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William Henry (chemist)

For other men with the same name, see: Wiliam Henry (disambiguation).


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William Henry (December 12, 1775—September 2, 1836) was an English chemist.

William Henry, the son of Thomas Henry (1734-1816), an apothecary and writer on chemistry, was born in Manchester. He began to study medicine at Edinburgh in 1795, taking his doctor's degree in 1807, but ill-health interrupted his practice as a physician, and he devoted his time mainly to chemical research, especially with regard to gases. One of his best-known papers (Phil. Trans., 1803) describes experiments on the quantity of gases absorbed by water at different temperatures and under different pressures. His results are known today as Henry's law. His other papers deal with gas-analysis, fire-damp, illuminating gas, the composition of hydrochloric acid and of ammonia, urinary and other morbid concretions, and the disinfecting powers of heat.

His Elements of Experimental Chemistry (1799) enjoyed considerable vogue in its day, going through eleven editions in 30 years. This book was also translated into Japanese in 1840, as part of the Western studies "Rangaku" movement, by Utagawa Yoan under the name "Science of Chemistry" (舎密開宗, Seimikaisō).

He was one of the founders of the Mechanics Institute that was to become the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

He died at Pendlebury, near Manchester.


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Preceded by
Everard Home
Copley Medal
Succeeded by
Edward Troughton
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "William_Henry_(chemist)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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