John Purser (mathematician)

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John Purser
Sarah Purser, portrait of John Purser.jpg
Portrait by his cousin Sarah Purser
Born(1835-08-24)August 24, 1835
DiedOctober 18, 1903(1903-10-18) (aged 68)
Alma materTrinity College, Dublin
Scientific career
InstitutionsQueen's College, Belfast
Notable studentsJoseph Larmor, John Henry MacFarland, William McFadden Orr

John Purser (1835–1903) was an Irish mathematician, who was professor at Queen's College, Belfast.

Life and work[edit]

Son of John Tertius Purser (1809–1893), the general manager of the well known brewery Guinness,[1] Purser was educated in a wealthy family, which included artists, as his cousin Sarah Purser, or engineers, as his brother-in-law John Purser Griffith. He was the brother of mathematician Frederick Purser. He studied in Trinity College, Dublin, graduating BA in mathematics in 1856.

The following years Purser was tutor to the children of Lord Rosse, Lawrence and Charles. In 1863, he was appointed professor of mathematics at Queen's College, Belfast, he was in place until his retirement in 1901.[2]

Purser is much better known as a teacher than as a researcher,[3] and he had a good number of notable students, including Sir Joseph Larmor, theoretical physicist who served as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge; Charles Parsons, the inventor of the turbine; Sir John Henry MacFarland, who became Chancellor of Melbourne University; and William McFadden Orr.[4]


  1. ^ Hughes 2006, p. 37.
  2. ^ Flood 2006, pp. 203–204.
  3. ^ O'Connor & Robertson, MacTutor History of Mathematics.
  4. ^ Newmann 2014, p. web.


  • Hughes, David (2006). "A Bottle of Guinness Please": The Colourful History of Guinness. Phimboy. ISBN 978-0-9553713-0-1.
  • Flood, Raymond (2006). "Mathematics in Victorian Ireland". BSHM Bulletin. 21 (3): 200–211. doi:10.1080/17498430600964433. ISSN 1749-8430.

External links[edit]