Birth of Sir Joseph Thomson

The discoverer of the electron was born 18 December 1856.

J J Thomson in his laboratory.

The discoverer of the electron was born in the Manchester suburb of Cheetham Hill and christened Joseph John. His father, Joseph James, was an antiquarian bookseller, and the business had come down to him from his own grandfather. The family’s origins were lowland Scottish, apparently, but they had been in Manchester for several generations. They were strong supporters of the local parish church and young Joe would be a lifelong Anglican Christian.

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