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Henry Cavendish

Nature volume 130, pages 468469 (24 September 1932) | Download Citation



WITH reference to a paragraph which appeared in these columns in the issue of NATURE for Aug. 6 (p. 198), in which the ascription of the title ‘Honourable’ to Henry Cavendish was described as a persistent delusion, Dr. E. J. Holmyard writes: “This stricture appears to be based upon a misapprehension. It is only within the last hundred years that the title ‘Honourable’ has been conventionally limited to the children of peers below the rank of marquis, and that it was commonly given to Cavendish is shown both by the admission register of Peterhouse (where he is described as ‘Honorabilis Henricus Cavendish’) and by the fact that Wilson's ‘Life’ (London, 1851), written when many of Cavendish's contemporaries were still living, employs the title without comment.” Dr. Holmyard, however, will find that the definition of the term given in early reference books (for example, “Encyclopædia Britannica”, 3rd ed., 1797) is exactly the same as the one in force to-day, and allows no excuse for the ascription to Cavendish. Cavendish's father, Lord Charles Cavendish, was not a peer, and however loosely the term might have been used and accepted in those days, it seems quite clear that Henry Cavendish had no right to it, and that it was incorrectly applied to his name and has been as incorrectly accepted without question until now.

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