Charles Darwin was an English born naturalist and geologist. He is best known for developing the theory of evolution. His book, ‘On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection’ was published in 1859 following a five year voyage around the world. The voyage, which began in December 1831, was an expedition to survey and chart the coastline of South America and other areas of the world.
Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England on February 12th 1809. He was educated at Anglican Shrewsbury School. At the age of sixteen in 1825 Darwin entered the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. Two years later he transferred to Christ’s College Cambridge where he studied natural history. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1831.
Darwin’s botany professor at Cambridge recommended him for the position of naturalist on board HMS Beagle. The voyage gave Darwin the opportunity to carry out observations and to collect a variety of natural specimens. He was particularly fascinated by what he found on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. On return to England he began to write up his findings which eventually led him to publish ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’.
Samuel Haughton, the Carlow born professor at Trinity College Dublin, was the first person to comment on Darwin’s theories. At a meeting of the Geological Society of Dublin on February 9th 1859 he made a brief attack on the theories. Darwin later referred to Haughton’s observations in his autobiography saying ‘all that was new in them was false, and what was true was old’. Darwin’s book sold out rapidly but it took a long time before his theories became generally accepted. Darwin continued his research until his death, at the age of 73, on April 19th 1882. His theories cause controversy to this day.
Charles Darwin departed from Southampton aboard HMS Beagle in the year 1831 On This Day.