Fifty years of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society

The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society was celebrated on Friday 3 February 1933. We give two reports, the first as given in the minutes of the Society, the second as reported in The Scotsman.

Minutes of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society.
Jubilee Dinner

A dinner was held at 7.15 p.m. on Friday, 3rd February, 1933, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Society, at the Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh. The Chair was occupied by the President, Dr William Peddie (Professor of Physics at University College, Dundee), one of the original members.

After the meal the toast of "The King" was proposed by the President, who then announced that apologies for absence had been received from Principal Sir Thomas Holland, F.R.S., Professor C G Darwin, Professor J E A Steggall, Dr and Mrs Stanley Robertson, Mr R P Hardie, Dr J A Third and Dr and Mrs Carse.

Proposing the toast of "The Founders of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society," Professor D'Arcy W Thompson, F.R.S., read extracts from a letter he had received from Mr A J G Barclay, the only surviving member of the original group of founders. He paid high tributes to the memory of Dr Cargill G Knott and Mr A Y Fraser, who with Mr Barclay had been most active in the formation of the Society in 1883, and gave reminiscences of his old friend and teacher Dr John Sturgeon Mackay, first President of the Society.

The toast was responded to by Mr David Kennedy Fraser (son of the late Mr A Y Fraser) and Miss Knott (daughter of the late Dr Knott).

Between the toasts Handel's Sonata in E was played by Mr W L Edge (piano) and Dr A C Aitken (violin). The evening concluded with the playing of Pugnani's Minuetto and Mistowski's Hornpipe by Prof. H W Turnbull (piano) and Dr A C Aitken.

The official guests were:

Professor D'Arcy W Thompson, Professor R A Sampson (Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh), and Dr James Robb (Secretary of the Carnegie Trust). The others present, in addition to the President, were:-

Dr A C Aitken (Editor of "Mathematical Notes"), Dr John Alison, Dr F Bath, Dr T P Black, Mr J T Brown, Mr A Buchan, Mr John W Butters, Dr J T Campbell, Dr J B Clark, Dr E T Copson (co-editor of "Proceedings"), Mrs C G Darwin, Mr and Mrs E G Dymond, Mr W L Edge, Mr and Mrs Kennedy Fraser, Mr J D Fulton, Mr David Gibb (Hon. Librarian) and Mrs Gibb, Dr R P Gillespie, Mr P G Gormley, Mr J A Hardie, Dr E M Horsburgh, Miss Knott, Dr G J Lidstone, Mr J B Lockhart (Hon. treasurer) and Mrs Lockhart, Mr C H Lott, Rev. A M Macleod, Dr Alex. Morgan, Mr Frank Murray, Mr J H Ogilvie, Mr R A Robb (Vice-President), Dr H S Ruse (Hon. Secretary), Mr A D Russell, Dr D E Rutherford, Dr R Schlapp, Dr G Timms, Professor H W Turnbull, F.R.S., (co-Editor of "Proceedings"), Mr A G Walker, Mr K K Weatherhead, Professor E T Whittaker, F.R.S., and Mrs Whittaker, Mr A W Young and Mr Zia ud Din.

The following report was published in The Scotsman on the following day:

Jubilee Celebration Dinner.

A dinner was held last night at the Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. In January 1883 a circular letter was sent to Scottish mathematicians by the late Dr C G Knott, a Lecturer of the University of Edinburgh; Mr A J G Barclay, Glasgow High School; and Mr A Y Fraser, George Watson's College, Edinburgh, proposing that a Society should be established for the advancement of mathematical science in Scotland. "It may be added," said the letter, "that Professors Chrystal and Tait have expressed themselves as highly favourable to the project, as one that may lead to important results."

In the following month the first meeting was held and the Society formally constituted, Dr John S Mackay, a master at Edinburgh Academy, being elected president. During the first session Sir William Thomson, afterwards Lord Kelvin, Professors Chrystal, Tait, and Niven, Aberdeen, were elected honorary members. One of the ordinary members was the present president of the Society Mr William Peddie, who at that time was a Lecturer in Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and is now Professor of Physics at University College, Dundee.

The subsequent development of the Society has fully justified the hope that its establishment might lead to important results. During the session 1884-85 it was resolved to publish a periodical, The Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, containing an account of the Mathematical research performed by the members. Later a smaller periodical, Mathematical Notes, was instituted for the publication of original mathematical work of a less specialised character. The former of these now ranks high among the principal scientific journals of the world, being distributed in every country in which mathematical research is performed. Moreover, the membership has so extended that there are few civilised countries which do not contain members of the Society.

In spite, however, of its international character, the Society remains peculiarly Scottish in its activities, and sets an example to similar bodies south of the Tweed by holding attractive and well-attended meetings in Edinburgh and elsewhere for the delivery of lectures on topics of scientific and educational interest. Moreover, it is unique among British Mathematical or physical societies in that it organises colloquia, every few years in St Andrews or Edinburgh, thus providing a medium for the exchange of ideas and an opportunity to mathematicians to form friendships with others of similar interests.

At last night's dinner the chair was occupied by the president. The toast of "The Founders" was proposed by Professor D'Arcy W Thompson, F.R.S., and was responded to by Mr David Kennedy Fraser and Miss Knott.

Others present included Mr R A Robb, vice-president; Dr James Robb, secretary of the Carnegie Trust; Professor R A Sampson, F.R.S., secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; Professor E T Whittaker, F.R.S., and Mrs Whittaker; Professor H W Turnbull, F.R.S.; Mrs C G Darwin, Dr T B Clark, Dr G J Lidstone, and Dr J Alison.

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