Michael Faraday

1791-1867. English scientist. Born in London, son of a blacksmith who had shortly before removed from Yorkshire, Faraday became a laboratory assistant to Sir Humphrey Davy at the Royal Institution (1813) and later succeeded him as professor of chemistry (1827). His discoveries in physical science were numerous and outstanding: he made, for example, the first electric motor, the first dynamo, and the first transformer. In religion he was of Sandemanian* ancestry; his grandfather Robert Faraday (1724-86) had been an Inghamite, but was converted to Sandemanianism around 1759. Faraday's parents, like himself and his wife, were lifelong adherents of the group. His outlook in science was deeply influenced by religion; in his lectures he often used science as evidence of God's power and wisdom. Believing that the universe was in some way a manifestation of the one and only God revealed through Christ, Faraday looked for and found unity in natural phenomena. His life was devoted to Christian work and to science; he was a brilliant lecturer who made science popular in his day. On Christian grounds he rejected wealth, and on retirement was very poor, but a government pension was granted and later (1858) a house in Hampton Court was provided for him by Queen Victoria.

Biographies by J.H. Gladstone (2 vols., 1872); S.P. Thompson (1898); and L.P. Williams (1963); for background, see J.F. Riley, The Hammer and the Anvil (1954); for Faraday's works, see A.E. Jeffreys, Michael Faraday, A List of his Lectures and Published Writings (1960).