On the Supposed Increasing Prevalence of Dark Hair in England.

The Anthropological Review, elokuu 1863

By John Beddoe, M. D., F.A.S.L., &c.
Foreign Associate of the Anthropological Society of Paris.

*) E. G. of Mrs. Somerville, Physical Geography

**) Dr. Bird, of Swansea, informs me that the chapel of the Anglo-Norman garrison at Brecon was anciently known as "the chapel of the red-haired." This is a rather striking fact, as red hair is not uncommon among the South Welsh themselves at the present day.
It is the opition of some scientific,* and of many unscientific observers, that light hair is gradually becoming less common in England that it used to be; and, while some confine the bearing of this statement within the limits of their own lifetime and observation, others extend it to previous centuries, attaching great importance to the terms in which our Saxon, Danish, and Norman** ancestors are described as having red, yellow, or other light shades of hair.

I do not wish to discuss, in the present article, the question whether this opinion has any foundation in fact. Some light might be thrown upon it by a careful examination of the national and other portrait galleries; and I incline to think that the portraits of the worthies of the sixteenth century would lend some little support to the notion. I merely wish to point out that if the fact be so, or so far as it is so, it may be accounted for by other causes than those which have usually been assigned to it. In the first place, the large towns, and other more civilized and populous parts of England, have some time past been receiving constant streams of immigrants from Ireland, Wales, Damnonia, the Highlands, and other Celtic districts, in which dark hair abounds. In the second, I am disposed to think that the xanthous temperament, though probably better adapted to the climate of these islands than the melanous, is less able to endure some of the anti-hygienic agencies which operate on the crowded populations of our great towns; and that thus the law of natural selection operates agains its multiplication. And, in the third place, as a large minority of women live and die unmarried and without offspring, it is probable that the physical qualities of the race may be to some small extent moulded by the action of conjucal as well as of natural selection. In order to test the tendency of this hypothetical influence, I have extracted from my note-books particulars of the social condition (viz., whether married or single), and of the colour of the hair, of 737 women, aged between twenty and fifty, who came under my observation at the Bristol Royal Finfirmary: these I have thrown into the form of a table, which will, I hope, be sufficiently intelligible.

Social condition. | Colour of Hair. | Total Number. | Per Cent.

*) Including widows.
**) These were persons who described themselves by their occupation only; they were probably for the most part either single women or widows.

Red 22 | Fair 52.5 | Brown 145 | Dk. Brown 234,5 | Black 26 | Total number 480 | Per Cent. 65

Red 10 | Fair 85 | Brown 73,5 | Dk. Brown 73,5 | Black 6 | Total number 198 | Per Cent. 27

Red 1 | Fair 7 | Brown 21,5 | Dk. Brown 28,5 | Black 1 | Total number 59 | Per Cent. 8

Red 33 | Fair 94.5 | Brown 240 | Dk. Brown 336,5 | Black 33 | Total number 737 | Per Cent. 100

The indications of the above table may be rendered more clear by the following one, in which I have assumed the number under each colour to be 100, and have reduced to percentages the different conditions in each class.

Social condition. | Colour of Hair.

Red 67 | Fair 55,5 | Brown 60,5 | Dk. Brown 69,5 | Black 79

Red 30 | Fair 37 | Brown 30,5 | Dk. Brown 22 | Black 19

Red 3 | Fair 7,5 | Brown 9 | Dk. Brown 8,5 | Black 3

Red 100 | Fair 100 | Brown 100 | Dk. Brown 100 | Black 100

Lastly, still further to simplify the matter, we may throw together the red, fair, and brown classes under the head of "blonde," and the dark-brown and black under that of "dark," of which two the former will include 367 women, and the latter 369. The results will be as follows:

Social Condition | Blonde | Dark

Blonde number 219,5 : Blonde Per Cent 60 | Dark number 260,5 : Dark Per Cent 70,5

Blonde number 118,5 : Blonde Per Cent 32 | Dark number 79,5 : Dark Per Cent 21,5

Blonde number 29,5 : Blonde Per Cent 8 | Dark number 29,5 : Dark Per Cent 8

Blonde number 367,5 : Blonde Per Cent 100 | Dark number 369,5 : Dark Per Cent 100

* In some young women the hue of the hair continues to darken after they have operpassed the twentieth year, though in others it attains its maximum of darkness within a very few years after puberty. I mention this fact because it may, and probably dies, account for a part of the difference between the proportions of the married in the several classes.The deduction I should make from these figures is, that, whether because the mass of the population does not sympathise with the preference which artists and poets have always manifested in favour of fair hair, or from some other cause, fewer of light-haired women than of dark-haired get married in this part of England.* Then if during several generations this sould continue to be the case, is it not probable that the relative proportion of the favoured colour would considerably increase, in accordance with the laws of hereditary influence?

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