Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

charles darwin

Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who realised that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his book On the Origin of Species.

The Darwins had ten children; two of which died in infancy and Annie's death at the age of ten that had a devastating effect on her parents. Charles was a devoted father and uncommonly attentive to his children. Whenever they fell ill he feared that they might have inherited weaknesses from inbreeding due to the close family ties he shared with his wife and cousin, Emma Wedgwood. He examined this topic in his writings, contrasting it with the advantages of crossing amongst many organisms. Despite his fears, most of the surviving children went on to have distinguished careers as notable members of the prominent Darwin-Wedgwood family.

In recognition of Charles Darwin's pre-eminence as a scientist, he was one of only five 19th-century UK non-royal people to be honored by a state funeral and was buried in Westminster Abbey.