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Sir Joseph John Thomson

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 4th 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 18th 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 8th June 1951.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Born

18th December 1856

Buried

4th September 1940

Field

Scientist; physicist

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Stone

Sir Joseph John Thomson
Sir Joseph John Thomson

Nobel foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sir Joseph John Thomson
Sir Joseph John and Rose Thomson grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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