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He was born ay Nice, 10th October 1731, eldest son of Lord Charles Cavendish, and a grandson of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire. From a school at hackney he passed in 1749 to Peterhouse Cambridge, but quitted it three years later, without a degree; and thereafter devoted the whole of his life to scientific investigations, having had a large fortune bequeathed him by an uncle. He was a silent solitary man, he had his magnificent library in London, four miles from his residence on Clapham Common, so that he might not encounter persons coming to consult it. His female domestics had orders to keep out of his sight, on pain of dismissal. He died, unmarried, at Clapham 10th March 1810, leaving more than one million pounds, to his relatives.
Cavendish may almost be called the founder of pneumatic chemistry. In 1760 he discovered the extreme levity of inflammable air, now known as hydrogen gas - a discovery which led to balloon experiments; and later he ascertained that water resulted from the union of two gases.
The famous Cavendish Experiment was an ingenious device for estimating the density of the earth. He also wrote on astronomical instruments, and on electrical researches.
The Physics laboratory at Cambridge University was named after him, and was commenced in 1869 as the result of finance from the 7th Duke of Devonshire.
Information submitted by Alan Longbottom
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