Cargill Gilston Knott

Quick Info

30 June 1856
Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland
26 October 1922
Edinburgh, Scotland

Cargill Knott became a Reader in Applied Mathematics at Edinburgh University. With Barclay and Fraser he was one of the writers who originally proposed the founding of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society.


Cargill Knott's father was Pelham Knott (born in Aberdeen about 1819) who was an agent for a paper manufacturer. His mother was Ellen McS Knott (born about 1818). Cargill Knott had two older brothers John (born about 1850) and Tavernor (born about 1852). He had two younger siblings, Jabez (born about 1858) and Elizabeth (born about 1860). In 1861 the family were living in West Derby in England.

Cargill Knott was educated at the High School in Arbroath, Angus, then studied at the University of Edinburgh. He was appointed as an Assistant in Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University in 1879 and held this post until 1883. He then went to Japan where he was appointed as Professor of Physics at the Imperial University, Tokyo. He held this position from 1883 to 1891 when he returned to Edinburgh to become a Lecturer in Physics. He then became a Reader in Applied Mathematics at Edinburgh University, holding this post until his death.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 1 March 1880 having been proposed by Peter Guthrie Tait, Alexander Crum Brown, John Gray M'Kendrick, Alexander Buchan. He served on the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1894 to 1897, from 1898 to 1901, and for a third time from 1902 to 1905. He was Secretary to Ordinary Meetings 1905-12, and General Secretary of the Society 1912-22. The Society awarded him their Keith Prize for 1893-5.

Knott was an active member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. In conjunction with two mathematical masters at George Watson's College in Edinburgh, Alexander Yule Fraser and Andrew Jeffrey Gunion Barclay, Knott who was then Assistant to the Professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh University, issued the circular setting up the Society. He took the chair at the first meeting of the Society on Friday, 2nd February 1883. He was the first Secretary of the Society in 1883 and also the first Treasurer in 1883. He was elected President of the Society in 1893-94 and again in 1918-1919.

An obituary by Archibald Milne, was published in the Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. You can see it at THIS LINK.

He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1920 and was a member of the Scottish Meteorological Society, serving the Society as President. He was honoured by the University of St Andrews when he was awarded an honorary LL.D.

Knott was married to Mary Dixon in 1885. Mary's brother, James Main Dixon (1856-1933) was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

References (show)

  1. A D D Craik, Science and technology in 19th century Japan: The Scottish connection, Fluid Dynamics Research 39 (2007), 24-48
  2. A Milne, Cargill G Knott, D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.S., Proc. Edinburgh Math. Soc. 40 (1921-22), 50-51.

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Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update August 2007