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Royal Institution of Great Britain

Grove, Sir William Robert (1811-1896)


Reference code(s): GB 0116 Sir William Robert Grove Collection

Held at: Royal Institution of Great Britain

Title: Grove, Sir William Robert (1811-1896)

Date(s): 1819-1877

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 0.91 metres

Name of creator(s): Grove, Sir William Robert, 1811-1896. Knight. Natural Philosopher. Judge.


Administrative/Biographical history:

William Robert Grove was born the son of John Grove, a magistrate, and Anne Bevan, in Swansea, Wales, in 1811. He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford and graduated in 1832. In 1835, he became a barrister at Lincoln's Inn and also became a member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (RI) in the same year. In 1837 he married Emma Powles and they subsequently had six children. Despite his occupation in law, he was interested in science and researched into electrochemistry. He developed the `Grove gas voltaic battery' in 1839, and also developed the `Grove cell' using platinum for increased voltage. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1840, and gained their Royal medal in 1847. In 1841 he became Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the London Institution, in Finsbury Square, London, where he also gave lectures. In 1846 he published On the Correlation of Physical Forces, which established the theory of the mutual convertibility of forces. He was a member of the Chemical Society; a Member of the Council of the Royal Society from 1846 to 1847 and became Secretary of the Royal Society from 1848 to 1849. He retired from being a barrister in 1853 due to ill health, but he also became part of Queen's Counsel in the same year. He then became a member of the Royal Commission on the Law of Patents in 1864, and a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas in 1871. In 1871 he was knighted. He became a Judge of the Queen's Bench in 1880 and Privy Councillor in 1887. He died in London in 1896.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Sir William Robert Grove include correspondence to and from various recipients, 1839-1877 (GR1-GR3); Grove papers: printed and manuscript drafts, including notes on a tour of Wales (possibly by his father, John Grove); notes on electricity and on electrolytic and disruptive discharges, 1848; notes on magnetism and heat; notes on the influence of light on polarised electrodes, 1856; a dialogue of continuity; drafts for a presidential address, 1866-1867 (GR4).


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

As outlined in the scope and content field.

Conditions governing access:

Access to bona fide researchers by appointment with the Keeper of the Collections or the Assistant Archivist, the Royal Institution of Great Britain (RI).

Conditions governing reproduction:

Reproduction of material is permitted at the discretion of the Keeper of the Collections, RI.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Card catalogue and General catalogue at the RI.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The Royal Institution of Great Britain holds a portrait of Sir William Robert Grove.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: General catalogue at the RI. Detailed catalogue to be prepared. Description compiled by Miss Ivone Martins, Assistant Archivist, RI.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: April 2001.

Electric power | Energy resources
Electrochemistry | Physical chemistry
Legal systems | Law
Science administration

Personal names
Despretz | César Mansiete | 1792-1863 | French chemist
Faraday | Michael | 1791-1867 | chemist and natural philosopher
Gassiot | John Peter | 1797-1877 | scientific writer
Grove | Sir | William Robert | 1811-1896 | Knight | natural philosopher and judge
Hooker | Sir | Joseph Dalton | 1817-1911 | Knight | botanist
Horner | Leonard | 1785-1864 | geologist
Louyet | Paulin | fl 1845-1849 | French chemist
Lyell | Sir | Charles | 1797-1875 | 1st Baronet | geologist
Matteucci | Carlo | 1811-1868 | Italian physiologist and physicist
Murchison | Sir | Roderick Impey | 1792-1871 | 1st Baronet | geologist
Phillips | John | 1800-1874 | geologist
Powell | Baden | 1796-1860 | Savilian Professor of Geometry
Royle | John Forbes | 1799-1858 | surgeon and naturalist
Sabine | Sir | Edward | 1788-1883 | Knight | General and geophysicist
Schoenbein | Christian Friedrich | 1799-1868 | Professor of Physics and Chemistry
Séguin | Marc Ainé | 1786-1875 | French architect and inventor x Seguin | Marc Aine
Talbot | William Henry | Fox | 1800-1877 | politician and pioneer of photography x Fox Talbot | William Henry
Tyndall | John | 1820-1893 | natural philosopher

Corporate names
Court of Common Pleas
Inns of Court | Lincoln's Inn x Lincoln's Inn
London Institution
Royal Institution of Great Britain
Royal Society

London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Oxford | Oxfordshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Swansea | Glamorgan | Wales | UK | Western Europe | Europe