Cambridge Individuals

  • John Couch Adams (1819-1892) entered St John's as a student in 1839, Senior Wrangler, and continued as a Fellow in 1843-1852, and later a Fellow of Pembroke from 1853. Lowndean Professor, 1858-1892, and University Observer, 1861-1892, living in the Observatory, where he died. The University's Adams Prize was founded to commemorate him in 1847. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground. St John's has a bust and a portrait; Pembroke has a portrait.
  • George Biddell Airy (1801-1892) was a student and a Fellow of Trinity. He was Senior Wrangler in 1823. Lucasian Professor, 1826-1828. As Plumian Professor (1828-1835), he headed the new Cambridge Observatory so well that he was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1835. There is a portrait in the Observatory.
  • Apostles -- The famous, even notorious, Cambridge student group called The Apostles usually drew its membership from the arts and literature, but literate scientists have often been members--e.g. G.H. Hardy, J. M. Keynes, J. C. Maxwell, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead.
  • Michael Atiyah (1929- ) was a student at Trinity, then a Fellow of Pembroke and became Master of Trinity in 1990.
  • Charles Babbage (1791-1871) entered Trinity in April 1810 as a bye-term student, hence practically in the same year as George Peacock and John Herschel. There is a story that he was sure both Herschel and Peacock would do better in the Tripos, so he migrated to Peterhouse in 1813 and entered for a poll degree so as to be first at Peterhouse and first in his degree--but more recent research shows this is incorrect: he was examined in a different year to the others, he migrated in 1812, before he met Herschel, and he was so disillusioned with the system that he is not even on the Honours list for 1814. He probably migrated because Peterhouse would give him more time to pursue his own interests. In 1828, he was elected Lucasian professor, though he hadn't applied for it. He resigned the chair in 1839, having never resided nor lectured. A new lecture theatre has been named after him.
  • Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was at Trinity which has a contemporary portrait of him in the Hall.
  • H. F. Baker (1866-1956) was born in Cambridge and was a student and a fellow of St John's. Senior wrangler 1887, Lowndean professor 1914-1939. His house at 3 Storey's Way was the site of the geometry seminar known as 'Baker's tea party'.
  • Robert Stawell Ball (1840-1913) was a Fellow of King's, Lowndean Professor (1892-1914), Director of the Observatory. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • W. W. Rouse Ball (1850-1925) was a student of Trinity, being second wrangler and first Smith's prizeman in 1874. Fellow, then a lecturer at Trinity from 1878 to 1905, holding many administrative offices. He built Elmside, at 20 (now 49) Grange Road, now a part of Clare Hall, across from Robinson College. He died in the house and is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground. He had a maze in his garden. Clare Hall has no memory of the maze--but Coxeter has written me that it was not very permanent, being made of posts and strings.
  • Ernest William Barnes (1874-1953) was a student at Trinity, second wrangler in 1896, then a fellow at Trinity from 1898, when he was first Smith's prizeman. He was Littlewood's supervisor. In 1917, he went into the church, eventually becoming Bishop of Birmingham in 1924.
  • Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) entered Peterhouse in 1643, but then transferred to Trinity for 1644-48, where he became a fellow in 1649, but was chased out of the country in 1655 (or travelled because he had not become Professor of Greek). He returned in 1659 and was appointed professor of Greek in 1660, then Gresham professor (in London) in 1662-1664 and first Lucasian professor in 1664 until 1669. He was a chaplain to the king. Later he was master of Trinity in 1672-1677--the king said "I am giving it to the best scholar in England." In 1675, he decided to have a library added and persuaded Wren to design it for free. He was vice-chancellor for a time from 1675. There is a bust and a portrait in the Wren Library--also his coat of arms, carved by Grinling Gibbons.
  • Francis Bashforth (1819-1912), inventor of the Bashforth chronograph, was second wrangler in 1843. A fellow of St John's, he was professor of applied mathematics at Woolwich 1864-1872.
  • Harry Bateman (1882-1946) was a student at Trinity and senior wrangler in 1903. From 1910 he lived in the USA, where from 1917 he was professor of mathematics at what became CalTech.
  • Richard Bentley (1662-1742) was a student at St John's to 1682. In 1692-1693, he delivered the first series of eight Boyle Lectures, established by the will of Robert Boyle for proving the Christian Religion. Bentley's topic was the confutation of atheism. In his last three lectures, he gives the first popular exposition of Newton's system as an argument for the existence of the Creator. Bentley corresponded with Newton on this question and Newton wrote four letters, published in 1747. Bentley was master of Trinity from 1699 and strongly promoted mathematics, building Cotes' observatory in 1706 and organizing the 2nd edition of Newton's Principia in 1713. Bentley apparently introduced written exam papers in 1702; Ball can find no earlier examples in Europe. Bentley was not a popular character--although responsible for much of the building at Trinity, he was twice voted out of the mastership by the fellows, but managed to retain the post and die in office. The fellows had some revenge by burying him under a plain slab in the Chapel.
  • A. S. Besicovich (1891-1970), Rouse Ball professor 1950-1958, came to Trinity in 1927, and remained to the end of his life.
  • Henry Billingsley (d. 1606), first translator of Euclid into English (1570), was a student at St John's in 1551 and later donated three scholarships.
  • P. M. S. Blackett (1897- 1974) was at Magdalene.
  • Thomas Blundeville was a student, possibly non-collegiate, c1545, and later wrote the first English book using trigonometry.
  • Hermann Bondi was master of Churchill until 1990?
  • William Henry Bragg (1862-1942) was a student at Trinity, and third wrangler 1884 .
  • William Lawrence Bragg (1890-1971) was a student at Trinity, when he invented the Bragg equation, c1912. He shared the Nobel Prize with his father W. H. Bragg in 1915.
  • Bewick Bridge (1767-1833) entered St Peter's College (??) and was senior wrangler in 1790.
  • Henry Briggs (1561-1630) was a student at St John's in 1579-1581, a fellow and then examiner and lecturer in 1592-1596.
  • Edward ffrench Bromhead (1789-1855) was a student at Caius to 1812. He suggested the formation of the Analytic Society. He later sponsored Green and befriended Boole.
  • John Charles Burkill (1900-1993), was a student at Trinity, fellow in 1922 and Smith's prizeman in 1923. After five years at Liverpool, he returned to Peterhouse in 1929, eventually becoming university reader in mathematical analysis, Adams prizeman in 1949 and master of Peterhouse in 1968-1973, when the college modified its age rules in order to elect him.
  • William Burnside (1852-1927) was a student at St John's (1871-1873), then Pembroke (1873-1875), second wrangler and first Smith's prizeman in 1875. He was a fellow of Pembroke to 1886. He declined the mastership of Pembroke offered to him after Stokes's death in 1903.
  • John Caius (1510-1573), the re-founder of Gonville and Caius, was a student at Gonville Hall from 1529 and came in first on the Examination list of 1522--so he was an early version of a senior wrangler. Fellow of Gonville in 1533. After becoming a successful physician in London, he re-founded the college in 1557 and became Master in 1559. He is buried in the Chapel of the College. Shakespeare has a Doctor Caius in his Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • George Shoobridge Carr (1837-??), author of A synopsis of elementary results in pure and applied mathematics (1880 & 1886), was a private tutor in London and decided to get further education. He entered Caius in 1875, receiving his BA in 1880 and MA in 1883(?).
  • Mary Lucy Cartwright (1900- ) was an Oxford graduate who came to research at Girton in 1930, eventually becoming Mistress from 1949 to her retirement in 1969 (or 1968) as well as reader in the theory of functions, 1959-1968.
  • Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) was a student at Peterhouse from 1749 to 1753, but as a fellow-commoner (i.e. of some noble status), he did not take a degree. His measurement of the universal gravitational constant G was based on an idea and device of John Michell, whom he may have met while at Cambridge. This work is described under London and Thornhill. Cavendish was a cousin of the Dukes of Devonshire, one of whom was Chancellor of the University and later founded the Cavendish Laboratory in his memory. J. Clerk Maxwell was the first Cavendish Professor and edited Cavendish's works.
  • Arthur Cayley (1821-1895) was a student at Trinity, senior wrangler in 1842. He lived at Garden House, now the Garden House Hotel, though the part where he lived burnt down some years ago. The hotel has a Cayley Suite. He is buried in Mill Road Cemetery. In 1912, members of the ICM placed a wreath on the grave. C. G. Darwin commented: "This has touched the hearts of our University" and arrangements were made for a permanent silver wreath. I don't know if this was ever carried out. Tony Crilly reports that the grave has been vandalised. Could the mathematics department put up a suitable monument??
  • James Chadwick (1891-1974) worked at the Cavendish from 1920 to 1935 and was Master of Gonville & Caius, 1948-1958. Nobel prize 1935, for discovering the neutron. Caius has just installed a modern stained glass window in the Hall commemorating him with a diagram of a nuclear reaction, alongside the Green and Venn windows.
  • James Challis (1803-1882) was a student at Trinity, senior wrangler in 1825. Plumian Professor, 1836-1882. He is remembered for not following up Adams' prediction of Neptune.
  • Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1911-1995) was a student and then a fellow at Trinity in 1930-1937. He came to the Cavendish Laboratory, hoping to work with Eddington, but worked with Dirac and Fowler until 1935. It was on the long voyage to England that he worked out the behaviour of collapsing stars. He developed his ideas at Cambridge, laying the foundations for red giants, neutron stars, quasars and black holes. He presented the ideas at a Royal Astronomical Society meeting in Jan 1935, but Eddington and others were incredulous. It was 33 years before the discovery of pulsars and the recognition that they were neutron stars verified his predictions, leading to the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983. He returned to India in 1936 and then went to Chicago.
  • Grace Chisholm (1868-1944) was at Girton (equivalent to a wrangler, 1892), where W. H. Young coached her for a term, but their attachment occurred later; they married in 1896.
  • George Chrystal (1851-1911) was a student at Peterhouse.
  • Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) was the first to publicly defend a Newtonian proposition, in 1694. He was a student at Caius to 1695. c1697, he produced the first Newtonian textbook by annotating Rohault's Physics. In 1706, he translated Newton's Opticks into Latin. On Newton's death, he was offered the Mastership of the Mint, but declined.
  • William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) was a student at Trinity from 1863, second wrangler and then a fellow. However, he lost his faith and left for a chair at University College London in 1871.
  • John Douglas Cockcroft (1897-1967) was a student at St John's and later first Master of Churchill College from 1959.
  • John William Colenso (1814-1883) entered St John's as a sizar in 1832, where he was assisted by scholarships and by the famous tutor John Hymers. Second wrangler and cecond Smith's prizeman in 1836, fellow in 1837. In 1839, he went to teach at Harrow, then returned to St John's as a tutor in 1841, occupying A10, New Court. He was already a popular preacher. He married c.1850 and went to Norfolk. He was appointed Bishop of Natal in 1853, but his Examinations of the Pentateuch were so radical that he was deposed, c.1862. He was author of several popular mathematics textbooks for schools, which can still be obtained second hand--I have three copies.
  • John Colson (1680-1760) was a schoolmaster when Robert Smith invited him to Cambridge, where he stayed in Sidney Sussex. He then entered Emmanuel, obtaining an MA in 1728. In 1736, he edited and published Newton's original paper on fluxions. In 1739, he was elected to replace Sanderson as Lucasian professor. De Moivre was the other candidate, but was aged and Smith opted for Colson, who turned out to be a disappointment. Colson is perhaps best known as the inventor, in 1726, of the number system which uses negative and positive digits.
  • Leslie John Comrie (1893-1950), the New Zealand-born pioneer of computational science, was a graduate student at St John's.
  • Captain James Cook (1728-1779) "one of the most celebrated navigators that this, or former ages can boast of" and his family are commemorated by a tablet in St Andrew the Great. One of his sons, Hugh, was a student at Christ's College in 1782 when he died of scarlet fever at age 17 and was buried in the previous church on the site. Mrs Cook and her only surviving son, also James, came to the funeral. This James was drowned 35 days later and buried in the same grave. Mrs Cook survived until 1835 and then was buried here.
  • Roger Cotes (1682-1716) was a student at Trinity in 1699-1703 and a fellow from 1705. First Plumian professor in 1707. Got an observatory built over the Great Gate, which was removed in 1797. Edited second edition of Newton's Principia, 1713.
  • Richard Courant was here for some time in the 1930s before going to the US.
  • John Craig was at Cambridge, c1680-1708, but seems to have never taken a degree. He was an expositor of Newton's works as well as a competent mathematician. He is perhaps most famous for his Mathematical principles of christian theology, based on the axiom that the credibility of a story diminishes as the square of the elapsed time.
  • The Darwin family owned The Old Granary and Newnham Grange, large Victorian houses facing the Mill Pond, west of the Silver Street bridge. Sir George Darwin bought these in the 1880s. In 1965, these were combined with another house to form Darwin College, the first college for graduate students.
  • Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the naturalist and ancestor of several eminent Cambridge scientists, was a student at Christ's College in 1828-1831, living just above the doorway of G staircase, Front Court, St Andrew's Street.
  • His son Sir George Howard Darwin (1845-1912) was at Trinity and was Plumian Professor (1883-1912). His daughter Gwen Raverat wrote a delightful memoir of her upbringing called Period Piece ...
  • ... and his son Charles Galton Darwin (1887-1962) was Master of Christ's College, 1936-1938. There is a monument to him in St Botolph's Church.
  • Charles Darwin's youngest son Horace Darwin (1851-1928) was a Fellow of Trinity and founded the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company. He lived at 'The Orchard', Huntingdon Road. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • Harold Davenport came to Trinity in 1927 for his second BA, obtaining a wranglership and a distinction in 1929. Fellow of Trinity in 1932-1937. Rouse Ball Professor 1958-1969. Bombieri worked with him in part of 1963 and 1964, leading to his large sieve in 1965. John Conway, Alan Baker and H. L. Montgomery were students of Davenport's.
  • Augustus De Morgan was a student at Trinity from 1823-1827, graduating Fourth Wrangler.
  • John Dee (1527-1608) was at St John's as a student, then a Fellow, in 1542-1546, being a foundation Fellow in 1546, and then was an original Fellow of Trinity from 1546 to 1548. When he departed, he left Trinity his instruments. A history of St John's says Dee was assistant Greek reader at St John's but "is better known to posterity by his reform of the Julian Calendar" - an assertion which seems odd since England refused to adopt the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 and only adopted it in 1752.
  • Thomas Digges was a student at Queens' in 1546-1551. He studied under Dee and wrote the first English books using spherical trigonometry. In 1571, he gave the first description of the telescope and theodolite invented by his father, Leonard Digges, c1550 or 1570.
  • P. A. M. Dirac came to Cambridge as a postgraduate in 1923. He became a Fellow of St John's in 1927 and lived in New Court A4, later in Second Court C4. He was Lucasian Professor, 1932-1969. Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933, shared with Heisenberg and Schrödinger. Chandrasekhar was a student of his. In 1937, he married and moved to Cavendish Ave., where they lived until his retirement. St John's has two portraits and a bust. There is a bust by Gabriella Bollobas in the Dirac Library of the DAM&TP.
  • Freeman J. Dyson came to Cambridge in 1941.
  • Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) was a student at Trinity, being Senior Wrangler in 1904, then a Fellow of Trinity in 1907 and Smith's Prizeman in 1907. In 1913 he became Plumian Professor and in 1914, Director of the Cambridge Observatory. In 1919, he led the expedition to Prncipe which observed the solar eclipse of 29 May and confirmed Einstein's prediction of the curvature of light. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • Henry Fawcett (1833-1884) did well at mathematics at Trinity Hall, becoming a fellow and studying political economy. He had been blinded by a misdirected shot from his father's gun while a student. In 1867, he married Millicent Garrett who became a noted campaigner for women's education and suffrage. Their daughter is mentioned below. They lived at 18 Brookside. In 1871, Newnham College was planned here. Fawcett became Professor of Political Economy. Liberal MP for Brighton and, in 1880, Postmaster General. There is a memorial in Westminster Abbey, a plaque in Trinity Hall Chapel and a stained glass window in Trumpington Church, where he is buried in the churchyard. There is a Fawcett School in Trumpington.
  • Hobson's pupil, Philippa Fawcett (1870-??), was the best mathematical student in 1890, "above the Senior Wrangler", but was excluded from the rankings because of her sex.
  • Norman Mcleod Ferrars (1829-1903) was a student at Caius from 1847, First Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman in 1851, Fellow in 1852. Returned as mathematical lecturer in 1856. Master of Caius from 1880, dying in the Master's Lodge. There is a memorial tablet in the antechapel of the college. He edited Green's works in 1871.
  • R. A. Fisher (1890-1962) was a scholarship student (1909-1914), Fellow (1920-1926& 1943-1962) and President (1956-1959) of Caius (portrait in the Hall). c1911, he founded the Cambridge University Eugenics Society and in 1911 he already exposited the basic ideasof his 1930 book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection to this Society. In 1912 hepublished his first paper on maximum likelihood. He was Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics in 1943-1957. In 1945, he solved the problem of Rhesus blood types. Following on suggestions from Anthony Edwards, Caius installed a handsome modern stained glass window in the Hall to celebrate his centenary, showing the 7 by 7 Latin square from the dust-jacket ofhis The Design of Experiments of 1935. Six of the colours are those appearing in the Venndiagram just above (see Venn below).
  • John Flamsteed (1646-1719) was at Jesus College from 1670 (or 1672) to 1674, when he received his MA.
  • A. R. Forsyth (1858-1942) was a Fellow of Trinity from 1881 and Sadleirian Professor from 1895 until 1910 when he resigned due to having an affair with a colleague's wife. In 1913, he went to Imperial College, London.
  • William Frend (1757-1841), author of Principles of Algebra (1796), which deniedthe existence of negative numbers, and father-in-law of De Morgan, was a student at Christ's College from 1775, Second Wrangler in 1780, ordained 1781. He was a Fellow and tutor of Jesus College from 1781 but was banned when he turned Unitarian in 1793 or because of his sympathy for the French Revolution or because of his pamphlet Peace and Union. He wasn't deprived of his fellowship, but only refused permission to reside. Another source, quoting Frend's son-in-law De Morgan, says he was deprived of his tutorship and his living in 1788 because of his pamphlet Address to the Inhabitants of Cambridge of 1787 and other actions,that he was tried in 1792 for sedition and opposition to the Liturgy and that he was banished, not expelled, so that he retained his fellowship until his marriage and remained a member ofthe University and the Senate. "That they would have expelled him if they could, is perfectly true...."
  • Otto Frisch was Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Cavendish in the 1960s.
  • Percival Frost was at St John's, then a Fellow at King's. His book Curve Tracing is still interesting.
  • Francis Galton was at Trinity for a year, c1844.
  • William Garnett (1850-1932) entered St John's in 1869, Fifth Wrangler in 1873, demonstrator to Maxwell at the new Cavendish Lab in 1873-1879, Fellow of St John's in 1873. He produced standard textbooks on dynamics, heat, mechanics and trigonometry. In 1882, he co-authored a biography of Maxwell.
  • William Gilbert was at St John's in 1558-1564, Fellow in 1561, MD & senior Fellow in 1569.
  • J. W. L. Glaisher (1848-1928) was a Fellow of Trinity. He left his notable ceramic collection (over 3000 items) to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
  • George Green (1793-1841) entered Caius in 1833 at the age of 40. He was Fourth Wrangler in 1837 and was a Fellow from 1839 until his death in 1841. He lived on the North side of Gonville Court. He left Cambridge in 1839, in poor health. Caius has recently installed a modern stained glass window in the Hall commemorating him with a diagram of Green's theorem (sketched by Paul Glendinning) - similar to the Fisher and Venn windows.
  • Duncan Farquharson Gregory (1813-1844) entered Trinity in 1833, 5th wrangler in 1837, Fellow in 1840, MA in 1841. He was the main founder and first editor of the Cambridge Mathematical Journal.
  • Thomas Gresham was at Gonville & Caius and there is a statue of him on the facade. Cambridge had some hopes but was disappointed when Gresham left his money to found Gresham College in London rather than in Cambridge.
  • J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964) was Reader in Biochemistry, 1922-1932.
  • Marshall Hall Jr spent 1932-1933 at Trinity.
  • Philip Hall was a student at King's, being a Wrangler in 1925. He was a Fellow at King's from 1927.
  • Godfrey Harold Hardy (1877-1947) entered Trinity on a Major Scholarship in 1896, took the Tripos after only two years and was Fourth Wrangler in 1898, BA in 1899, then first in Part II of the Tripos and Fellow of Trinity from 1900. Smith's Prizeman in 1901, MA 1903, Trinity Lecturer in 1905. In his first year as a student, he lived in Whewell's Court, Staircase M, second floor. When he was a Fellow, he first had rooms in Great Court, but later on the second floor of Staircase A, New Court. His lecturing soon led to his A Course of Pure Mathematics of 1908, the first rigorous exposition of analysis in English. It was at his rooms in New Court in late Jan 1913 that he received a letter from an Indian clerk named RAMANUJAN. He went to Oxford in Dec 1919, returning as Sadleirian Professor in 1931 until his retirement in 1942. In this later period he first lived in Whewell's Court, moving in 1933 to Great Court, behind the Clock Tower. At the end of his life, the clock disturbed him at night and the College arranged that it should not strike at night. Hardy refused to enter the Chapel, not even for the election of the Master, and special provision was made for him. See also Littlewood, below.
  • D. R. Hartree(1897-1958) was at St John's and the Cavendish Laboratory, but later became a numerical analyst and Plummer Professor from 1946.
  • John Harvard, eponym of the New World university, was a student at Emmanuel from 1627. There is a tablet near the entrance or the Chapel and a Harvard Room there.
  • Stephen Hawking (1942- ) was a graduate student in Physics. He is a Fellow of Caius (from 1965), which has a recent portrait of him in the Hall.
  • Thomas Little Heath (1861-1940) was a student at Trinity.
  • John Herschel (1792-1871) entered St John's in 1809 and was Senior Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman in 1813 (Peacock was second in both), Fellow in 1813. As a Fellow, his rooms were K3 of the Great Court. The college has a portrait and a bust. He left Cambridge about 1816.
  • E. W. Hobson (1856-1933) was a student, Senior Wrangler and Fellow of Christ's College. There is a portrait in their Combination Room. He tutored Philippa Fawcett and J. M. Keynes.
  • W. V. D. Hodge was at Pembroke.
  • Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin did her PhD here under J. D. Bernal. They carried out the basic experiments that showed that x-ray crystallography of proteins was possible.
  • Thomas Hood was a student at Trinity in 1573-1578, then a Fellow. He wrote several texts and was first Thomas Smith lecturer in London.
  • Jeremiah Horrocks (1619-1641) was a student at Emmanuel in 1632-1635.
  • Fred Hoyle (1915- ) was a student at Cambridge, with Dirac as his thesis supervisor. Coined the term 'Big Bang' in 1950. In the early 1960s, he established the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy and served as the first Director. Knighted, 1972. Resigned due to administrative hassles with the University in 1972. In 1992, the Institute erected a statue of him.
  • John Hymers entered St John's as a sizar in 1822, Second Wrangler in 1826, Fellow in 1827, tutor in 1832. A successful private tutor whose pupils included J. J. Sylvester, William Cavendish (later Duke of Devonshire, Chancellor of the University and founder of the Cavendish Laboratory) and J. W. Colenso (see above). He also wrote books including: Treatise on the Analytical Geometry of Three Dimensions, 1830; Treatise on Conic Sections, 1837; Theory of Plane Curves, 1837; Integral Calculus, including perhaps the first English discussion of elliptic functions. Left Cambridge in 1852.
  • James Inman entered St John's in 1796, Senior Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman, Fellow in 1805. Then was professor at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth. Wrote Navigation and Nautical Astronomy for the use of British Seamen.
  • James Hopwood Jeans entered Trinity in 1896, joint Second Wrangler in 1898, Fellow of Trinity in 1901, University Lecturer in 1904-1906 and Stokes Lecturer in 1910-1912. Adams Prize, 1917.
  • Philip Edward Bertrand Jourdain (1880?-1919) was a student at Cambridge from 1898.
  • John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was born at the family house at 6 Harvey Road. His parents remained there for the rest of their lives and Keynes visited them often.
  • John Kirkby was a student at St John's from 1723, then a Fellow. He wrote Arithmetical Institutions and translated Barrow's lectures as The Usefulness of Mathematical Learning Explained in 1734.
  • Horace Lamb (1849-1934) was a student and Fellow of Trinity and Rayleigh Lecturer to 1875. When he retired from Manchester in 1920, he came to live in Cambridge and was made an Honorary Fellow of Trinity and Honorary Rayleigh Lecturer. He lived at 6 Selwyn Gardens. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • Joseph Larmor (1857-1942) was a student of St John's in 1877-1880, being Senior Wrangler with J. J. Thomson being second. He was a Fellow of St John's, but spent 1880-1885 at Galway. He succeeded Stokes as Lucasian Professor in 1903-1932. He was MP for the University, 1911-1922.
  • John Edensor Littlewood (1885-1977) entered Trinity in 1902, was Senior Wrangler in 1905 and then did research under Barnes. Did not get an immediate Fellowship, so went to Manchester. Fellow of Trinity from 1910. Lived in Staircase D, Nevile's Court, Trinity College, 1913-1977. It was here that Hardy and Littlewood read Ramanujan's letter one evening in January 1913. By midnight they were convinced that it was the work of a genius--in Hardy's words: "They must be true because, if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them." (C. P. Snow thought the meeting was in Hardy's rooms, but other colleagues of the era think Littlewood's rooms was their usual meeting place. Bollobas notes that this meeting might have taken rather more than one evening, but been reduced to one in later telling.) (It is now known that Ramanujan had written in 1912 to Baker and Hobson, who had ignored the letters -- perhaps reasonably as neither knew anything about the fields of Ramanujan work.) A bust of Littlewood by Gabriella Bollobás is in the Combination Room.
  • Roger Long (1680-1770) was a Fellow and then Master of Pembroke in 1733-1770. He was the first Lowndean Professor from 1749 to 1770. In 1765 or 1753 he erected a zodiack, i.e. a large sphere which could hold several (thirty) people and show the constellations, considered the first planetarium. It stood in the grounds of Pembroke until 1871.
  • Henry Lucas, founder of the Lucasian Chairs, had been a student at St John's.
  • William Ludlam (1716?-1788) was a student at St John's from 1734, BA 1738, MA 1742, Fellow 1744, BD 1749. He was a candidate for the Lucasian chair in 1760, but was defeated by Waring. He published Astronomical Observations made in St John's College, Cambridge, in the years 1767 and 1768 and Rudiments of Mathematics, a standard university text until the early 19C, though it had reservations about negative numbers.
  • P. A. MacMahon was at 31 Hertford St on 22 Oct 1923.
  • Prasantha Chandra Mahalanobis came to England in 1913 to study in London, but was so impressed by King's College Chapel that a friend suggested he come to King's and next day he was admitted!
  • Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1824) was a student at Jesus College in 1784-1788. He was 9th Wrangler.
  • Francis Maseres (1731-1824) entered Clare College in 1748, Fourth Wrangler and first Chancellor's medallist in 1752, MA & Fellow of Clare 1755. He was one of those who objected to the use of negative numbers. He was a candidate for the Lucasian Chair in 1760, losing to Waring, and then devoted himself to the bar, becoming Attorney-General of Canada and a Cursitor-Baron of the Exchequer.
  • Nevil Maskelyne (1732-1811) was Seventh Wrangler in 1754, then a Fellow of Trinity. In 1765, he became Astronomer Royal.
  • William Henry Maule (1788-1858) was Senior Wrangler in 1810 and first Smith's Prizeman. I recall he was a supporter or founder of The Analytical Society. He was a fellow of Trinity and a mathematical coach while studying for the bar and then went into the law, becoming a judge and a PC.
  • Edwin Arthur Maxwell (1907-1987) was a student, then a Fellow of Queens' College. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was a student at Peterhouse for two (or one?) terms in 1850-1851, then a student of Trinity, being Second Wrangler in 1854 (Routh was first) and sharing the Smith's Prize with Routh (Stokes set the paper for the Prize and included the first statement of Stokes' Theorem!). Fellow of Trinity in 1855. Adams Prizeman in 1857 for his 'On the stability of motion of Saturn's rings' which demonstrated that the rings could not be solid nor a fluid, so they had to consist of separate pieces. He was the first Cavendish Professor in 1871-1879--see above for some memorabilia. He died in Cambridge. John Fauvel tells me there is a copy of the 'celebrated portrait of ... Maxwell as an infant' in Prof. Callandine's rooms in Peterhouse, but that no one seems to know if the original still exists.
  • John Michell was at Queens'; 4th wrangler in 1748; Fellow; Praelector Arithmeticus in 1751; MA in 1752; Praelector Geometricus in 1753; BD in 1761, numerous other offices (senior bursar) and lectureships (Hebrew, Greek, theology). Wrote on magnetism, earthquakes, etc. Woodwardian Professor of Geology, 1762-1764, then left for "the superior charms of a wife and a living", the living being at Thornhill from 1767. In 1764-1767, he was one of the committee to examine Harrison's chronometer and wrote on Hadley's quadrant and on measuring longitude. He also made the first estimates of the distance of stars--which were pretty close to the first measurements made by Bessel and others about 70 years later. He introduced probabilistic reasoning for studying the distribution of stars, and stated that 'double' stars were genuinely paired and rotating about one another--as verified by W. Herschel some 20 years later. See also Cavendish above.
  • Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956) studied mathematics at Trinity, but disappointed his tutor by become editor of Granta and only getting a third. He later became a writer. He may have been related to E. A. Milne
  • Isaac Milner (1751-1820) was Senior Wrangler in 1774 and Waring's successor as Lucasian Professor in 1798, when he was already professor of natural philosophy, Master of Queens' College and Dean of Carlisle. He seems to have never lectured or examined.
  • Abraham de Moivre (1667-1754) was a candidate for the Lucasian chair in 1739 and was admitted a member of Trinity and created MA to qualify him, but he was already 72 and Colson was elected instead.
  • L. J. Mordell was at St John's from 1907, Third Wrangler in 1909, second Smith's Prizeman for a paper on y2=x3+ky^{2} = x^{3} + k. He remained in Cambridge until 1913, but failed to get a fellowship at St John's. Sadleirian Professor and Fellow of St John's in 1945-1953. He lived in a flat in Belvoir Terrace and then in a house in Bulstrode Gardens.
  • Samuel Morland was at Magdalene for ten years but did not take a degree. He invented the speaking tube and an early one is in Trinity Library. He seems to have been the first to propose using the barometer to predict the weather, though Boyle is often credited with this.
  • Frank Morley was a student at King's, but overwork(?) led to his withdrawal for a year and his final rank was not as good as expected and he did not get a fellowship.
  • Robert Murphy (1806-1843) was a student at Caius in 1825-1829, graduating Third Wrangler, and then a Fellow of his college.
  • Joseph Needham (1900-1995) was a student of medicine at Caius, then a Fellow from 1924. He was Haldane's successor as Reader in Biochemistry in 1932. After the War, he was a founder of UNESCO. The first volume of the monumental Science and Civilization in China appeared in 1954. He was Master from 1966. He was a President of Caius--unlabelled portrait in the Hall, dressed in a blue Chinese robe. In the 1970s, a Needham Research Institute was established behind Robinson College.
  • Eric Harold Neville (1889-1961) was a student at Trinity; took the Tripos a year early in 1909 in order to be in the last of the old-style Triposes, coming in Second; Smith's Prize, 1911; Fellow of Trinity, 1912. In Jan 1914, he lectured in Madras, acting as Hardy's agent in arranging for Ramanujan to come to England. Ramanujan stayed at the Nevilles' house in 113 Chestertown Road for six weeks on his arrival in Cambridge in April 1914. Neville lost his Fellowship in 1917, possibly because of his pacifist views.
  • Isaac Newton (1642-1727) came to Trinity as a student in 1661 and remained until 1696. He bought his prism at Stourbridge Fair, which was held on Stourbridge Common, about one and a half miles east of the city centre. (At the time, this was the biggest fair in England, but it ended in 1855. It had been one of the three biggest fairs in Europe, and another author says it was still one of the largest in England in 1889.) As one enters Trinity, the lawn on the right (north) side of the Great Gate was once Newton's private garden and his chemical laboratory was adjacent to the Chapel. See the description of the entrance to Trinity College above for Newton's apple trees. His rooms were in Staircase E, Number E4(?), on the first floor (UK) (= second floor (US)) to the north of the Great Gate, just adjacent to the Chapel, with two windows facing the outside and two and one-half windows closest to the Chapel on the inside. The rooms are not open to the public. The College seems to believe his rooms were adjacent to or over the Gate, but D. T. Whiteside says this is erroneous. We do not know just when he lived here, but he was here in 1687 when he wrote the Principia. Hamilton was lodged here for a British Association meeting and Russell lived here in 1944. Newton was knighted by Queen Anne in the drawing-room of the Master's Lodge on 16 April 1705. It is sometimes said that Newton was the first person knighted for his science, but others assert it was for his work at the Mint. There is a 1710 portrait of Newton in the Master's Lodge, along with a grandfather clock presented by him in 1708. Newton's private library and other memorabilia are in Trinity Library. In 1689, King William nominated Newton to be Provost of King's, but this was soon dropped as inappropriate.
  • William Oughtred (1574-1660) was an undergraduate from 1592, BA 1596, MA 1596, and a Fellow of King's until he became vicar of Albury, Surrey, in 1618 or 1610.
  • William Paley (1743-1805) was at Christ's College from 1760, being Senior Wrangler in 1763. However, he went into theology--his View of the Evidences of Christianity of 1794 was a Cambridge text book well into the 20C. Christ's has a portrait in their Hall.
  • Charles Algernon Parsons (1854-1931), inventor of the steam turbine, entered St John's in 1873 and was 11th Wrangler in 1876.
  • George Peacock (1791-1858) entered Trinity in 1809 and was Second Wrangler and Second Smith's Prizeman in 1813 (Herschel was first in both), Fellow in 1814, lecturer in 1815, MA 1816, ordained 1822, Tutor in 1823-1839. He helped establish the University Observatory. Elected Lowndean Professor in 1836, defeating Whewell. Dean of Ely from 1839, residing there until his death and apparently not lecturing at Cambridge.
  • Karl Pearson (1857-1936) was a student and a Fellow at King's, 1875-1886.
  • John Pell (1610-1685) was a student at Trinity at age 13, obtaining his MA in 1630. He continued as a lecturer, eventually going to Amsterdam as Professor.
  • Samuel Pepys (1632-1703) was at Magdalene College in 1651-1654, BA in 1653 and MA by proxy in 1660. He retained friendly contact with the College throughout his life and frequently returned to Cambridge. He declined the post of Provost of King's in 1681. He left Magdalene his library of 3000 books, including the MSS of his Diary of 1660-1669, finally deciphered in 1819-1825. He also left money to help build the Second Court, one side of which is the Pepys Building with the inscription Biblioteca Pepysiana, containing his library in the oak bookcases that he had had made, including the first known glass-fronted ones which he began acquiring on 17 Aug 1666. The library is open to visitors, 14:30-15:30 on weekdays in term. There is a portrait of Pepys in the Gallery.

  • Henry Piaggio (1884-1962) was a student at St John's.
  • W. T. Pye began making scientific instruments and radios in 1911 in a workshop beside the river at Laundress Lane. This grew into the Pye Electronics firm.
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) stayed at the Nevilles', 113 Chestertown Road, when he arrived in Cambridge in Apr 1914, for about 6 weeks, before moving in early June into Trinity on the ground floor of Staircase P of Whewell's Court. It was here that Mahalanobis found that Ramanujan was cold because he didn't know how to use the blankets tucked onto the bed. In Oct 1915, he moved to the 2nd floor, Staircase D of Bishop's Hostel. In Mar 1916, he was awarded a BA by research. In March 1917, he was ill and went into a Nursing Hostel in Thompson's Lane, demolished in 1981. In Oct, he began the long series of stays in other nursing homes--his illness has generally been thought to be tuberculosis and/or stomach ulcer, but a recent theory is that it was amoebic dysentery--a disease which could easily have been cured even then. The University conferred the degree of BA by Research on Ramanujan in March 1918. In Oct 1918, he was elected a Fellow of Trinity (a year after becoming FRS). A bust of Ramanujan was placed in the Department Library in the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms in 1986.
  • Arthur Stanley Ramsey (1867-1954), the applied mathematician, was President of Magdalene College. The family lived in Buckingham Road. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground. His son Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903-1930), the eponym of Ramsey Theory, is also buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • Robert A. Rankin was at Clare College.
  • Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919) was a student at Trinity from 1861, Senior Wrangler, Smith's Prizeman in 1865, later a Fellow, and later Chancellor of the University from 1908. O.M. 1902 and Nobel prize 1904. There is a portrait in the Examination Hall.
  • Robert Recorde (c1510-1558) migrated to Cambridge from Oxford, c.1535, and taught mathematics and medicine until c.1545 when he received the MD and returned to Oxford.
  • Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912) was a student at Queens' in 1863-1867 and then a Fellow of Queens'.
  • Lewis Fry Richardson (1881-1953) was a student of Natural Sciences at King's from 1900, getting a First Class degree in 1903. His first major piece of mathematical research was at the National Peat Industry Ltd. in 1906-1907, where he developed his pioneering numerical methods in trying to solve practical water percolation problems. This was so novel that it took some time to get published and when it was submitted for a King's Fellowship competition, it was rejected.
  • Laurence Rooke (1623-1662) was a student at King's to 1643 and then lectured on Oughtred to c1650.
  • Edward James Routh (1831-1907) was a student at Peterhouse, Senior Wrangler in 1854 (Maxwell was second) and joint first Smith's Prizeman with Maxwell in 1854. Notable coach for many years, who coached no less than twenty-seven senior wranglers.
  • Samuel Birley Rowbotham (Parallax) made observations in 1838 along the Bedford Level--one of the great drainage channels through the Cambridgeshire fens--which he claimed to show the earth was flat, leading to the formation of the 'Flat Earth Society' which survived until the 1980s!
  • Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was a student at Trinity in 1890-1894, where he studied with Whitehead, joint 7th Wrangler in 1893, Fellow of Trinity in 1895. In 1890, he lodged in Whewell's Court. In 1902, he stayed with Whitehead in Grantchester while they finished the Principia Mathematica. In 1910-1911, he was living in I Building (Staircase??), Nevile's Court. He was later fired on 11 Jul 1916 due to his pacificism in World War I. He returned as a lecturer in 1944 and lived in Newton's rooms.
  • Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), who succeeded J J Thomson as Cavendish professor in 1919, lived at Newnham Cottage, Queen's Road from 1919 to his death in 1937, caused by falling from a tree he was pruning in the garden. There are several portraits in Cambridge.
  • Nicholas Sanderson (or Saunderson) (1682-1739) came to teach at Christ's College. When Whiston was expelled, Queen Anne conferred an MA on Sanderson so he could succeed as Fourth Lucasian Professor in 1711.
  • Arthur Schuster (1851-1934) was at the Cavendish in 1876-1881.
  • Robert Smith (1689-1768), a cousin of Cotes, was a student at Trinity in 1707-1711 and a Fellow from 1712. He succeeded Cotes as Plumian Professor. Master of Mechanics to the King. (William Herschel gave a concert at Bath on Smith's 'changeable harpsichord'.) Edited Cotes's works and wrote several excellent text books (Ball suggests one could usefully be reprinted) and the best 18C work on optics. Master of Trinity from 1742. His will founded two annual prizes--the Smith's Prizes--in mathematics and natural philosophy which have become the premier prizes in the subject.
  • Fabian Stedman, the inventor of the mathematical, but singularly unmusical, English pastime of change-ringing, was parish clerk of St Bene't, Bene't Street, c1650. He seems to be the first person to recognise the parity of permutations. The first organized peal was probably rung from the tower.
  • George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903) was a student at Pembroke, Senior Wrangler in 1841. Then Fellow from 1849, President and Master of Pembroke, 1902-1903. Lucasian Professor, 1849-1903. Conservative MP for Cambridge University 1887-92. In 1854, Stokes set the paper for the Smith's Prize and included the first statement of Stokes' Theorem. He is buried in Mill Road Cemetery. Portrait in the Hall of Pembroke; bust somewhere in Pembroke; bust in the Fitzwilliam Museum. Pembroke Chapel east window was presented by his daughter and designed by her brother-in-law. The lower left of the centre window is a memorial to Stokes which is hard to see as it is obscured by the altar. The lower part of the left window shows the combination of Stokes and Pembroke arms while the lower part of the right window shows the Stokes arms. I have seen a letter of 10 Jul 1889 from him at Lensfield Cottage, possibly part of Pembroke?
  • James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897) was a student at St John's, Second Wrangler in 1837. But he could not be awarded a degree because he could not subscribe to the articles of faith. Trinity College Dublin awarded him an MA. After the removal of the religious bar in 1871, he was awarded English degrees honoris causa. Sylvester was made an honorary fellow of St John's in 1880; the college has a portrait, and twelve boxes of Sylvester's letters and papers are in the college library.
  • Peter Guthrie Tait (1831-1901) was Senior Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman in1852.
  • William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) was at Trinity. He was 12th Wrangler and second Chancellor's Medallist in 1821.
  • Brook Taylor (1685-1731) was at St John's 1701-1709. He removed to London about then. He is described as a student of Newton's, though follower is probably a better term as Newton had moved to London in 1696.
  • Geoffrey Ingram Taylor (1886-1975) was a student at Trinity from 1905. His Smith's Prize paper was the first convincing demonstration of the phenomenon of shock waves. He worked at the Cavendish Lab.
  • Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940) was a student, Fellow and then Master of Trinity from 1918. He was Second Wrangler to Larmor in 1880, and succeeeded Lord Rayleigh as Cavendish professor in 1884. Seven of his research assistants won the Nobel prize.
  • William Thomson (1824-1907) -- later Lord Kelvin--entered Peterhouse in 1841. He was Second Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman in 1845, then junior mathematics lecturer and Fellow at Peterhouse in 1845-46. In 1845, just after his degree and on his way to Paris, his tutor gave him three copies of Green's 1828 Essay, which Thomson had been unable to find. He was thrilled by it, as were Liouville and Sturm, and it was republished in J. reine angew. Math. in 1850-1854. Thus were the ideas of potential, Green's theorem and Green's functions brought to light.
  • Isaac Todhunter (1820-1884) was at St John's, Senior Wrangler in 1848, later a Fellow.
  • John Toplis (1786-1858) was a Fellow of Queens'. He was an enthusiast for the new continental calculus--he translated the first book of Laplace's Mécanique Céleste and published it himself in 1814, in Nottingham where he was head of the Free Grammar School in 1806-1819. It seems likely that he was Green's mentor. He returned to Queens' in 1819.
  • Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559) (or Tonstall) migrated from Oxford to King's Hall (one of the predecessors of Trinity College), c. 1495. A presentation copy of his De Arte Supputandi, the first arithmetic book produced in Britain, is in the University Library.
  • Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a student at King's, 1931-1934, and a Fellow intermittently from 1935 (or 1934) to 1952. He said the idea of a 'Turing machine' occurred while lying (or running??) in the meadow at Grantchester, just south of Cambridge along the river, in the summer of 1935.
  • John Venn (1834-1923) entered Caius in 1853. President of Gonville & Caius, in 1903-1923, which has a portrait of him--I recently found it was in Anthony Edwards' rooms. Venn lived at 1 Chaucer Road, Trumpington, just south of Cambridge, and is buried in the extension of Trumpington churchyard. The Venn arms are in the stained class in the large window at the SE corner of the Hall. On the suggestion of Anthony Edwards, Caius has just installed a handsome modern stained glass window in the hall showing the standard Venn diagram in three bright colours. Venn was one of the compilers of Alumni Cantabrigiensis.
  • John von Neumann (1903-1957) spent the last term of 1935 here and met Turing.
  • John Wallis (1616-1703) was a student at Emmanuel in 1632-1636, where one of his theses was on the circulation of the blood--the first public disputation of the topic. He was a Fellow of Queens' and MA in 1640 before going to Oxford.
  • Seth Ward (1617-1689) was a student at Sidney Sussex to 1637 and then a Fellow. He revived mathematical teaching by lecturing on Oughtred. He was expelled by Parliament. During the Commonwealth, his father Samuel Ward, Master of Sidney Sussex, was imprisoned by Cromwell's forces in St John's and the son attended him.
  • Edward Waring (1736-1798) was a student of Magdalene, being Senior Wrangler in 1757. He then was a Fellow of Magdalene. In 1760, he was elected to succeed Colson as Lucasian Professor, though he was not yet eligible for the MA. The main rival candidate was Maseres, but William Ludlam was also considered. Waring produced the first chapter of his Miscellanea Analytica in support of his candidacy and this led to an exchange of criticisms in which Waring was vindicated. He announced Wilson's Theorem, due to his pupil John Wilson (qv ), c.1760.
  • G. N. Watson (1886-1965) was at Trinity as student and Fellow, 1904-1914. He was Senior Wrangler in 1907.
  • William Whewell (1794-1866) was a student at Trinity, Second Wrangler and Second Smith's Prizeman in 1816, Fellow of Trinity, then Tutor from 1823-1839 and Master from 1841 to 1866. His Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 1847, was one of the first studies of the philosophy of science, but it asserted that it was not appropriate to teach ideas until they had been thoroughly assimilated into the science. Consequently Cambridge did not appoint a Professor of Physics until 1874.
  • William Whiston (1667-1752) was a student at Clare in 1685-1690, attending Newton's lectures. Fellow of Clare in 1690. Deputised for Newton when Newton became Master of the Mint in 1699, and succeeded Newton as (Third) Lucasian Professor in 1703??. His edition of Euclid was standard for half a century. Published Newton's Universal Arithmetic in 1707. He and Bentley encouraged the publication of other works of Newton. Expelled in 1711 for heretical views--or rather because he began to make personal attacks on those who disagreed with him. Best known for his translation of Josephus' Jewish War.
  • Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) came to Trinity in 1880, Third Wrangler in 1883, Fellow of Trinity, 1884 until 1910 when he resigned. The Whiteheads lived at Mill House, Grantchester by the mill pool (Byron's Pool) in 1898-1906. It was here that Russell and his wife stayed in 1902 while Principia Mathematica was completed.
  • Edmund Taylor Whittaker (1873-1956) was a Fellow of Trinity and University Lecturer in 1905-1906.
  • Andrew Wiles (1953- ) was born in Cambridge and attended the Lees School there. After studying at Oxford, he returned to do his PhD in Cambridge, under the supervision of John Coates. Though offered a fellowship by Clare, he went to Harvard. He has been at Princeton since the early 1980s, but he returned to present his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem at a conference at the Isaac Newton Research Institute on 23 Jun 1993, a bit after 10:30 am. In fact it then took over a year for all the gaps and details to be filled in.
  • John Wilkins (1614-1672) was Master of Trinity from 1659.
  • William Wilkins (1778-1839), was a student of mathematics at Caius and was elected to a fellowship, but after a Grand Tour, he turned to architecture and was responsible for many notable works in Cambridge and London, but is not remembered as much as he should be. He worked first in the classical Grecian style, then in the Gothic revival style for about ten years before reverting to the Grecian. He designed University College London, St George's Hospital and the National Gallery in London, the west side of Corpus Christi (including the New Court and Library) in 1823-1827, the east and south sides of King's in 1823 (including the Hall), the initial parts of Downing College in 1806, the bridge at King's, the New Court (or King's Court) at Trinity in 1823-1825 and his own house at the corner of Lensfield Road and Panton Street. He is buried in the Chapel of Corpus Christi.
  • J. H. Wilkinson was a student at Trinity, graduating at age 19.
  • John Wilson (1741-1793), of Wilson's Theorem -- which he discovered as a student of Waring, but couldn't prove--was a student at Peterhouse, being Senior Wrangler in 1761. He was a coach, i.e. a private tutor for those wanting to do well in the Tripos examinations.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) succeeded G. E. Moore as Professor of Philosophy from 1939-1948. He lodged in 'Stratherd', now part of Lucy Cavendish College, on Lady Margaret Road. During his final illness, he was nursed by Mrs. Bevan at her house in Storey's Way, where he died. He is buried in the Ascension Burial Ground.
  • William Hyde Wollaston (1766-1828) was at Caius; his arms are in a window in the Hall.
  • Joseph Wolstenholme (1829-1891) was at Christ's College.
  • James Wood (1759?-1839) entered St John's as a sizar and Kay exhibitioner in 1778, reportedly so poor that he was often found reading by the staircase lamp--in the turret of the SE corner of the second court. Although he received scholarships, he seems not have to have left the college until 1782, when he went home to announce he was Senior Wrangler, First Smith's Prizeman and a Fellow. Soon a tutor. Master of St John's, 1815-1839, dying in the Lodge and interred in the Chapel; Vice-Chancellor, 1816; Dean of Ely, 1820. Wrote Elements of Algebra, 1795, which reached a 16th edn. in 1861, and The Principles of Mechanics, 1796, which reached at least 8 editions. Statue in the Antechapel, portraits in the Lodge and Hall.
  • Robert Woodhouse (1773-1827) was a student at Caius from 1790, BA, SeniorWrangler and First Smith's Prizeman in 1795, MA in 1798, then a Fellow from 1798 until his marriage in 1823. His Principles of Analytical Calculation, 1803, was the first English text to explain the differential notation of Leibniz, but it was not as clear as the later works of the Analytical Society (Bromhead, Herschel, Peacock, Babbage, etc.) which it inspired. Lucasian Professor in 1820-1822, then Plumian Professor and first Superintendent of the Observatory in1822-1827. In 1901, there was a monument to him in the Chapel.
  • Christopher Wren (1632-1723) has left a number of works in Cambridge: Pembroke Chapel (his first or second work, started and completed while he was working on the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford), Trinity College Library (1676- ) and Emmanuel Chapel with its adjacent Long Gallery. The 'Wren Bridge' at St John's is not by him, though the initial design is claimed to come from his office. Another source implies the bridge, or at least its ornamentation, was designed by Wren, but that he advised that it be located where the present 'Bridge of Sighs' is and that the Cam be shifted westward to align it with the College.
  • Matthew Wren (1585-1667), uncle of Christopher, had been at Pembroke College, was Master of Peterhouse, then a bishop who was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1642-1659 where he resolved to beautify Pembroke. In 1662, he had his nephew design a Chapel for Pembroke which was built in 1663-1664 as Christopher's first completed architectural work. In the east window, to the right of Christ, Matthew Wren is shown with a model of the Chapel.
  • Edward Wright (c.1558-1615) was a student at Caius to 1581, then a Fellow until c. 1600. He was the first to apply mathematics to the art of navigation.
  • Thomas Young (1773-1829) took a degree at Emmanuel in 1803.
  • William Henry Young (1863-1942) was a Fellow of Peterhouse.
  • G. U. Yule (1871-1951) was reader in statistics from 1912.

(Although there have been notable mathematicians at St John's, Peterhouse, etc., only Trinity and King's seem to have a reasonable college history available, so I am undoubtedly missing out many people and details of interest.)