for Parliamentary reform it being won by the
Right Hon. H.Coulburn and William Yates Peel (Tory).
It was some time since George Wailes had last written to Jenyns from
13 Mosley Street, Newcastle and was apologetic for not having sent
the shells for Jenyns's collection and eggs for the Philosophical
Society and he had now looked out his duplicate insects though it was
not, as Jenyns had mentioned in his last letter the "ill success in
entomology last year" that had prevented him sending them but he had
been "so much engaged in one thing and another". He also sent a box of
shells "indebted to Mr Alder and I send you a copy of his observations
there". Alder wanted to know more of the genus Cyclas and had asked
Wailes also sent Sea Fowl eggs for the Museum and some
insects for W.D.Fox of Cambridge "whom I presume you know" and asked
for a specimen of the beetle that he had discovered (C.cerealis).
"Our Natural History Soc. succeeded wonderfully, we have two enormous
rooms 40 feet long quite full and still want more space. We expect to
raise a large building this Autumn. The 1st Vol of its Transactions is
nearly thro' the press and about 50 pages of the second is printed. It
will contain our Flora and the Birds by Mr Selby are in the d part
of the 1st Vol."
If you want more of this let me know!