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The Correspondence of John Stevens Henslow

John Stevens Henslow (1796–1861) spent his adult life attached to the University of Cambridge. He graduated in mathematics in 1818, then acted as a demonstrator for the Professor of Chemistry, carried out and published papers on field geology, and was a founder of the Cambridge Philosophical Society in 1821. He held two University Chairs: Mineralogy from 1823–27, and Botany from 1825 until his death in 1861.

Henslow was closely involved in University affairs and the introduction of science into the Cambridge Tripos. He was a gifted teacher and pedagogic innovator. His best-known student was Charles Darwin, with whom he maintained a life-long friendship and correspondence. Henslow also acted as the (unofficial) agent for Lord Palmerston, one of the University’s two MPs, in the election of 1826.

In 1823 Henslow was ordained and became curate of Little St Mary’s. He was awarded the living of Cholsey in 1835, and became Rector of Hitcham, near Stowmarket in Suffolk, in 1837. Henslow moved to Hitcham, but continued giving his botany course at Cambridge in May every year until his death. During this time, he attempted to introduce science into agriculture nationally and locally, whilst also taking steps to improve the lives of agricultural labourers. Universal education was a constant concern for him, through the University of London, the Department of Science and Art, regional museums, and his parish school.

Henslow had a network of correspondents across all levels of society, nearly 300 in these surviving letters. The letters he retained until his death are mostly held in the Cambridge University Library, but others have been dispersed around the world. Letters between Henslow and Darwin were published in 1967 (by Nora Barlow) and also in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (from 1985 onwards).

The Henslow letters have been collected and transcribed by M. E. Edmunds, K. H. Joice, A. L. Jones, D. Kohn, J. G. Murrell and J. S. Parker.

Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
J. H. Balfour
Date:
Undated
Source of text:
Library, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 98
Summary:

Thanks Balfour for receipt of a package of Scottish plants. Sends a few specimens and asks for a complete list of required plants.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
J. S. Henslow
Date:
Undated
Source of text:
Cambridge University Library MS Add. 8176: 164
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
William Swainson
Date:
Undated
Source of text:
National Library of Scotland Fonds MSS 577-600/Item No. 715
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Editor Geological Society
Date:
31 May 1821
Source of text:
British Library Add. 42580: 134
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Leonard Jenyns
Date:
December 1822
Source of text:
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Jenyns Collection Letter 1006
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Leonard Jenyns
Date:
7 January 1823
Source of text:
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Jenyns Collection Letter 1007
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Leonard Jenyns
Date:
2 April 1823
Source of text:
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Jenyns Collection Letter 1008
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Leonard Jenyns
Date:
8 April 1823
Source of text:
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Jenyns Collection Letter 1009
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
N. J. Winch
Date:
21 October 1823
Source of text:
Linnean Society Library Winch Letters W5:068
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Unknown
Date:
13 July 1825
Source of text:
American Philosophical Society Library Mss.B.H382
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
N. J. Winch
Date:
9 December 1825
Source of text:
Linnean Society Library Winch Letters W5: 220
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
William Wilson
Date:
20 May 1826
Source of text:
Warrington Library Archive Wilson Letters H-O Ms 53
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
N. J. Winch
Date:
30 June 1826
Source of text:
Linnean Society Library Winch Letters W5.250
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
William Henry Fox Talbot
Date:
August 1826
Source of text:
British Library 88942/2/67
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
N. J. Winch
Date:
25 September 1826
Source of text:
Linnean Society Library Winch Letters W5.261
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Leonard Jenyns
Date:
4 October 1826
Source of text:
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Jenyns Collection Letter 3021
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
William Baxter
Date:
6 December 1826
Source of text:
Oxford University Herbarium
Summary:

Enquires about purchasing a copy of Baxter’s Stirpes Cryptogamae Oxoniensis and offers to send species local to Cambridge in return.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
William Wilson
Date:
17 April 1827
Source of text:
Warrington Library Archive Wilson Letters H-O Ms 53
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
N. J. Winch
Date:
21 April 1827
Source of text:
Linnean Society Library Winch Letters W6.023
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
J. S. Henslow
To:
Leonard Jenyns
Date:
1 September 1827
Source of text:
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Jenyns Collection Letter 1010
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Henslow Correspondence Project