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William Thomson, Lord Kelvin: Family Letters

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8818

Scope and Contents

68 letters, mostly from Kelvin to his sister Elizabeth; a few to David King; some from Margaret Thomson, Kelvin's first wife, and Frances Thomson, his second wife; 3 from Charles and Margaret Watson at the time of Margaret Thomson's death; and 4 from Frances Thomson to Elizabeth, daughter of David and Elizabeth King. The letters cover family news; occasional references to Kelvin's scientific work; the long illness of Margaret Thomson, and of David King; the laying of Atlantic telegraph cables, 1865-1866, and other underwater cables; and the death at sea of David King junior, 1874. The collection also contains photographs, including one of a drawing of Lord Kelvin, his brother James Thomson and Elizabeth King, by Agnes Gardner King, and two photographs of Dr David King. The letters are from Lord Kelvin to Elizabeth Thomson unless stated.


  • 1836-1906


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1 archive box(es) (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by Anthony Hilbery, 1990

Related Materials

Lord Kelvin's paper, which contain letters from Elizabeth King, are at Add.7342

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom