William Edward Ayrton (1847-1908), English physicist, was born in London on the 14th of September 1847. He was educated at University College, London, and in 1868 went out to Bengal in the service of the Indian Government Telegraph department. In 1873 he was appointed professor of physics and telegraphy at the Imperial College of Engineering, Tokio. On his return to London six years later he became professor of applied physics at the Finsbury College of the City and Guilds of London Technical Institute, and in 1884 he was chosen professor of electrical engineering at the Central Technical College, South Kensington. He published, both alone and jointly with others, a large number of papers on physical, and in particular electrical, subjects, and his name was especially associated, together with that of Professor John Perry, with the invention of a long series of electrical measuring instruments. He died in London on the 8th of November 1908. His wife, Mrs Hertha Ayrton, whom he married in 1885, assisted him in his researches, and became known for her scientific work on the electric arc and other subjects.
The Royal Society awarded her one of its Royal medals in 1906.