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Herschel, Sir William, 1738-1822 (Knight, astronomer and musician)



Herschel, William (1738-1822), musician and astronomer, was born at Hanover on 15 November 1738, and baptized Friedrich Wilhelm. He was the fourth of the ten children (and the third of six to survive infancy) of Isaac Herschel (1707-1767), a former gardener who was then an oboist in the Hanoverian foot guards, and his wife, Anna Ilse Moritzen. All the children, except the eldest, inherited their father's musical talent; and, although the family lived in humble circumstances, the boys were encouraged to take a lively interest in scientific and philosophical questions. Herschel attended the garrison school, where he proved an apt pupil.