Aberdeen

At one time there were two universities here (Marischal College and King's College) -- as many as in all England. They merged in 1860 and had to dismiss duplicate professors. One of the professors of natural philosophy, since 1856, was James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), who was released, supposedly on the grounds that he could get another job while the other professor couldn't. The other man was Faraday's nephew David Thomson, a capable teacher and senior to Maxwell, so perhaps there were other reasons for the decision. In 1858 Maxwell married Katherine Mary Dewar, daughter of the Principal of Marischal College.

James Gregory (or Gregorie) (1638-1675) was born at the Manse of Drumoak, 11 miles from Aberdeen. He was a student at Aberdeen Grammar School and Marischal College. He developed the idea of the Gregorian reflecting telecope here, describing it in his Optica promota (1663), but could not get one made, even in London.

His nephew David Gregory (1659-1708) was born in Upper Kirkgate, Aberdeen. He studied at Aberdeen Grammar School and went to Marischal College at age 12, being there 1671-1675, though there is no evidence of his taking a degree. [There will be more Gregory under Edinburgh, Oxford, Maidenhead and St Andrews!]

Colin Maclaurin (1698-1746) was appointed professor of mathematics at Marischal College in 1717, at the age of 19. Sir Edward Wright told me that Maclaurin never took up the post, but Tweedie's biography shows that he taught diligently until 1722 when he accompanied a Mr Hume (the son of Lord Polwarth) on a European tour for the long vacation which was extended for three years, though he didn't request leave from the University. Hume died and Maclaurin returned about the turn of 1724/1725 and was reinstated in April 1725. However, later that year he accepted a post in Edinburgh, moving there in November 1725. In Jan 1726, his chair at Aberdeen was declared vacant and he resigned from it.

G. P. Thomson (1892- ) was professor of natural philosophy 1922-1930, during which time he demonstrated the wave diffraction of electrons (1927), for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1937.

E. M. (Sir Edward) Wright (of 'Hardy and Wright') was professor and Principal of the University for many years until his retirement in the 1970s.


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