Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) was one of the foremost scientists of his age, working in chemistry, physics, mechanics, heat, electricity and meteorology. He established the composition of water and is most remembered for being the 'man who weighed the earth'. His original experiments and findings, many of which were unpublished during his lifetime, were of far reaching importance. Henry Cavendish had amassed a great working library of 12,000 scientific books which on his death passed to Lord John Cavendish, the son of his cousin - who in turn presented it to his nephew the 6th Duke of Devonshire.
Henry Cavendish's White Book, (1786-1799) is the only notebook of his known to survive. It is devoted to chemical experiments on specimens of inorganic materials, the fruit of several geological tours between 1785 and 1793. The extent of these can be suggested by materials involved: whitish sparkling ore from Hudson Bay, a native iron from Mexico, earth from the Isle of Man, lava from Mount Vesuvius, limestone, chalk, clay, and mica, many of them also derived from his work with contemporary industrial processes.