- Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) was born in Shrewsbury, England, where he attended school. His grades were far from distinguished. His father was disgusted and reproved him: "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family." Young Darwin was then sent to Edinburgh to study medicine. This he refused to do because he didn't like the subject. Next he was sent to Cambridge to prepare for the ministry, but Darwin ignored his ministerial studies because of his interest in natural history. In 1831, the Royal Navy's H.M.S. Beagle was about to sail on a scientific voyage. Darwin signed on for this five-year trip so that he might have an excellent firsthand opportunity to make geological observations. Darwin's interest in evolution came later, after he had found fossils that sparked an interest in that subject. Darwin wrote about his experiences on the voyage shortly after arriving home, but his revolutionary work The Origin of Species by Natural Selection was not published until November 24, 1859. The book sold out immediately and created quite a furor in theological quarters. It represented a blow to religious opinions, because it replaced belief in the divine creation of species by a natural selection of viable variations and implied that man was not unique but similar to other animals, a theory known as Darwinism.Theologians defended themselves by vociferous condemnations of Darwin's theses. But the Church of England has never attacked Darwinism— evolution by natural selection—or, as Herbert Spencer called it, "survival of the fittest."Darwin's most avid defender was the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who coined the word agnostic and who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog," for he willingly took on anyone who spoke deprecatingly about evolution. He once told Darwin, "Get on with your work, and leave the wrestling to me."During Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, he was bitten by a large bug that causes Chagas's disease. He became a semi-invalid and lived in constant pain. Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.