Erasmus Darwin

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Erasmus Darwin
BirthplaceElston Hall, Elston, Nottinghamshire near Newark-on-Trent

Darwin, Erasmus,

1731–1802, English physician and poet. During most of his life he practiced medicine in Lichfield and cultivated a botanical garden. He was a prominent member of the Lichfield literary group, which included Anna SewardSeward, Anna
, 1742–1809, English poet, called the Swan of Lichfield. A member of the Lichfield literary group, which included Thomas Day and Erasmus Darwin, she was acquainted also with Dr. Johnson and James Boswell.
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 and Thomas DayDay, Thomas,
1748–89, English social reformer and author. He supported the American Revolution and the abolition of slavery and was interested in improving the lot of the small farmer. His moralistic History of Sandford and Merton (3 vol.
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. In a long poem, The Botanic Garden (1789–91), Darwin expounded the botanical system of LinnaeusLinnaeus, Carolus
, 1707–78, Swedish botanist and taxonomist, considered the founder of the binomial system of nomenclature and the originator of modern scientific classification of plants and animals. He studied botany and medicine and taught both at Uppsala.
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. His Zoonomia (1794–96), explaining organic life according to evolutionary principles, anticipates later theories. He was the grandfather of Charles DarwinDarwin, Charles Robert,
1809–82, English naturalist, b. Shrewsbury; grandson of Erasmus Darwin and of Josiah Wedgwood. He firmly established the theory of organic evolution known as Darwinism.
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 and of Francis GaltonGalton, Sir Francis
, 1822–1911, English scientist, founder of eugenics; cousin of Charles Darwin. He turned from exploration and meteorology (where he introduced the theory of the anticyclone) to the study of heredity and eugenics (a term that he coined).
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See biographies by D. King-Hele (1964) and P. Fara (2012).

Darwin, Erasmus


Born Dec. 12, 1731, in Elton; died Apr. 18, 1802, in Derby. English physician, naturalist, and poet. Grandfather of C. Darwin.

In Zoonomia (1794–96), Darwin developed a theory in natural philosophy concerning the evolution of organisms. According to Darwin, embryos originate in the form of very thin fibrils that separate from the nerve endings in the body of the father and enter the ovum during fertilization. This process is the same for all animals, which, Darwin suggested, originated from the mixture of several “natural orders”; under the influence of the external environment, the use and nonuse of organs, and other causes, animals develop and change. In the narrative poems entitled The Botanic Garden (1789–92) and The Temple of Nature (1803; Russian translation, 1911) Darwin set forth his views of natural science in poetical form; philosophically, he was a deist.


Krause, E. Erasmus Darwin und seine Stellung in der Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie mit seinem Lebens- und Charakterbilde von Ch. Darwin. Leipzig, 1880.
Darwin, C. “Zhizn’ Erazma Darvina.” Soch.. vol. 9. Moscow, 1959. Pages 250–306.
References in periodicals archive ?
He married Frances Violetta, a daughter of Erasmus Darwin, and was the father of Francis Galton, who was born in Birmingham.
Erasmus Darwin, who lived in Lichfield, was a physician and leading figure in the British Enlightenment period and member of the Lunar Society along with industrialist Matthew Boulton and scientist James Watt.
See also: Erasmus Darwin House, Beacon Street, Lichfield, WS13 7AD.
The group was taken to the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Erasmus Darwin House and Lichfield Cathedral.
It contains hundreds of letters to and from the great thinkers of the day, including Erasmus Darwin, Josiah Wedgwood, Thomas Telford, Elizabeth Montagu and Benjamin Franklin.
At Erasmus Darwin House there'll be speakeasy cocktails, a yesteryear hair salon, memorabilia and vintage 'wedding corner'.
Another public art project the company was involved with was the creation of a stainless steel statue in Lichfield to commemorate Erasmus Darwin, a renowned scholar and grandfather of Charles Darwin.
Venues include the 17th century Dr Milley's Hospital on Beacon Street; Erasmus Darwin House; Lichfield Heritage Centre and Lichfield Record Office in Lichfield Library.
The Lunar Society was established in the 18th century by leading Birmingham industrialists, intellectuals and inventors, including Matthew Boulton and Erasmus Darwin, to discuss the scientific and political issues of the day.
There is a lot of talk with friends like William Small and Erasmus Darwin about experimenting and dealing with new illnesses.
A mixture of doctors, philosophers and manufacturers, they included Erasmus Darwin, potter Josiah Wedgwood and the chemist Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen.