Erasmus Darwin - English physician  scientist and philosopherErasmus Darwin
English physician, scientist and philosopher


Erasmus Darwin 1731-1802

Erasmus Darwin was a successful physician noted for his radical views on almost everything but especially on biology where his speculations about the nature of evolution were similar to those of J.B Lamarck, believing that species modified themselves by adapting to their environment in a purposeful way.

Darwin was born in 1737 at Elston Hall in Nottinghamshire. Educated at Cambridge and Edinburgh, he opened a successful medical practise at Litchfield and turned down an offer from George III to become his personal physician in London, preferring to move to Derby which he used as a base for his extensive travels. While in Litchfield, he made the acquaintance of many distinquished men, among them Joseph Priestley, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Samuel Johnson.

Darwin was a co-founder of the Lunar Society, an informal intellectual group, along with John Whitehurst, the Derby clock maker and scientist, Joshuia Wedgewood, James Watts and others. Later he formed the Derby Philisophical Society which became a rather more formal off shoot of the Lunar group and closer to home.

He had a fertile imagination and a profound grasping of fundamental principles concerning almost all scientific disciplines.

Darwin proponded a great number of ideas concerning air travel, Wells, lifts, copying machines, educational improvements, oil drilling, sub marines and many more.

He often wrote his opinins and scientific treatises in verse, the most notable of which are 'The Botanic Garden' and 'The Temple of Nature or the Origin of Society'. His other major works included 'A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools' and Phytologia or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening'.

Darwin was married twice, lived in Full Street, Derby for a time before moving to Breadsall Priory where he died in 1802.

His grandsons were, Charles Darwin, naturalist and noted for his Origin of Species and the biologist Francis Galton.

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portrait of Erasmus Darwin by Joseph Wright
Erasmus Darwin

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