The Chesterfield link to the family that ‘changed the world’


There’s a strong Chesterfield link to the famous expedition that led to Darwin’s theory of evolution, as Barrie Farnsworth reports.

ON MAY 11 this year, it was 200 years since the launch of the ship, HMS Beagle, that ferried Charles Darwin around the world, with the naturalist’s findings on that voyage leading to his then revolutionary theories on evolution and natural selection. What is less well known is that Charles’ grandfathers were also two of the most prominent men of their era – and one of them was educated at Chesterfield Grammar School. He was Erasmus Darwin (1731 – 1802), a multi-talented man who was a physician, philosopher, physiologist, slavetrade abolitionist, inventor and poet. He was also a founding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a dinner club of pioneering industrialists and philosophers who met regularly between 1765 and 1813… a club whose members, according to many historians, “changed the world”.