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HENRY VANSITTART (1732-1770 or 1771)

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 897 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HENRY VANSITTART (1732-1770 or 1771), Anglo-Indian governor, was born in London on the 3rd of June 1732. His father, Arthur van Sittart (1691-176o), and his grandfather, Peter van Sittart (1651-1705), were both wealthy merchants and directors of the Russia company. Peter, a merchant adventurer, who had migrated from Danzig to London about 167o, was also a director of the East India company. The family name is taken from the town of Sittard in Limburg. Educated at Reading school and at Winchester college, Henry Vansittart joined the society of the Franciscans, or the " Hell-fire club," at Medmenham, his elder brothers, Arthur and Robert, being also members of this fraternity. In 1745 he entered the He succeeded his cousin, Solomon Van Rensselaer (1744-1852), who was in the regular army in 1792-1800, who had fought under General Anthony Wayne at Maumee Rapids in 1794 and under Stephen Van Rensselaer at Queenston Heights in 1812, and who was in the House of Representatives in 1819-1822.service of the East India company and sailed for Fort St David; here he showed himself very industrious, made the acquaintance of Robert Clive and rose rapidly from one position to another. As a member of the council of Madras he helped to defend the city against the French in 1759, and in July 176o he went to Bengal as president of the council and governor of Fort William. Courageously facing the difficulties of his new position, which included a serious lack of funds, he deposed the subadar of Bengal, Mir Jafar, whom he replaced by his son-in-law, Mir Kasim, a circumstance which increased the influence of England in the province. He was, however, less successful in another direction. Practically all the company's servants were traders in their private capacity, and as they claimed various privileges and exemptions this system was detrimental to the interests of the native princes and gave rise to an enormous amount of corruption. Vansittart sought to check this, and in 1762 he made a ~ treaty with Mir Kasim, but the majority of his council were against , him and in the following year this was repudiated. Reprisals on the part of the subadar were followed by war; and, ' annoyed at the failure of his pacific schemes, the governor resigned and returned to England in 1764. His conduct was attacked before the board of directors in London, but events seemed to prove that he was in the right, and in 1769 he became a director of the company, having in the previous year obtained a seat in parliament. He was now sent on an important mission to India; he left England in September 1769, but the ship in which he sailed was lost at sea late in 1770 or early in 1971. One of his five sons was Nicholas Vansittart, Baron Bexley (q.v.). To defend his conduct in Bengal Vansittart published some papers as A Na, rative of the Transactions in Bengal from I76o to 1764 (London, 1766). Vansittart's brother, Robert Vansittart (1728-1789), who was educated at Winchester and at Trinity College, Oxford, was regius professor of civil law. at Oxford from 1757 until his death on the 31st of January 1789. Another brother, George Vansittart (1745-1825), of Bisham Abbey, Berkshire, was the father of General George Henry Vansittart (1768-'824) and of Vice-Admiral Henry Vansittart (1777-1843). VAN'T HOFF, JACOBUS HENDRICUS (1852- ), Dutch chemist and physicist, was born in Rotterdam on the 3oth of August 1852. He studied from 1869 to 1871 at the polytechnic at Delft, in 1871 at the university of Leiden, in 1872 with F. A. Kekule at Bonn, in 1873 with C. A. Wurtz at Paris, and in 1874, when he tcok his doctor's degree, with E. Mulder at Utrecht. In 1876 he became lecturer on physics at the veterinary school at Utrecht, and two years later he was chosen professor of chemistry, mineralogy and geology in Amsterdam University. In 1894 he declined an invitation to the chair of physics at Berlin University, but in 1896 he went to Berlin as professor to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, with a salary and a laboratory, but freedom to do whatever he liked; and at the same time he accepted an honorary professorship in the university so that he might lecture if he were so minded. On taking up these appointments he announced that, the application of mathematics to chemistry remaining his chief aim, he proposed to devote himself to the study of the formation of oceanic salt deposits, with special reference to the Stassfurt deposits. He may be regarded as the founder of the doctrine of stereoisornerism (q.v.), for he was the first, in 1874, to intro-duce a, definite mechanical theory of valency,. and to connect the optical activity exhibited by many carbon compounds with their chemical constitution. In respect of this doctrine of the " asymmetric carbon atom," van't Hoff's name is generally linked with that of J. A. le Bel (born on the 21st of January 1847, at Pechelbronn, Lower Alsace), who, only two months later, independently enunciated the theory of asymmetric combinations with carbon; though it must be noted that J. Wislicenus, to whom van't Hoff, in fact, acknowledged his indebtedness, had already suggested that in order to explain the constitution of certain organic bodies, the tridimensional arrangement of atoms in space must be taken into account. For this work van't Hoff and Le Bel received the Davy medal jointly from the Royal Society in 1893. From 1874 to 1884 van't Hoff's attention was mainly given to the law of mass-action, and he established the theorem known by his name, which connects quantitative displacement of equilibrium with change of temperature. From 1885 to 1895 he was engaged on the theory of solutions, and developing the analogy between dilute solutions and gases he showed that the osmotic pressure of a solution has the same value as the pressure that solute would exert if it were contained as a gas in the same volume as is occupied by the solution. From 1885 he published the Zeitschrift fur physikalische Chemie, in collaboration with Professor W. Ostwald of Leipzig.
End of Article: HENRY VANSITTART (1732-1770 or 1771)

Additional information and Comments

Henry Vansittart was friendly with Samuel Enderby II,''oil & St. Petersburg merchant'' meaning he owned Whaling Ships and traded with the Muscovy Company in St Petersburg. The families were friends after the sinking of the Aurora, Henry's wife named Emelia (maiden name Morse, family Governors of the East India Company) must have invested money in whaling, the First Whaler to go around the Cape Horn was Enderby ship Emelia, Captained by an American Shields;Harpoonist was also American. Emelia claimed the 800pound bonus from the British Government for so doing.(the following year Enderby ship Friendship captained by American Thomas Melville grandfather of Herman Melville author of Moby Dick, claimed the second bonus of 700 pounds for so doing. Henry's son Henry built the Enderby wharf on the Thames near Greenwich as well as the Enderby cottages for their retired seamen. Another son Nicholas Vansittart was Chancellor of the Exchequer for 12 years.Vansittart island in Bass Straight was named by Enderby whalers for the family.Keith Dawson.
The note that the captain of the Friendship was Herman Melville's Grand father is incorrect, allthough of the same name and spelling of Melvill the captain was a Londoner who it is said was born in Scotland. He settled in Cape Town. I am told by the Americans that their Thomas Melvill although Boston Harbour Master, he had never been to sea. KEITH R. DAWSON
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