Michael Faraday's Grave, Highgate Cemetery, London

Michael Faraday's Grave in Highgate Cemetery, London N6. Faraday (1791-1867), whose work on electromagnetism and electrochemistry was so important and seminal, and even helped to give us the vocabulary for these new studies, died at his home on Hampton Court Green, Hampton Court, after a period of declining health. He was 73. Well-known and highly respected as a speaker at the Royal Institution, he received a heartfelt eulogy in The Times, as much for his character as for his scientific attainments: "Modest, truthful, candid, he had the true spirit of a philosopher and of a Christian." He was buried in the Sandemanian plot of the Western Cemetery: he had been an elder of the Nonconformist Sandemanian Church. Of his funeral, an early biographer wrote,

The funeral, at his own request, was of the simplest character. His remains were conveyed to Highgate Cemetery by his relations, and deposited in the grave, according to the practice of his Church, in perfect silence. Few of his scientific friends were in London that bright summer-time, but Professor Graham [Thomas Graham, 1805-1869, Professor of Chemistry at University College, London] and one or two others came out from the shrubbery, and joining the group of family mourners, took their last look at the coffin.

But when this sun had set below our earthly horizon, there seemed to spring up in the minds of men a great desire to catch some of the rays of the fading brightness and reflect them to posterity. A "Faraday Memorial" was soon talked of, and the work is now in the sculptor's hands; the Chemical Society has founded a "Faraday Lectureship," one of the new streets in Paris has been called "Rue Faraday;" biographical sketches have appeared in marly of the British and Continental journals; successive books have told the story of his life and work; and in a thousand hearts there is embalmed the memory of this Christian gentleman and philosopher. (Gladstone 59)

Presumably, the sculpture mentioned here is the famous statue of him by John Henry Foley. Faraday's wife Sarah (1800-1879) is buried in the same grave.

Photographs by Robert Freidus, reproduced here by kind permission of Highgate Cemetery. Text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. [ Click on the images for larger pictures.]

Sources

Gladstone, J. H. Michael Faraday. London: Macmillan, 1873. Internet Archive. Web. 14 August 2014.

"The Late Professor Faraday." The Times. 28 August 1867: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.


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Last modified 14 August 2013