|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 Observatory, Greenwich, where he served as Superintendent of the Department of Meteorology and Magnetism at Greenwich for thirty-four years.
He was a founder member of the Meteorological Society (1850) and the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain (1866). He was president of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1867 to 1868. Glaisher was elected a member of The Photographic Society, later the Royal Photographic Society, in 1854 and served as the Society's President for 1869–1874 and 1875–1892. He remained a member until his death.
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.
In 1843 he married Cecilia Louisa Belville, a daughter of Henry Belville, Assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. James and Cecilia Glaisher had two sons, Ernest Glaisher and the mathematician James Whitbread Lee Glaisher (1848–1928), and one daughter.
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- Centennial of Flight
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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
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