Peter Redford Scott Lang

Scotsman obituary

Obituaries Index


Sir Peter Redford Scott Lang, M.A., B.Sc., LL.D., formerly Regius Professor of Mathematics in the University of St Andrews, died at his residence, Mansefield, St Andrews, on Monday night. For a number of years he had been suffering from heart trouble, and his death was not unexpected. From 1879 till 1921 he held his Chair at St Andrews with marked distinction, a long train of distinguished students passing through his classroom.

He was born in Edinburgh in 1850, and received his early education at the Edinburgh Institution. He next attended Edinburgh University, and graduated M.A. in 1872. He was then appointed assistant to the late Professor P G Tait of the Chair of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh University. For six sessions he acted as Assistant Professor of Natural Philosophy. In 1879 he became Regius Professor of Mathematics at St Andrews.

Throughout his long career as a Professor at St Andrews Sir Peter Scott Lang was unsparing in the work of the Senate and its committees, and he held practically every office which required special knowledge of University affairs. He was on several occasions Dean of the Faculty of Science, and also Dean of the Faculty of Arts. A keen volunteer, he founded the St Andrews University Battery, and commanded it for many years. He held the rank of Colonel in the 1st Fifeshire Volunteers and T.F. University athletics had in him a strong supporter, and it was principally through his efforts that the various athletic clubs of the University were combined in an Athletic Union, an organisation which has been of the greatest value in encouraging student athletics. The Students' Union, which has now become an important social institution in the life of the students, is in large measure indebted to his efforts for its existence, its embellishment, and its prosperity. A valuable work he performed for the University during the war was the compiling of its Roll of Honour, which was ultimately published in handsome book form.


Sir Peter Scott Lang was a devoted member of the Church of Scotland, and as a member of St Andrews Presbytery he organised and superintended the carrying through of the scheme of raising all the smaller livings in the Presbytery to a minimum of £300. The Presbytery honoured him for that work. He was a member of St Andrews Town Council about 40 years ago. An ardent Unionist in politics, he was for many years a leader of the party in the East of Fife, and addressed many political meetings. He had been a member of St Andrews Conservative Club since its institution. In 1921 he was honoured with a Knighthood in recognition of his educational, military, and public services, and in 1922 the University of St Andrews conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. He was a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews. He is survived by Lady Scott Lang and a daughter.

Peter Redford Scott Lang's obituary appeared in The Scotsman on Wednesday, 7 July 1926.