|Born||7 April 1809|
|Died||7 February 1903|
Born in Rotherhithe, the son of a London watchmaker, Glaisher was a Junior assistant at the Cambridge Observatory from 1833 to 1835 before moving to the Royal Greenwich Observatories, where he served as Superintendent of the Department of Meteorology and Magnetism at Greenwich for thirty-four years.
He is most famous, however, as a pioneering balloonist. Between 1862 and 1866, usually with Henry Tracey Coxwell as his co-pilot, Glaisher made numerous ascents in order to measure the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere at its highest levels. His ascent on 5 September 1862 broke the world record for altitude, but he passed out around 8,800 metres before a reading could be taken. One of the pigeons making the trip with him died. Estimates suggest that he rose to more than 9,500 metres and as much as 10,900 metres above sea-level.
He had married in 1843 Cecilia Louisa, a daughter of Henry Belville, Assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. James and Cecilia Glaisher had three children, including the mathematician James Whitbread Lee Glaisher (1848–1928).
A lunar crater is named after him.
- H. P. Hollis, ‘Glaisher, James (1809–1903)’, rev. J. Tucker, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008, accessed 5 Jan 2009
- Stratton, F.J.M. "The History of the Cambridge Observatories", Annals of the Solar Physics Observatory, Cambridge Vol. I (1949)
- "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 186.
- Centennial of Flight
- 1902 Encyclopedia
Jennifer Tucker. "Voyages of Discovery on Oceans of Air: Scientific Observation and the Image of Science in an Age of "Balloonacy"" Osiris, 2nd series, Volume 11, "Science in the Field" (1996):144-176.
- Glaisher, James. Travels in the Air. London: Bentley, 1871; Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1871. Extract
- "Glaisher, James". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
- Royal Society citation
- Newspaper cutting from New York Times, 1909.
- Details of 1862 balloon flight.
- NOAA photo library – Illus. from Glaisher's 1871 'Travels in the Air'; see #634–641