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Henry Cavendish

A picture of Henry Cavendish

About Henry Cavendish

Natural philosopher

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

Other famous people alive at the time of Henry Cavendish

Sir Joseph BanksBorn 13th February 1743, died 19th June 1820 aged 77
Thomas BewickBorn August 1753, died 8th November 1828 aged 75
William BlakeBorn 28th November 1757, died 12th August 1827 aged 69
Capability BrownBorn 1716, died 6th February 1783 aged 67
George ByngBorn 1663, died 1733 aged 70
John ByngBorn 29th October 1704, died 14th March 1757 aged 52
George CanningBorn 11th April 1770, died 8th August 1827 aged 57
Captain James CookBorn 27th October 1728, died 14th February 1779 aged 50
Robert HawkerBorn 3rd December 1803, died 15th August 1875 aged 71
Robert OwenBorn 14th May 1771, died 17th November 1858 aged 87
Robert PeelBorn 5th February 1788, died 2nd July 1850 aged 62
John PeelBorn 1776, died 1854 aged 78
Joseph PriestleyBorn 13th March 1733, died 8th February 1804 aged 70
Humphry ReptonBorn 21st April 1752, died 24th March 1818 aged 65
Peter Mark RogetBorn 18th January 1779, died 12th September 1869 aged 90

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