|Intro||British forensic scientist|
|A.K.A.||William James Herschel, Sir William James Herschel, 2nd Baronet|
|Was||Magistrate Biologist Scientist Physiologist|
|Field||Biology Law Science|
|Birth||9 January 1833, Slough, United Kingdom|
|Death||24 October 1917, Hawkhurst, United Kingdom (aged 84 years)|
Sir William James Herschel, 2nd Baronet (9 January 1833 – 24 October 1917) was a British ICS officer in India who used fingerprints for identification on contracts.
He was born in Slough in Buckinghamshire (now Berkshire), the third child (of twelve) and the eldest son (of three) of the astronomer, John Herschel. His younger brothers were Alexander Stewart Herschel and John Herschel the Younger.
On 19 May 1864 he married (Anne) Emma Haldane, youngest daughter of Alfred Hardcastle of Hatcham House, Surrey. She died at the birth of their second son, having borne him 4 children:
- Margaret Eliza Emma Herschel (1865-1880)
- Emma Dorothea Herschel (1867-1954)
- Reverend Sir John Charles William Herschel, 3rd Baronet (1869 - 1950)
- Arthur Edward Hardcastle Herschel (1873-1924)
He lived at Warfield in Berkshire. Upon his death the baronetcy passed to his son.
Herschel is credited with being the first European to note the value of fingerprints for identification. He recognized that fingerprints were unique and permanent. Herschel documented his own fingerprints over his lifetime to prove permanence. He was also credited with being the first person to use fingerprints in a practical manner. As early as the 1850s, working as a British officer for the Indian Civil Service in the Bengal region of India, he started putting fingerprints on contracts.