He was born Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in Hanover, Germany, as one of ten children (of whom four died very young), of Isaac Herschel (1707-1767) a member of the Hanover Military Band. Although Isaac was of Jewish birth, his wife was Christian and the children were raised as Christians. In 1755 the Hanoverian Guards regiment, in whose band William and his brother Jacob were engaged, was ordered to England. At the time, the crowns of England and Hanover were united under George II. He learned English quickly and, at age nineteen, he changed his name to Frederick William Herschel.
"Herschel's pioneering work in astronomy was motivated by his belief in God as the Creator and the author of all natural laws." -Jeffrey Donley, Ph.D.