Record

Authorised form of nameYoung; Thomas (1773 - 1829); physician, physicist and Egyptologist
Dates1773 - 1829
NationalityBritish
Place of birthMilverton, Somerset, England
Date of birth13 June 1773
Place of deathLondon
Date of death10 May 1829
Dates and placesBurial:
Farnborough, Kent
Research fieldNatural philosophy
ActivityCareer:
Made pioneering contribution to the understanding of light by demonstrating interference patterns, known as 'Young's fringes' (1800) which led to the Young-Fresnel undulatory theory. He also formulated an important measure of elasticity, known as 'Young's Modulus'. First to explain the accommodation of the eye; discovered the phemomenon of astigmatism; and proposed the three colour theory of vision which was later known as the Young-Hemholz theory, and was finally confirmed experimentally in 1959. Appointed to a professorship of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution (1801). His lectures at Royal Institution (1802-1803) were described by Joseph Larmor as "the greatest and most original of all general lecture courses". Undertook seminal work on the Rosetta Stone, deciphering the second type of Egyptian script on the stone, known as demotic, though the credit for finally reading the hieroglyphs belongs to Jean-Francois Champollion. A major scholar in ancient Greek, and a phenomenal linguist who coined the term 'Indo-European' for the language family which includes Greek and Sanskrit. Also a distinguished physician at St. George's Hospital, adviser to the Admiralty on shipbuilding, secretary of the Board of Longitude, and superintendent of the vital 'Nautical Almanac' from 1818 to 1829. Contributed many entries to the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' (1816-1825). Physician to and inspector of calculations for the Palladian Insurance Company (1824-1829).
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election19/06/1794
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
For Sec 1804-1829
Lectures:
Bakerian 1800, 1801, 1803; Croonian 1808
RelationshipsNephew of Richard Brocklesby (FRS 1747); married Eliza Maxwell (1804)
SourcesSources:
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB
References:
John R Levene, 'Sir George Biddell Airy, FRS (1801-1892) and the Discovery and Correction of Astigmatism' in NR 1966 vol 21 pp 180-199
G N Cantor, 'Thomas Young's Lectures at the Royal Institution' in NR 1970 vol 25 pp 87-112
Linde Katritzky, 'Coleridge's Links with Leading Men of Science' in NR 1995 vol 49 pp 261-276
Sir John Meurig Thomas, 'Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford and the Royal Institution' in NR 1999 vol 53 pp 11-25
Alex D D Craik, 'James Ivory, FRS, mathematician: "the most unlucky person that ever existed"' in NR 2000 vol 54 pp 223-247
W P Griffith and P J T Morris, 'Charles Hatchett FRS (1765 - 1847), chemist and discoverer of niobium' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 299 - 31
Andrew Robinson, 'A polymath's dilemma' in 'Nature' Vol 438, November 2005 p 291
Andrew Robinson 'The Last Man Who Knew Everything' 2006, Pi Press
Virtual International Authority Filehttp://viaf.org/viaf/128851
Royal Society codeNA7947
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
MM/10/8Letter from Francisco de Borja Garcao Stockler to Thomas Young, Secretary, Royal Societylate 18th - early 19th century
MM/8/84'Postscript to Dr Young's Letter on the Reduction of Experiments'1819
DM/3/127Bill from William Cary, Mathematical Instrument Maker, for £28.4.031 May 1816
DM/3/131Bill and Receipt, Thomas Young and Handley & MooreNovember 1816-July 1817
DM/4/125Letter from Thomas Young, Board of Longitude, to W T Brande, Secretary, Royal Society7 February 1824
MS/242Letters to Thomas Young from Messrs Arago, Biot, Bessel, Berzelius, Fresnel, Malus, Humboldt, Laplace, Poisson and Wollaston17 December 1847
IM/005040Young, Thomasnd
CB/1/1/137Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden, Paris5 December 1814
MM/14/3'Estimate of Works proposed to be done for Dr Young at the Royal Institution Abermarle Street', by Joshua RamseySeptember 1827
CB/1/1/136Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden, Paris25 November 1814
CB/1/1/130Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden, Paris2 January 1814
CB/1/1/141Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden14 February 1815
CB/1/1/144Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden28 February 1815
IM/005038Young, Thomasnd
MC/2/222Letter from Andrew Green, Prestbury near Cheltenham, to Dr. [Peter Mark] Roget, [Secretary of the Royal Society]c. September 1836
PT/1/15Letter, 'Extract of a letter from Dr [Heinrich] Olbers FRS to Dr [Thomas] Young, For Sec RS, announcing the discovery of a new planet'2 April 1807
L&P/12/60Paper, 'Experiments and observations relative to physical optica' [Bakerian Lecture] by Thomas Young1803
L&P/10/51/1Paper, 'Observations on vision' by Thomas Young1793
L&P/11/116Paper, 'Outlines of expriments and inquiries respecting sound and light' by Thomas Young1799
L&P/10/51Paper, 'Observations on vision' by Thomas Young1793
L&P/11/172Paper, 'On the theory of light and colours' [Bakerian Lecture] by Thomas Young1801
L&P/11/144Paper, 'On the mechanism of the eye' by Thomas Young1800
L&P/12/32Paper, 'Account of some cases of the production of colours, not hithero described' by Thomas Young1802
L&P/10/51/2Plate, 'A vertical section of the ox's eye, of twice the natural size' by Thomas Young1793
L&P/11/116/1Paper, 'Outlines of expriments and inquiries respecting sound and light' by Thomas Young1799
L&P/11/144/2Plate, 'At the vertex of a given triangle, to place a given refracting surface, so that the incident and refracted rays may coincide with the sides of the triangle' by Thomas Young1800
L&P/11/144/7Plate, 'Various forms of the image depicted by a cylindrical pencil of rays obliquely refracted by a spherical surface, when received on planes at distances progressively greater' by Thomas Young1800
L&P/11/144/5Plate, 'The successive forms of the image of a large distant object, as it would be delineated by each refractive surface in the eye; to show how that form at last coincides with the retina' by Thomas Young1800
L&P/12/86Paper, 'Essay on the cohesion of fluids' by Thomas Young1804
L&P/11/144/3Plate, 'At the vertex of a given triangle, to place a given refracting surface, so that the incident and refracted rays may coincide with the sides of the triangle' by Thomas Young1800
L&P/11/172/1Paper, 'On the theory of light and colours' [Bakerian Lecture] by Thomas Young1801
L&P/11/144/1Paper, 'On the mechanism of the eye' by Thomas Young1800
L&P/11/144/8Plate, 'The crenated zone, and the globules regularly arranged on the crystalline of the partridge' by Thomas Young1800
CB/1/1/173Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden23 February 1820
IM/005041Young, Thomas1996
MM/9/7Letter from Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, Dover, to Sir Joseph Banks21 September 1801
MM/8/83Letter from Dr Thomas Young, Admiralty, to Sir Joseph Banks20 May 1819
DM/3/49BLetter from J F W Herschel, Secretary, Royal Society, to JT Cooper19 November 1827
CB/1/1/138Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden, Paris13 December 1814
PT/73/12/7Diagram, mortality rates by [Thomas Young?][1826]
L&P/11/144/4Plate, 'The form of the ends of the optometer, when made of card. The apertures in the shoulders are for holding a lens: the square ends turn under, and are fastened together' by Thomas Young1800
EC/1794/04Young, Thomas: certificate of election to the Royal Society
CB/1/1/170Letter from Sir Joseph Banks, Soho Square to Charles Blagden1 January 1820
IM/005039Young, Thomasnd
PT/2/13Paper, 'Hydraulic investigations, subservient to an intended Croonian Lecture on the motion of the blood' by Thomas Young[1808]
PT/3/1Paper, 'The Croonian Lecture on the functions of the heart and arteries' by Thomas Young[1808]
PT/3/6Paper, 'A numerical table of elective attractions; with remarks on sequences of double decompositions' by Thomas Young[1809]
MC/1/62Letter from [Francisco de Borja Garcao] Stockler, Rio de Janeiro, to Thomas Young, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society6 October 1819
MC/1/84Letter from Thomas Young to [William] Hardy, chronometer maker, 5 Wood Street, Coldbath Square, London5 September 1822
MC/1/129Letter from Richard Bingham, 4 Lamb's Conduit Place, to Thomas Young, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society21 May 1825
PT/8/17Paper, 'Remarks on the employment of oblique riders, and on other alterations in the construction of ships' by Thomas Young[1814]
PT/8/17/2Plate, diagrams showing joints and braces used in constructing a ship by unknown artist[1814]
PT/8/21Paper, 'An improved method of dividing astronomical circles and other instruments' by Capt Henry Kater[1814]
PT/8/17/1Manuscript, 'Remarks on the employment of oblique riders, and on other alterations in the construction of ships' by Thomas Young[1814]
PT/8/21/1Manuscript, 'An improved method of dividing astronomical circles and other instruments' by Capt Henry Kater[1814]
PT/9/10Paper, 'On some phenomena of colours, exhibited by thin plates' by John Knox6 October 1812
PT/8/21/3Plate, microscope arrangements by unknown artist[1814]
MC/1/155Letter from [George Biddell] Airy, Trinity College Cambridge, to Francis Baily, 37 Tavistock Place22 January 1828
PT/9/10/2Plate, two figures of concentric rings and fringes by unknown artist6 October 1812
PT/9/10/3Plate, four figures of concentric rings and fringes by unknown artist6 October 1812
PT/9/10/6Plate, concentric rings and colour distribution by unknown artist6 October 1812
PT/9/10/1Manuscript, 'On some phenomena of colours, exhibited by thin plates' by John Knox6 October 1812
PT/9/10/4Plate, nine figures of concentric rings and fringes by unknown artist6 October 1812
PT/9/10/5Plate, diagram of light reflecting off of lens by unknown artist6 October 1812
PT/9/10/7Plate, three sets of concentric rings and colour distribution by unknown artist6 October 1812
MC/1/164Letter from Allen Francis Gardiner, 7 Tower Crescent, Clifton, to Dr. [Thomas] Young, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society 15 December 1828
MC/1/163Letter from Allen Francis Gardiner, 7 Tower Crescent, Clifton, to Dr. [Thomas] Young, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society 10 December 1828
PT/12/7/3Plate, plan and end view of nippers used in experiment by George Rennie[1817]
PT/12/7Paper, 'Account of experiments made on the strength of materials' by George Rennie in a letter to Thomas Young3 June 1817
PT/12/7/2Plate, plan and end of lever used in experiment by George Rennie[1817]
PT/12/7/1Manuscript, 'Account of experiments made on the strength of materials' by George Rennie in a letter to Thomas Young3 June 1817
PT/12/19Paper, 'Observations on the heights of mountains in the north of England' by Thomas Greatorex in a letter to Thomas Young[1818]
PT/13/6Paper, 'Remarks on the advantage of multiplied observations in the physical sciences, and on the density and internal structure of the earth' by Thomas Young in a letter to Capt Henry Kater29 December 1818
PT/13/7Paper, 'On the anomaly in the variation of the magnetic needle as observed on ship-board' by Wm [William] Scoresby3 November 1818
PT/14/4Paper, 'On the elasticity of the lungs' by James CarsonSeptember 1819
PT/14/3Letter, explanation of accompanying paper from James Carson to Thomas Young25 September 1819
PT/15/25Paper, 'Calculation of some observations of the solar eclipse on the 7th of Sept [September] 1820' by Charles Rumker[1821]
PT/8/21/2Plate, components of astronomical instruments by unknown artist[1814]
PT/17/9Paper, 'Experiments on the elasticity and strength of hard and soft steel' in a letter from Thomas Tredgold to Thomas Young16 December 1823
PT/17/9/1Manuscript, 'Experiments on the elasticity and strength of hard and soft steel' in a letter from Thomas Tredgold to Thomas Young16 December 1823
PT/17/9/2Plate, apparatus for measuring flexure by unknown artist16 December 1823
PT/17/10Paper, 'A short account of some observations made with chronometers in two expeditions sent out by the Admiralty at the recommendation of the Board of Longitude for ascertaining the longitude of Madeira and of Falmouth' in a letter from Dr J L [John Lewis] Tiarks to Thomas Young[1824]
MC/2Volume 2 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1832-1838
AP/12/3Unpublished letter and extract, regarding thermometers from G [George] Cayley to [Thomas] YoungJuly-November 1825
AP/12/3/1Unpublished letter, regarding thermometers from G [George] Cayley to [Thomas] Young15 November 1825
AP/12/3/2Unpublished extract, 'Observations on Fahrenheit's and Reaumur's thermometers' by George CayleyJuly 1825
P/0146Portrait of Young, Thomas
MC/1Volume 1 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1800-1831
PT/14/5Paper, additional copy of 'On the elasticity of the lungs' by James Carson17 September 1819
AP/1/3Unpublished paper, 'Estimate of the force of explosion of coal gas' by unknown author[early 19th century]
MC/5/52Letter from Tho [Thomas] Young, East Acton, to C [Charles Richard] Weld, [Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society]22 October 1852
MC/5Volume 5 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1851-1858
AP/9/23Unpublished paper, 'Observations on the new system of diagonal framing, introduced into HM [His Majesty's] Navy by R [Robert] Seppings Esq' by William Morgan[1819]
AP/9/23/1Unpublished manuscript, 'Observations on the new system of diagonal framing, introduced into HM [His Majesty's] Navy by R [Robert] Seppings Esq' by William Morgan[1819]
AP/9/23/2Unpublished diagrams, diagonal framing by [William Morgan?][1819]
AP/9/26Unpublished letter, 'On some general expressions for the limits of functions' from [Francisco de Borja Garção] Stockler to T [Thomas] Young25 February 1820
AP/12/13/4Unpublished copy letter, regarding algebraic solution to the quadrature of the circle from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young20 June 1826
AP/11/25Unpublished paper, 'On the nature and properties of straight lined angles' by J [John] Walsh20 January 1824
AP/12/12/5Unpublished diagram, triangles and semicircle inscribed in circle by Charles Hudson20 January 1825
AP/12/12/3Unpublished diagram, triangle inscribed in circle attached to semicircle by Charles Hudson20 January 1825
AP/12/12/6Unpublished diagram, triangle and overlapping circles by Charles Hudson20 January 1825
AP/12/12/4Unpublished diagram, triangle inscribed in circle attached to semicircle by Charles Hudson20 January 1825
AP/12/13/3Unpublished copy letter, regarding demonstration of the quadrature of the circle from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young9 June 1826
AP/12/13/2Unpublished copy letter, regarding the quadrature of the circle from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young2 April 1825
AP/12/11/2Unpublished drawings, accelerator for infantry by [Charles Hudson?]28 July 1825
AP/12/11/1Unpublished letter, regarding an accelerator to facilitate the march of infantry from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young28 July 1825
AP/12/12Unpublished letter, regarding the quadrature of the circle from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young20 January 1825
AP/12/12/2Unpublished diagram, segmented triangle by Charles Hudson20 January 1825
AP/12/13Unpublished letters, regarding the quadrature of the circle from Charles Hudson to the President of the Royal Society [Davies Gilbert]1825-1828
AP/12/12/1Unpublished letter, regarding the quadrature of the circle from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young20 January 1825
AP/12/11Unpublished letter, regarding an accelerator to facilitate the march of infantry from Charles Hudson to Thomas Young28 July 1825
AP/13/12Unpublished paper, 'On the limits of the pulse in the arteries of the human body' by Lacon Wm [William] Lambe[1828]
AP/13/28Unpublished paper, address as President of the Royal Society by Davies Gilbert30 November 1829
AP/12/14Unpublished letter, regarding leather storm sails and tents from Jacob Lawrence to T [Thomas] Young4 October 1826
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