Michael Faraday (1791–1867), the pioneering physicist and chemist, died 150 years ago. During his long career he made several major discoveries, such as electro-magnetic induction. The Royal Institution hails him as ‘one of the most famous scientific figures of the 19th century’.
Michael Faraday appears in various records in our collection; they provide insights not only into his family history but also into his career.
In 1851 Faraday was recorded in the census at the age of 59 living with his wife Sarah and niece Jane. The census return shows him living at his work place, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, in Hanover Square, London. Faraday has put ‘Professor of Chemistry’ under his occupation though at the time he also held the positions of Director of the Laboratory (1825–1867) and Assistant Superintendent of the House (1852–1867).
In 1867 Faraday died aged 75 at his Grace and Favour house at Hampton Court (bestowed to him by Queen Victoria). At his death he had around £6000, the majority of which he left to his wife. Among the other bequests were £5 to Miss Savage, ‘the valued and faithful Housekeeper of the Royal Institution’ and £400 to be paid on his wife’s death to his niece Jane who was ‘an affectionate companion and support’.
As Faraday had influence and connections in numerous fields there are also letters from him in the records of the Colonial Office, the Home Office and the Meteorological Office. Continue reading »