Talk:Senior Wrangler (University of Cambridge)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former featured list Senior Wrangler (University of Cambridge) is a former featured list. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page and why it was removed. If it has improved again to featured list standard, you may renominate the article to become a featured list.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
September 18, 2008 Peer review Reviewed
September 29, 2008 Featured list candidate Promoted
October 7, 2014 Featured list removal candidate Demoted
Current status: Former featured list
WikiProject University of Cambridge (Rated List-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of the University of Cambridge Wikiproject, an attempt to improve articles relating to the University of Cambridge, and to standardize and extend the coverage of the University in the encyclopedia. If you would like to participate, you can help us by editing the article attached to this notice, or you could visit the project page, where you can join the project, learn more about it, see what needs to be done, or contribute to the discussion.
 List  This article has been rated as List-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Mathematics (Rated List-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject Mathematics
This article is within the scope of WikiProject Mathematics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Mathematics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Mathematics rating:
List Class
Low Importance
 Field:  Mathematicians (historical)

Pólya did so, and to Hardy's surprise, received the highest mark[edit]

Why was this 'surprising', for crying out loud?

The reason for Hardy's surprise was because Pólya was a renowned problemist and by the 1920s, partly on Hardy's urging, excelling in the examinations had become less dependent on a candidate's skill at solving problems. Caiuswizard (talk) 19:17, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
Also because Polya hadn't spent the past three years exclusively studying for the examination unlike many of the Senior Wrangler candidates. Professional mathematicians tend to work in certain areas and it's easy to become rusty at solving problems in topics that they haven't looked at since their undergraduate days.TheMathemagician (talk) 01:00, 10 December 2016 (UTC)

Proxime Accessit[edit]

The table seems to be in contention with Cambridge usage, as in Venn's listing of graduates of the University, in that in numbering of the Wranglers the size of a bracketed group was taken into account; thus, in 1887, when four candidates were bracketed Senior Wrangler, the next was Fifth Wrangler, not Second Wrangler. There is, of course, a term that covers the Wrangler(s) coming next after the Senior Wrangler(s) that would certainly be used in other circumstances: Proxime Accessit. Why not use it?

Image copyright problem with Image:Young Donald MacAlister.jpg[edit]

The image Image:Young Donald MacAlister.jpg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --10:42, 5 November 2008 (UTC)


This Henry Goulburn is the father of the 2nd Wrangler of 1835 - [1]. Can someone fix this? Occuli (talk) 19:54, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Hallifax in 1754[edit]

s:Hallifax, Samuel (DNB00) actually says he was third Wrangler. Charles Matthews (talk) 18:27, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

I just checked Venn and it says he graduated BA in 1754, but doesn't list him as a wrangler at all. Very strange. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 23:00, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
The natural source to check would be the Historical Register, which the article already uses as a reference. On page 446 of the book (page 470 of the 43MB PDF linked from the article) there is an explanatory footnote: "Moved up to 2nd; he was 3rd on the list as it stood before the 'honorary optimes' were added.". The honorary optimes are further discussed on pages 350-351 (374-375 of the PDF); Christopher Wordsworth's Scholae Academicae has an appendix on them. Joseph Myers (talk) 00:49, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
How did adding people to the list raise anyone's position in the ranking? Caiuswizard (talk) 19:25, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Fawcett in 1890[edit]

Should we put that Phillipa Fawcett ranked "ahead of the Senior Wrangler" within the 1890 entry instead of the easily-overlooked footnote? (talk) 02:49, 17 January 2010 (UTC) Maureen Craig

--Okay, I just added it.

FA Review[edit]

This doe not look like a featured list. It has tags, and is not complete. I appreciate the difficulties in finding the more recent ones, but perhaps it would be better to omit those than cannot be properly sourced. It has lost some of the compact appeal of the version that was promoted. Jamesx12345 (talk) 21:08, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Agreed. The older version you linked to was well-written and compact, whereas the current version has since acquired lots of extraneous stuff that probably shouldn't be here. I have particular misgivings about the list of post-1909 Senior Wranglers - it's incomplete and in many cases unsourced. Picking one example at random, that of Brian Molony (1914), we find the following remark:
According to the Wikipedia article Senior Wrangler (University of Cambridge) accessed 21 Oct 2012, Brian Molony was the Senior Wrangler (i.e. top mathematical scholar of the University) in 1914. The only source quoted by Wikipedia is this Saxon Lodge website. The claim is difficult to verify, because the University ceased publishing the rankings of the Mathematical Tripos in 1910.
The Molony reference goes to 'CBM' - what does that stand for?Budapesthappy (talk) 10:58, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I think this is entirely salvageable, though, so let's discuss how. I'm tempted to suggest the deletion of that entire post-1909 section, or at the very least splitting it off into a separate article of some sort. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 22:20, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
One idea might be to remove the featured list tag, given the non-completeness. The Senior Wrangler meme continues to thrive, so the post-1909 section should remain, albeit to contain names that are well sourced, and perhaps an occasional tagged one where reasonable hope exists of finding a better source. Inevitably the post-1909 list will be incomplete. That aside, the present version stands up well in terms of writing quality and organisation.Budapesthappy (talk) 10:58, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I think this is an excellent article, which deserves to contain all of its current contents, but that it is not properly categorisable as a 'list' article.Caiuswizard (talk) 11:12, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Agreed; superb article. One idea might be to extract the 1748-1909 list and make it into a separate list page (with featured status), entitled something like List of Senior Wranglers (Cambridge), 1748-1909. Leave the 'since 1910' list in the section it's in at the moment. Might that satisfy everyone? The lede already mentions a good number of pre-1910 Senior Wranglers. I'd also be okay with Budapesthappy's suggestion.Mhairis (talk) 18:04, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
At the time this article got featured list status, it was called something like List of Wranglers (University of Cambridge) and only consisted of a relatively short introductory section followed by the 1748-1909 list. Then the introductory section got expanded and people started adding in post-1910 wranglers, and at some point it got renamed to Senior Wrangler (University of Cambridge) because it had turned into an article by that stage.
So, following on from Mhairis' suggestion, given that the 1748-1909 list was a featured list, and given that there's still a well-sourced, complete list in here (if we discount the rather patchy and poorly-sourced post-1910 section), how about we take out almost all of the (well-sourced) historical material and combine it with the Wrangler (University of Cambridge) article (there's a lot of overlap anyway), keep the well-sourced pre-1910 list and rename it to List of Senior Wranglers (University of Cambridge), 1748-1909, and either put the incomplete post-1910 list into a separate article (List of Senior Wranglers (University of Cambridge) since 1910), or dump it entirely (the lack of official recognition of post-1910 Senior Wranglers by the University could put us close to WP:OR territory if we're not careful). -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 06:44, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
OR could feasibly be invoked with regard to the 1748-1909 list too (verifiability does not preclude it), but I think we should be lenient on this for both periods. I also think that if there's a case for a list of Senior Wranglers, there's also a case for an article on them. It's a good article as it stands, with sufficient well-sourced content outside of the list sections, and sufficient importance of topic, to justify its existence; it's just in need of a tweak because it's trying to do two jobs and there's a justified question mark over its 'featured list' status. The Wrangler article could certainly do with an overhaul. I'm sure some readers wonder why on earth the word 'wrangler' is used.Caiuswizard (talk) 22:42, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
I think the 1748-1909 list is safe from WP:OR, as it's all taken from John Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses, which surely counts as a "reliable, published source". The citations for many of the post-1909 Senior Wranglers are things like self-published websites, individual academics' CVs and so forth, which aren't really on the same level.
I certainly agree that we should have an article on Wranglers, but there already is one (Wrangler (University of Cambridge)) and it contains pretty much all of the non-list content of this article. So I guess we could either merge everything into a single article, or keep them separate. If we're going to do the latter (which at the moment is my preferred option, although I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise) then I think we should delete most of the duplicated content from this article (leaving just a short introductory section), and rename it back to something like List of Senior Wranglers (University of Cambridge). I'm also slightly in favour of splitting the (complete, well-cited) pre-1910 list and the (incomplete, less well-cited) post-1909 list into separate articles, but again am open to being convinced otherwise. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 06:26, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I propose that we have three articles: a list of 1748-1909 SWs and 2Ws, an article on Ws, and an article on SWs. Specifically SW material should be removed from the W article, which in any case needs an overhaul. If one of W and SW is not up to scratch at the moment, it's W. The category of SW is sufficiently notable to have its own (non-list) article. The incompleteness and lower cite quality of the post-1909 list makes it ineligible for featured list status, but I think it's fine to leave it in SW, improved where possible and pruned where appropriate.Elephantwood (talk) 10:45, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I think three articles is the way to go, with the long list called List of Senior Wranglers and Second Wranglers (University of Cambridge). Some of the material in Warwick looks very suitable for the W article, including on the history of the use of Newton's Principia at Cambridge.Mhairis (talk) 07:45, 24 April 2013 (UTC)


How about some more details on the history? Today's 9am balcony ritual started in the 1860s. Before then, the results were put up on a pillar. Can someone help with this?Mhairis (talk) 18:04, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

My best estimate of when the lists started to be read is 1863, but citing such a date in a proper way is another matter. Warwick (page 202, footnote 57) gives evidence of the lists being posted in 1861 but read by 1865, while Everett (available from Google Books, and quoted in the History of the University, volume 3, pages 179-181) gives an account of the lists being read in a year that may be deduced to be 1863 (and the History of the University makes that deduction). In further support of the 1863 date, Romilly's diary (MS Add 6841) for Fri 30 Jan 1863 says "Walk to Sen. H. to hear the Honors published at 9 o'cl. Profusions of lists were showered from the galleries & there was great pushing & hustling." while for Fri 24 Jan 1862 (MS Add 6840.2) it does not mention how published but says "the publishg of the List is now at 9 (not as of old at 8)". (I haven't checked if either or both of those entries is included in the published extracts from Romilly's diary; the quotes there are from my notes from examining the manuscript diaries when investigating this question a few years ago.) Joseph Myers (talk) 19:21, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks - great stuff. Do you know when the hat-tipping started? One of the 1970s SWs heard the news on a postcard from his tutor. Mhairis (talk) 07:11, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
I've checked my notes for each year I've been to the reading (1998 onwards) but when I noted the identity of the Senior Wrangler I didn't generally note anything about whether / how this was indicated in the ceremony. So I don't have anything to give information about earlier dates than those (2004, 2005) in the discussion at Talk:Wrangler (University of Cambridge)#Doffing Caps - and in any case, nothing that could be cited as a published reliable source at all. (I do remember the 1999 reading of the Part III list announcing Ben Green's result along the lines of "with distinction magna cum laude".) Joseph Myers (talk) 10:15, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Women, and Old and New Colleges[edit]

A few years ago a woman came second, but since 1909 has a woman ever been Senior Wrangler? And has a Senior Wrangler ever come from a 'new' college, or have they all been at 'old' colleges, or, in the case of at least one person (maybe exactly one), non-collegiate? Wellybootsole (talk) 18:50, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

A woman at Churchill, which is a new college, was Second Wrangler in 2010. The two people I know who are mines of information about Senior Wranglers say they are unaware of any woman who came first, other than Philippa Fawcett, but that's as far as they will go. If a woman ever did, she and everyone who knew must have kept the news remarkably quiet. Budapesthappy (talk) 07:00, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
Answering my own question here - Ruth Hendry was Senior Wrangler in 1992. She may be the only woman Senior Wrangler ever.Wellybootsole (talk) 16:36, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

Better sources for these Senior Wranglers since 1909?[edit]

The following people have been Senior Wranglers since 1909, but sufficiently reliable sources have not yet been found to justify their inclusion in the main article. Anyone who finds such sources, please tell us here and edit the main article accordingly. Thanks!

  • Tripos results are published in the journal Cambridge University Reporter, in a special issue called 'class lists'. The Senior Wrangler is starred, I recall. It's not published online, presumably for privacy reasons. Paper copies are archived around the university (libraries and senate house). matt me (talk) 22:36, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Year Senior Wrangler College
194? Hobson, DavidDavid Hobson[1] Christ's
194? Peter Swinnerton-Dyer[2] Trinity
1952 Polkinghorne, JohnJohn Polkinghorne Trinity
195? Hall, MichaelMichael Hall[3] Trinity
196? Myerscough, ColinColin Myerscough[4] Churchill
1977 Moody, GlynGlyn Moody[5][6] Trinity
1982 Christopher Budd[7] St John's
1992 Ruth Hendry [8] Queens'
1993 Dowker, IanIan Dowker Trinity
1996 Essex, David W.David W. Essex[9] Trinity
1997 Barnard, Alexander G.Alexander G. Barnard Trinity
1998 Green, Ben JosephBen Joseph Green[10] Trinity
1999 Paul Russell Peterhouse
2002 Jeremy Young Trinity
2003 Barnet-Lamb, ThomasThomas Barnet-Lamb[11] Trinity
2004 David Loeffler[12] Trinity
2005 Timothy Austin[13] Trinity
2006 Antonio Lei[14] Trinity
2010 Zihan Hans Liu[15] Trinity


  1. ^ "David Hobson: senior partner of Coopers & Lybrand (obituary)". The Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Sir Peter is Unhorsed". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  3. ^ "F M Hall (1935–2005) (obituary)". Shrewsbury School. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  4. ^ "University Awards as listed on the Honours Boards in the Queen's Hall". Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Seven things people didn't know about me". Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  6. ^ "(correction by author)". Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  7. ^ "Chris Budd". Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  8. ^ "Ruth Hendry". Retrieved 2013-25-08.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ "The Cambridge IA Mathematical Tripos". Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  10. ^ "Mathematical biography of Ben Green" (PDF). Clay Mathematics Institute. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  11. ^ "The 46th International Mathematical Olympiad in Mexico". Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  12. ^ "David Loeffler" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  13. ^ "Getting a First.." Retrieved 2011-02-013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  14. ^ "The Master's Commemoration Speech", Trinity College Cambridge Annual Record 2006-2007, 16 March 2007 
  15. ^ "Zihan Hans Liu" (PDF). Institute of International Education. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 

Other names which have been suggested (with sufficient probability of correctness to justify mention here) include:

Caiuswizard (talk) 21:01, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Added Colin Myerscough. Deftlymagdalene (talk) 15:36, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Removed John Scholes. He surely would have mentioned it at his Linked In page.Wellybootsole (talk) 05:16, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Removed Kevin Buzzard, who mentions it in his CV available on the web.

Can someone post this information please?[edit]

Please feel free to add to the following questions as well as answer them!

1) Who was the 2006 Senior Wrangler? It was someone on the British IMO team.

If someone can post the 2006 name, we'll then have them going back to 1996. The next gaps are for 1995, 1994 and 1991.

2) Who was it in 1991? The person was at Jesus and wasn't on the British IMO team.

3) Was PT Johnstone really Senior Wrangler? Or is it just something that isn't denied?

All info welcome, including snippets. Mhairis (talk) 13:04, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Since Cambridge University had an article on the Senior Wrangler of 2014,, there is reason to believe they would have a record of Senior Wranglers from earlier years and after 1909. Cambridge would be a WP:verifiable/WP:Reliable and definitive source for who the Senior Wranglers are. I'm off for today but perhaps someone else could continue looking. (Littleolive oil (talk) 17:35, 7 September 2014 (UTC))
Thanks! I have added Antonio Lei's name and the source to the list on this talk page, pending what I hope will be a consensus that they should go onto the main page. I have not got access to the UL (Cambridge University Library, for the uninitiated), but if someone could spare the time to do as you suggest I think they would do the main page a great service. Mhairis (talk) 16:37, 23 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Trinity College Cambridge Annual Record 2006-2007, The Master's Commemoration Speech (16 March 2007, so talking about results from 2006), page 7 states "Antonio Lei topped the Maths Tripos". Generally, I suggest checking such publications to try to find reliable published sources for putative names; the UL should have most or all such College alumni publications in the Cam collection (Rare Books Room). Joseph Myers (talk) 17:43, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Senior Wranglers since 1910[edit]

This section is currently full of spurious names with no or poor references. I shall be going through it to remove these. Please restore when reliable references are found. Keeping them there fails WP:BLP, WP:V and WP:NOR. (talk) 22:27, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Just gone through it: some of it was terrible to see. A 'Twitter post' asserting to be senior wrangler is not good enough! There are some remaining with poorer-quality references, but I have left them there because they are of a better standard than, say, a CV or a doubtful personal letter. (talk) 22:47, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
See thread directly above.(Littleolive oil (talk) 17:53, 7 September 2014 (UTC))
I'm uncomfortable with the removal of Ruth Hendry's name from the list, and not least because it keeps being done by an anonymous editor who seems to be getting quite cross about this specific case and no others. Yes, the scanned letter technically counts as self-published because it's on her personal website, but it's at least as official as some of the other sources that remain unchallenged, so my vote is that we allow it. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 11:41, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
In that case, the other names should also be removed, not just this name reinstated. I have removed numerous names, it just happens that Miss Hendry is the only person to have reinserted her own name repeatedly. (talk) 19:20, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Twice - the second time with what she clearly understood to be a valid source. AndyTheGrump (talk) 19:29, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Could the IP explain further. I'm not sure what removal of names has to do with a suggestion to reinstate a name (Littleolive oil (talk) 19:36, 8 September 2014 (UTC))
Nicholas Jackson suggested above that I have focused on 'this specific case and no others'. I attempted to explain that I removed multiple names, not just Miss Hendry's, but the situation with Miss Hendry has only continued because she reinstated her name. I apologise if this was not made clear: English is not my first language. (talk) 23:23, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
If you disagree with the validity of the additional source Dr Hendry provided, then you should assume good faith and explain why you don't think it's suitable. Instead, you reverted her edits, accused her of violating Wikipedia editing policies, and announced that you'd reported her account. At best, this is unfriendly to a new editor, and certainly not conducive to a harmonious resolution of this issue.
I certainly agree that some of the entries on the list have dubious supporting evidence (eg LinkedIn or Twitter), and there is a more general difficulty with citations for the post-1910 list, but I think that when we have someone who is actually trying to engage with the discussion and provide suitable sources, then repeated anonymous reversion of their edits, and reporting of their account, is neither a welcoming nor a helpful way to behave. So, can you explain why you don't feel the additional source, a scan of an official letter signed by an appropriate member of academic staff at Cambridge, is sufficient?
Also, in the interests of transparency (see also WP:SOCK), perhaps you'd be good enough to clarify whether you ( and the other anonymous user ( are the same person or not. -- Dr Nicholas Jackson (talk) 14:41, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
The bit about removing other names refers to where Mr Jackson wrote 'some of the other sources that remain unchallenged': I meant it is appropriate to challenge and remove these if necessary than to turn a blind eye to Miss Hendry. To be frank, considering this is a featured list, some of the entries have been deeply concerning. Names were removed that were referenced by Twitter posts and Linkedin profiles. (talk) 23:26, 8 September 2014 (UTC)


Between 2000 and 2008, nine out of nine SWs were at Trinity. Between 2009 and 2014, only two out of six were.

There were non-Trinity SWs in both 2013 and 2014. The last time before then that that occurred could not have been earlier than 1901-02 or later than 1994-95.Budapesthappy (talk) 12:32, 29 September 2014 (UTC)