Sir Joseph John Thomson
Born: 18 Dec, 1856
Burial Date: 04 Sep, 1940
Field: Scientist
Location in the Abbey: Nave
Type of memorial: Stone

The ashes of physicist Sir Joseph John Thomson lie in the nave of Westminster Abbey near the graves of Newton and Rutherford. The interment took place during his funeral service held on 4 September 1940. The original stone read:

"Joseph John Thomson, OM, Physicist 1856-1940. Master of Trinity College Cambridge"

But, at the request of his family,  a new stone replaced this in 1991, with the inscription:

"1856-1940 JOSEPH JOHN THOMSON. ORDER OF MERIT. PHYSICIST. MASTER OF TRINITY COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE AND ROSE HIS WIFE 1860-1951"

He was born on 18 December 1856, eldest son of Joseph James Thomson and his wife Emma (Swindell). He attended Owens College in Manchester and Trinity College Cambridge where he excelled in mathematics and physics. In 1884 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and succeeded Lord Rayleigh as Cavendish professor of experimental physics. In 1890 he married Rose Paget and they had a son George and daughter Joan. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics and was knighted in 1908. He was elected Master of Trinity in 1918. His discovery of what we now called electrons, announced in 1897, was the beginning of modern atomic physics. Rose was buried with him on 8 June 1951.

A photo of the gravestone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

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