Casey, John

(1820-1891), mathematician

by E. I. Carlyle, rev. Julia Tompson

© Oxford University Press 2004 All rights reserved

Casey, John (1820-1891), mathematician, was born at Kilkenny, in May 1820, the son of William Casey. Educated at first in a small school in his native village, and afterwards at Mitchelstown, he became a teacher under the board of national education in various schools, and ultimately headmaster of the central model schools, Kilkenny. After he succeeded in solving Poncelet's theorem geometrically, he entered into correspondence with George Salmon (fellow of Trinity College, Dublin) and Richard Townsend (1821-1884). At Townsend's suggestion he entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1858, obtaining a sizarship in 1859 and a scholarship in 1861, and graduating BA in 1862. From 1862 until 1873 he was mathematics master in Kingstown School. On 14 May 1866 he was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and in March 1880 became a member of its council. In 1869 he received from Dublin University the honorary degree of LLD. In 1873 he was offered a professorship of mathematics at Trinity College, but he chose instead to accept the professorship of higher mathematics and mathematical physics in the Catholic University at St Stephen's Green, Dublin. He was elected a member of the London Mathematical Society on 12 November 1874, a fellow of the Royal Society of London on 3 June 1875, a member of the Société Scientifique de Bruxelles in 1878 and of the Société Mathématique de France in 1884, and received the honorary degree of LLD from the Royal University of Ireland in 1885.

In 1881 Casey relinquished his post in the (then partially defunct) Catholic University, and was elected to a fellowship in the new Royal University of Ireland and to a lectureship in mathematics in what was now the University College, St Stephen's Green, which he retained until his death. In the same year he began a series of mathematical textbooks, which had a high reputation. His own research was chiefly confined to two-dimensional geometry, a subject in which he showed great ability. The Italian geometer Cremona spoke with admiration of the elegance and mastery with which he handled difficult and intricate questions. He was largely self-taught, but widened his knowledge by an extensive correspondence with mathematicians in various parts of Europe. His eighteen published papers, almost all dealing with geometry, appeared between 1861 and 1880. From 1862 to 1868 he was one of the editors of the Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin Messenger of Mathematics, and for several years was Dublin correspondent of the Jahrbuch über die Fortschritte der Mathematik. He died at home at 86 Iona Terrace, South Circular Road, Dublin, on 3 January 1891.

E. I. CARLYLE, rev. JULIA TOMPSON

Sources  
PRS, 49 (1890-91), xxiv-xxv
private information (1901)
CGPLA Ire. (1891)

Wealth at death  
£8037 10s.: probate, 6 Feb 1891, CGPLA Ire.


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