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British Industrial History

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Horace Darwin

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Sir Horace Darwin (1851–1928) of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co

A younger son of Charles Darwin

1928 Obituary [1]

Sir HORACE DARWIN, K.B.E., was the fifth son of Charles Darwin, at whose home at Down, Kent, he was born in 1851.

He was trained as an engineer, after taking his degree at Cambridge in the mathematical tripos of 1874, in the pattern shop and foundry of Messrs. Easton and Anderson; and he subsequently happily united his mechanical engineering qualifications with the bent for pure science inherited from his father by becoming a designer and manufacturer of scientific instruments.

Horace Darwin, with the business support of Mr. Dew-Smith, founded what afterwards became the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company at a time when the commercial manufacture of such instruments had hardly commenced, even on the Continent.

In conjunction with W. N. Caldwell and Sir Richard Threlfall, he invented the rocking microtome used by biologists, and he designed anthropometric and seismometric instruments.

Mr. Dew-Smith retired in 1895, since when Sir Horace carried on and extended the business under its present title until recent years, his natural genius for invention enabling him to design many original instruments for special purposes without being limited by preceding lines of development.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1903. During the war he was busily engaged personally and on committees in connexion with aeronautical work and the production of instruments, and he received the K.B.E. in 1918 in recognition of his work.

Sir Horace Darwin became a Member of the Institution in 1878. His death occurred on 22nd September 1928.

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