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Darwin, Walter Scott and Roy Rodgers

It is 1826 and 16 year-old Charles Darwin, studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh along with his elder brother, Erasmus, is bored with the variable quality of the lectures and nauseated by the dissection of human bodies.  Influenced by the enthusiasm of one of his professors, Robert Grant, for sea sponges, Charles develops a keen interest in marine invertebrates.  For two years he all but abandons his father’s desire for him to follow in the family footsteps to become a doctor and forms an ever-deepening understanding of zoology.  He found many specimens to study on his regular sojourns from Newhaven to explore the inshore waters from Cramond to Prestonpans.  The Newhaven fishermen he befriended would patiently row him back and forth with bemusement until he declared himself satisfied — or too seasick to continue.  Once he had followed his elder brother to Cambridge to continue his studies, his zoological interests moved onto to insects.  Yet it was experiences off the shores of Newhaven that stimulated Darwin to become the great scientist he was to become.

However, Newhaven has its place in history in connection with a number of other famous people.  Newhaven was well known to Sir Walter Scott who had as a character in his 1816 novel “The Antiquary”, Mrs Maggie Mucklebackit, with her couthie wisdom and based on his experience of Newhaven fish wives.  It was into Newhaven that his ship sailed on Scott’s final journey in 1832 returning from the Continent to Abbotsford to die having travelled abroad in the hope that it would provide a therapeutic benefit to what was a terminal decline.

And to this eclectic mix can be added Hollywood’s “King of the Cowboys”, Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans.  Roy and Dale came to Britain to do some shows and to give their Christian witness at Billy Graham's "London Crusade". While they were there, they visited an orphanage at the top of Craighall Road. They heard this voice that sounded like an angel. The voice was that of an 11 year old little girl named Marion Fleming.  They invited Marion to come see their show and sit on Trigger the next day.  She went, and Roy and Dale invited her back to their hotel suite for lunch.

Marion had been an orphan of divorce, although her parents were still alive. She'd been in the orphanage since she was two years old.  Roy and Dale thought of bringing her to America.....just for a visit.  They knew they couldn't adopt her because she was a British subject. Besides, her father had legal custody of her and wouldn't consent to it. Roy and Dale planned a summer goodwill tour, to let her see Hollywood; plus experience a family in an American home.

Arrangements were made with the British authorities and she came.  She blended right in with the Rogers' big family. Time came too soon for her to go back to Britain and she tearfully protested that she didn't want to leave. They arranged for her to stay until after Christmas.  She then begged to stay throughout the school year.

Summer came, and Marion stayed on.  Finally, Marion became Roy and Dale's ward, a permanent member the of the Rogers "international family"!!

If you have contributions to make to the knowledge base and photographic archives on any of the topics on this page, they would be most welcome.

Please contact




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