Andrew Jeffrey Gunion Barclay


Born: 1849 in Hawick, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Died: 15 September 1943 in London, England


Andrew Jeffrey Gunion Barclay's father was George Barclay (born in Dumfrieshire about 1808) who was a toll-keeper, farmer and baker. His mother was Jane Barclay (born in Dumfrieshire about 1809). He had five older siblings: Janet (born about 1834), Francis (born about 1837), John (born about 1839), David (born about 1841) and Margaret (born about 1844). He married Janet Barclay from Shotts, Lanarkshire. They had a son George Barclay who was born about 1878.

Andrew Barclay was for many years well known in the teaching profession in Scotland. Barclay was a pupil at Hawick Parish School for nine years before matriculating as a student at the University of Edinburgh in 1871. He was awarded an M.A. in 1880. He specialised in mathematics and, after graduating, taught for a period in George Watson's College, Edinburgh. During this period he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 4 January 1886. He was proposed for the fellowship by Alexander Crum Brown, John Sturgeon Mackay, George Chrystal, and Sir Thomas Muir. He moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1892 when he was appointed to the teaching staff of Glasgow High School.

Barclay was prominent in the Glasgow and West of Scotland Branch of the Teachers' Guild and, for example, in December 1899 he chaired a meeting of the Guild in the Christian Institute, Bothwell Street, Glasgow. He retired from the post of head mathematical master in 1914 shortly before the start of World War I, and was made a Justice of the Peace for Glasgow in November of that year. Later he went to reside with a son, a chartered accountant, who lived in London. In 1936 the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh sent him their felicitations on his continuous membership of the Society for fifty years.

The Edinburgh Mathematical Society was founded in February 1883 and it was Barclay together with Alexander Yule Fraser, also a mathematics master at George Watson's College at the time, together with Cargill Gilston Knott, an Assistant to the Professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh University, who issued a circular 'to gentlemen in Edinburgh, in Cambridge and throughout Scotland generally whom they deemed likely to take an interest in such a Society' calling for a Mathematical Society to be set up. The circular read as follows:

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY,
JANUARY
23, 1883.

Dear Sir,

We, the undersigned, beg to call your attention to the following proposal, in the hope that you will find it in your power to give it your support:-

It is proposed to establish, primarily in connection with the University, a Society for the mutual improvement of its members in the Mathematical Sciences, pure and applied.

Amongst the methods by which this object might be attained may be mentioned: Reviews of works both British and Foreign, historical notes, discussion of new problems or new solutions, and comparison of the various systems of teaching in different countries, or any other means tending to the promotion of mathematical Education.

It is suggested that the Society be formed, in the first instance, of all those who shall give in their names on or before February 2, 1883, and who are (1) present or former students in either of the Advanced Mathematical Classes of Edinburgh University, (2) Honours Graduates in any of the British Universities, or (3) recognised Teachers of Mathematics; and that, after the above mentioned date, members be nominated and elected by ballot in the usual manner.

It may be added that Professors Tait and Chrystal have expressed themselves as highly favourable to the project, as one that may lead to important results.

If there are any of your friends who might take an interest in the Society, kindly inform them of its objects, and invite them to attend the Preliminary Meeting, to be held in the MATHEMATICAL CLASS ROOM here, on Friday, February 2,1883, at Eight p.m., at which meeting your presence is respectively requested.

We are,

Yours faithfully,

CARGILL G. KNOTT, D.Sc.(Edin.), F.R.S.E.
A. J. G. BARCLAY, M.A.
(Edin.).
A. Y. FRASER, M.A.
(Aberdeen).

Barclay became a founder member of the Society and was the third President of the Society in 1884.

He died on Wednesday 15 September 1943 in his 95th year. The following announcement of his death appeared in the Press:-

Barclay. At 14 Alvanley Court, Finchley Road, LONDON, N.W.3, on 15th September 1945. ANDREW JEFFREY GUNION BARCLAY, late of Watson's College, Edinburgh, and Glasgow High School, in his 95th year. Funeral at Thorpeness, Suffolk, today (Friday), 17th September, at 2.30. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation.
The following obituary was published by The Scotsman:-
Educational News
Death of Former Watson's College Teacher

The death occurred in London on Wednesday of Mr Andrew Jeffrey Gunion Barclay, who was for many years well known in the teaching profession in Scotland. Mr Barclay, who specialised in mathematics, taught for a period in George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and afterwards, from 1892, in Glasgow High School, retiring from the post of head mathematical master shortly before the last war, when he went to reside with a son, a chartered accountant, in London. He was in his 95th year. A keen golfer, he was a former captain of Western Gailes club.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

November 2007
MacTutor History of Mathematics
[http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Barclay.html]