William H. Spottiswoode PRS (11 January 1825 – 27 June 1883)[1] was
an English mathematician and physicist. He was President of the Royal
Society from 1878 to 1883.[2][3]

Contents

1 Biography

1.1 Early life
1.2 Family

2 Career
3 Publications
4 References

Biography[edit]
Early life[edit]
His father, Andrew Spottiswoode, who was descended from an ancient
Scottish family, represented
**Colchester**

Colchester in parliament for some years,
and in 1831 became junior partner in the firm of Eyre &
Spottiswoode, printers.
William was educated at Laleham, Eton College,
**Harrow School**

Harrow School and
Balliol College, Oxford. His bent for science showed itself while he
was still a schoolboy, and indeed his removal from Eton to Harrow is
said to have been occasioned by an accidental explosion which occurred
whilst he was performing an experiment for his own amusement. At
Harrow he obtained in 1842 a Lyon scholarship, and at
**Oxford**

Oxford in 1845 a
first-class in mathematics, in 1846 the junior and in 1847 the senior
university mathematical scholarship.
Family[edit]
He married in Bexley 27 November 1861 Elisa ("Lise") Taylor Arbuthnot,
daughter of William Urquhart Arbuthnot (grandson of Sir William
Arbuthnot, 1st Baronet). They had children William Hugh Spottiswoode
(1864–1916)[4][5] and Cyril Andrew Spottiswoode (1867–1915).[6]
Career[edit]
In 1846 he left
**Oxford**

Oxford to take his father's place in the business, in
which he was engaged until his death. In 1847 he issued five pamphlets
entitled Meditationes analyticae. This was his first publication of
original mathematical work, and from this time scarcely a year passed
in which he did not give to the world further mathematical research.
In 1856 Spottiswoode travelled in eastern Russia, and in 1860 in
**Croatia**

Croatia and Hungary; of the former expedition he has left a record, A
Tarantasse Journey through Eastern
**Russia**

Russia in the Autumn of 1856
(London, 1857).
In 1870 he was elected president of the
**London**

London Mathematical Society.
In 1871 he began to turn his attention to experimental physics, his
earlier researches bearing upon the light polarization and his later
work upon the electrical discharge in rarefied gases. He wrote a
popular treatise on the former subject for the Nature Series in 1874.
In 1878 he was elected president of the
**British Association**

British Association and in the
same year president of the Royal Society, of which he had been a
fellow since 1853. He died in
**London**

London of typhoid fever on 27 June 1883
and was buried in Westminster Abbey.[7]
As a mathematician, he occupied himself with many branches of his
favorite science, more especially with higher algebra, including the
theory of determinants, with the general calculus of symbols, and with
the application of analysis to geometry and mechanics.
The following brief review of his mathematical work is quoted from the
obituary notice which appeared in the Proceedings of tile Royal
Society (xxxviii. 34):

The interesting series of communications on the contact of curves and
surfaces which are contained in the Philosophical Transactions of 1862
and subsequent years would alone account for the high rank he obtained
as a mathematician. - - - The mastery which he had obtained over the
mathematical symbols was so complete that he never shrank from the use
of expressions, however complicated nay, the more complicated they
were the more he seemed to revel in themprovided they did not sin
against the ruling spirit of all his work symmetry. To a mind imbued
with the love of mathematical symmetry, the study of determinants had
naturally every attraction. In 1851 Mr. Spottiswoode published in the
form of a pamphlet an account of some elementary theorems on the
subject. This had fallen out of print, permission was sought by the
editor of
**Crelle's Journal** to reproduce it in the pages of that
journal. Mr. Spottiswoode granted the request and undertook to revise
his work. The subject had, however, been so extensively developed in
the interim that it proved necessary not merely to revise it but
entirely to rewrite the work, which became a memoir of 116 pages. To
this, the first elementary treatise on determinants, much of the rapid
development of the subject is due. The effect of the study on Mr.
Spottiswoodes own methods was most pronounced; there is scarcely a
page of his mathematical writings that does not bristle with
determinants. His papers, numbering over 100, were published
principally in the Philosophical Transactions, Proceedings of the
Royal Society, Quarterly Journal of Mathematics, Proceedings of the
**London**

London Mathematical Society and Crelle's Journal, and one or two in
the Comptes rendus of the Paris Academy; a list of them, arranged
according to the several journals in which they originally appeared,
with short notes upon the less familiar memoirs, is given in Nature,
xxvii, 599.

Publications[edit]

Elementary Theorems Relating to Determinants (London: Longman, Brown,
Green, & Longman, 1851) (Alternate URL)
A tarantasse journey through eastern
**Russia**

Russia in the autumn of 1856

References[edit]

**Wikisource**

Wikisource has original works written by or about:
William Spottiswoode

^ GRO Register of Deaths: JUN 1883 1a 303 ST GEO HAN SQ - William
Spottiswoode, aged 58
^ "Spottiswoode, William". Dictionary of National Biography.
London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "William Spottiswoode",
MacTutor History of
**Mathematics**

Mathematics archive, University of St
Andrews .
^ "Spottiswoode, William Hugh". Who's Who. Vol. 57. 1905.
p. 1515.
^ "William Hugh Spottiswoode". The Inland Printer. 56. 1916.
p. 108.
^ Spottiswoode, Cyril Andrew (1867–1915), son of William
Spottiswoode
^
**William Spottiswoode**

William Spottiswoode - Westminster Abbey

v
t
e

Presidents of the Royal Society

17th century

Viscount Brouncker (1662)
Joseph Williamson (1677)
**Christopher Wren**

Christopher Wren (1680)
John Hoskyns (1682)
**Cyril Wyche**

Cyril Wyche (1683)
**Samuel Pepys**

Samuel Pepys (1684)
Earl of Carbery (1686)
Earl of Pembroke (1689)
Robert Southwell (1690)
Charles Montagu (1695)
Lord Somers (1698)

18th century

**Isaac Newton**

Isaac Newton (1703)
**Hans Sloane**

Hans Sloane (1727)
**Martin Folkes**

Martin Folkes (1741)
Earl of Macclesfield (1752)
Earl of Morton (1764)
**James Burrow**

James Burrow (1768)
James West (1768)
**James Burrow**

James Burrow (1772)
**John Pringle**

John Pringle (1772)
**Joseph Banks**

Joseph Banks (1778)

19th century

**William Hyde Wollaston**

William Hyde Wollaston (1820)
**Humphry Davy**

Humphry Davy (1820)
**Davies Gilbert**

Davies Gilbert (1827)
Duke of Sussex (1830)
Marquess of Northampton (1838)
Earl of Rosse (1848)
Lord Wrottesley (1854)
Benjamin Collins Brodie (1858)
**Edward Sabine**

Edward Sabine (1861)
**George Biddell Airy**

George Biddell Airy (1871)
**Joseph Dalton Hooker**

Joseph Dalton Hooker (1873)
**William Spottiswoode**

William Spottiswoode (1878)
**Thomas Henry Huxley**

Thomas Henry Huxley (1883)
George Gabriel Stokes (1885)
William Thomson (1890)
**Joseph Lister**

Joseph Lister (1895)

20th century

**William Huggins**

William Huggins (1900)
Lord Rayleigh (1905)
**Archibald Geikie**

Archibald Geikie (1908)
**William Crookes**

William Crookes (1913)
**J. J. Thomson**

J. J. Thomson (1915)
**Charles Scott Sherrington**

Charles Scott Sherrington (1920)
**Ernest Rutherford**

Ernest Rutherford (1925)
**Frederick Gowland Hopkins**

Frederick Gowland Hopkins (1930)
**William Henry Bragg**

William Henry Bragg (1935)
**Henry Hallett Dale**

Henry Hallett Dale (1940)
Robert Robinson (1945)
Edgar Adrian (1950)
**Cyril Norman Hinshelwood**

Cyril Norman Hinshelwood (1955)
**Howard Florey**

Howard Florey (1960)
**Patrick Blackett** (1965)
**Alan Lloyd Hodgkin**

Alan Lloyd Hodgkin (1970)
Lord Todd (1975)
**Andrew Huxley**

Andrew Huxley (1980)
**George Porter**

George Porter (1985)
Sir
**Michael Atiyah**

Michael Atiyah (1990)
Sir
**Aaron Klug**

Aaron Klug (1995)

21st century

Robert May (2000)
Martin Rees (2005)
Sir
**Paul Nurse**

Paul Nurse (2010)
Sir
**Venkatraman Ramakrishnan**

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2015)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities
VIAF: 13090059
LCCN: n86803666
ISNI: 0000 0000 7372 721X
GND: 117649996
SUDOC: 084997