Escutcheons of Science
 Baron of Largs 
 (Kelvin exhibit)

William Thomson (1824-1907) Lord Kelvin, Baron of Largs
Baron Kelvin of Netherhall, Largs
(knighted Nov. 10th 1866, raised to the peerage in 1892)

 Lord Kelvin  Lord Kelvin

Argent, a stag's head cabossed Gules, on a chief Azure a thunderbolt
Proper winged Or, between two spur revels of the field.
  [1866]
Crest:  A cubit arm erect vested Azure, cuffed Argent,
the hand grasping five ears of rye Proper. 
Supporters:  Dexter:  A student of the University of Glasgow, habited [Gules],
holding in the dexter hand a marine voltmeter.
Sinister:  A sailor habited [Azure], holding in the dexter hand a coil, the rope passing
through the sinister, and suspended therefrom a sinker of a sounding machine, all Proper. 
Motto (over the crest):  Honesty without fear.  Baron Kelvin Thunderbolt

Heraldic Notes  [edited summary] :

New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971
by Leslie G. Pine
Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore MD (1973)


William Thomson  was born in Belfast on June 26, 1824.  He was educated at the elementary school attached to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution where his father, James Thomson, was a professor.  In 1832, James accepted an appointment as professor of mathematics in the University of Glasgow, Scotland.  Founded in 1451, the  University of Glasgow  is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world; after Oxford (1096), Cambridge (1209) and St. Andrews (1413).  The family relocated to Glasgow in October 1833.  In 1834,  at age 10,  William  enrolled in the elementary school that was part of his father's new institution.

In 1841,  at age 17,  the future  Lord Kelvin  started his Cambridge education at  Peterhouse  (often called  St. Peter  at the time)  the oldest constituent college of the  University of Cambridge  (founded in 1284 by  Hugh de Balsham, bishop of Ely).  He graduated  second wrangler  in 1845  (everybody was expecting him to be first wrangler)  and was duly elected a fellow of  St. Peter's  in June  1845.  The young  William Thomson  then spent some time in Paris, in the laboratory of  Henri Victor Regnault (1810-1878; X1830)  who had succeeded  Gay-Lussac (1778-1850; X1797)  as Professor of Chemistry at  Polytechnique,  in 1841.  Regnault had also been made Professor of Physics, in 1843, at the  Collège de France  and he was a noted pioneer of thermodynamics known for his careful measurenents of the properties of gases.

In 1846, at the age of 22,  William Thomson  was appointed to the  chair of natural philosophy  at the  University of Glasgow, which he had been attending as a youngster a few years earlier.  He found himself lecturing to some of his former classmates there...  (Later, as  Lord Kelvin,  he would keep celebrating this appointment by signing  "Kelvin PNP", where the "PNP" stood for  Professor of Natural Philosophy.)

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin   |   Arms of the Thomsons   |   Lord Kelvin Online   |   Kelvin Society


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