The Original Back-Packer?

Like many a young person today – Charles Darwin was undecided about what he wanted to do with his life. After studying medicine at Edinburgh University (during which time he seemed to have attended more lectures on geology than the subject he was meant to be studying!) he left to go to Cambridge University to study for the clergy.

Returning to Shrewsbury he still had no real idea about the direction he should take, Captain Fitzroy from HMS Beagle wrote to him, inviting him as his companion to keep him company on a long voyage going to South America. The prospect of delaying any decision concerning his future and travelling to foreign climes was too tempting and Darwin immediately applied for the post.

However, when he told his father what he was going to do, his father had other ideas and wanted his son to settle down and get a ‘proper job’ (nothing changes!!) so Charles being a dutiful son felt obliged to withdraw his application.

However his father was eventually persuaded by his brother-in-law Josiah Wedgewood, to relent and let Charles go on his travels. Having already withdrawn his application Charles Darwin had to dash from Shrewsbury to see the Captain. Setting off from the Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury, a combination of good luck and circumstance enabled Darwin to take up the position of Captain’s companion and the rest, as they say, is history.