John Frederick Herschel 1st Bt

John Frederick William Herschel 1st Bt (1792 - 1871)

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel 1st Bt
Born in Slough, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdommap
Ancestors ancestors
Brother of [half]
[spouse(s) unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Hawkhurst, Kent, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 9 Aug 2014
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Categories: British Notables | Nominated Profiles.

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John Frederick William Herschel was born March 7, 1792 in Slough, Buckinghamshire, England, the son of William F. Herschel and Mary Baldwin. He was the brother of Thomas Pit. John's father was an astronomer who put his efforts into building a telescope through which he could observe the heavens. He is remembered for having discovered the planet Uranus. Sir John is credited with determining Neptune was a planet instead of a star, as it was believed to be in his time

Planet Neptune

John Herschel had more varied interests and talents than his father. He grew up with astronomy but also cultivated an interest in math, photography and the idea of correcting imperfect vision. He was the first to use the terms, 'photography', 'negative', 'positive', and snapshot'. He invented the cyanotype process of photography which is also called the blueprint process. He developed the process so that he could organize notes and graphs but it is still used today as an art medium.[1]

Cyanotype of Niagra Falls

John Herschel's interest in the eye is worth noting. He researched corneal irregularities and astigmatism. He suggested vision could be improved by "neutralising the cornea." Herschel is mentioned in the history of contact lens. He hypothesized that gelatin molds might be used to correct vision. [2]. His ideas were published in his article on Light in 1827 and in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana in 1845.

John married Margaret Brodie Stewart on 3 March 1829 at Edinburgh. They had the following children:[3]

  1. Caroline Emilia Elizabeth Herschel (31 March 1830 – 29 Jan 1909), who married Alexander Hamilton-Gordon
  2. Isabella Herschel (5 June 1831 – 1893)
  3. Sir William James Herschel, 2nd Bt. (9 January 1833 – 1917),
  4. Margaret Louisa Herschel (1834–1861), an accomplished artist
  5. Prof. Alexander Stewart Herschel (1836–1907), FRS
  6. Col. John Herschel FRS, FRAS, (1837–1921) surveyor
  7. Marie Sophie Herschel (1839–1929)
  8. Amelia Herschel (1841–1926) married Sir Thomas Francis Wade, diplomat and sinologist
  9. Julia Edith Herschel (1842–1933) married on 4 June 1878 to Captain (later Admiral) John Fiot Lee Pearse Maclear
  10. Matilda Rose Herschel (1844–1914)
  11. Francisca Herschel (1846–1932)
  12. Constance Ann Herschel (1855–20 June 1939)[4]

John was created Baronet of Slough in the County of Buckingham in 1838 shortly after returning from a voyage to South Africa to map the stars. [5]While he was there he met Charles Darwin. When HMS Beagle called at Cape Town, Charles Darwin visited Herschel on 3 June 1836. Later on, Darwin would be influenced by Herschel's writings in developing his theory advanced in The Origin of Species.[6]

Sir John died at Collingwood, his home near Hawkhurst in Kent. He was given a national funeral and buried in Westminster Abbey. [7] [8]

Westminster Abbey


  1. Cyanotype History
  2. Brief History of the Contact Lens
  3. The Peerage page 21701
  4. NAHSTE Project: Sir. John Herschel
  5. Buckinghamshire, a Short History
  6. Wikipedia: John Herschel
  7. Burials and Memorials at Westminster Abbey
  8. Find A Grave

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No known carriers of John Frederick's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 10
John Frederick William Herschel, First Baronet
John Frederick William Herschel, First Baronet



John Frederick Herschel Image 5
John Frederick Herschel Image 5

Example of a Cyanotype
Example of a Cyanotype

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John Frederick is 30 degrees from Rosa Parks, 21 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 9 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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