William Thomson [Baron Kelvin]

Life
1824-1907 [Baron Kelvin]; b. Belfast; brought to Glasgow, Scotland, as a child; ed. Glasgow University, entering at the age of 11; established 2nd law of thermodynamics; devised the Atlantic Cable or which he was knighted in 1866; created Baron Kelvin of Largs 1892; d. London; his papers collected as Mathematical and Physical Papers, 1881-1911. DIW CAB IBL DIB

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References
Henry Boylan, A Dictionary of Irish Biography [rev. edn.] (Gill & Macmillan 1988) lists under ‘Kelvin, William Thompson’. See also Irish Book Lover, Vol. 1 [infra].

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Commentary
[J. S. Crone,] “Miscellaneous”, in The Irish Book Lover , Vol. I, No. 7 (Feb. 1910), on Lord Kelvin's Early Home (Macmillan): ‘This interesting well written, well illustrated work comprising the recollections of Mrs. King, the eldest sister of Lord Kelvin, describes the beautiful associations amidst which the gifted Thomson family were brought up in Belfast and Glasgow. It will, we are assured, be of more than ordinary interest to readers in the former city introducing as it does anecdotes concerning the remarkable men who a century ago gained for her the title of “The Northern Athens”, and indeed throughout Ulster where “Thomson” and his “Arithmetic” were household words. As showing the leanings of the sturdy yeomen from whom Kelvin sprung, his sister says, her father was taught to read from handkerchiefs on which were printed mottoes and verses composed by the patriots of ’98. And again before the battle of Ballynahinch, the rebel army was “camping near my grandfather’s house, and his daughters secretly carried food to the insurgents, their little brother helping them. Long after these times he wrote an account of the battle to read to the Belfast Literary Society, which was afterwards published in a magazine”, and, we may add, republished in 1904 in the Irish Presbyterian.’ (p.90.)

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Quotations
Life in matter: ‘Dead matter cannot become living without coming under the influence of matter previously alive.’ [...] because we all confidently believe that there are at present, and have been from time immemorial, many worlds of life besides our own, we must regard it as probable in the highest degree that there are countless seed-bearing meteoric stones moving about through space.’ ‘.. moss grown fragments from the ruins of another world ..’ ‘intelligent and benevolent design [...] one ever-acting Creator and Ruler.’ (quoted in Charles A. Read, The Cabinet of Irish Literature (London, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast & Edinburgh: Blackie & Son [1876-78])

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Notes
Portrait: There is an oil portrait of William Thompson, Lord Kelvin by Hubert von Herkomer, oil, Univ. of Glasgow; see Anne Crookshank, Irish Portraits Exhibition (Ulster Mus. 1965).

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