CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 456
TitleRobert Hamilton, Professor of Mathematics: correspondence
Date1776 - 1831
Extent171 items (0.14 linear metres)
Creator NameRobert Hamilton (1743 - 1829), Professor of Mathematics, Marischal College, Aberdeen; Political Economist, Mathematician
Administrative HistoryRobert Hamilton, LLD Edinburgh, 1775, was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Marischal College in June 1779, succeeding Patrick Copland, who had at that time been transferred to the Chair of Mathematics. Copland and Hamilton exchanged duties after a year, but the arrangement was not formalised until July 1817, when Hamilton was formally appointed Professor of Mathematics, and Copland reinstated to his original role as Professor of Natural Philosophy. Hamilton held the Chair of Mathematics until his death on 14 July 1829. He is best known for his 'Inquiry Concerning the Rise and Progress, the Reduction and Present State, and The Management of the National Debt of Great Britain and Ireland' (1813, 2nd edition 1818). Other notable works include 'Peace and War' (1790), 'Heads of a Course of Marketing' (1800) and 'Progress in Society' (1830).

Born in Edinburgh on 11 June 1743, Hamilton was the eighth son of Gavin Hamilton, bookseller, and grandson of Principal William Hamilton of Edinburgh University. He began his working life as a bank clerk in Edinburgh, followed by partnership in the management of a paper mill and appointment in 1769 to the rector-ship of Perth Academy. His first marriage to Ann Mitchell bore three children, of whom his second daughter, Helen, married Andrew Thomson of Banchory, benefactor of the University of Aberdeen, and his third, Marion, married Reverend Robert Swan. His second marriage, to Jean Morrison, took place on 8 October 1782.

[See Dictionary of National Biography; 'Fasti Academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis: Selections from the Records of the Marischal College and University, 1593 - 1860: Volume 2: Officers, Graduates and Alumni', edited by Peter John Anderson, 3 volumes (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1898); and 'Studies in the History and Development of the University of Aberdeen: A Quartercentenary Tribute Paid by Certain of Her Professors and Her Devoted Sons', edited by Peter John Anderson, Aberdeen University Studies: no. 19 (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1906).]

Alexander Thomson of Banchory, Aberdeenshire, the son of Andrew Thomson, came from a family of lawyers with a long association with Marischal College, Aberdeen. He himself graduated AM from there in 1816 and he was enrolled as an advocate in Edinburgh in 1820. Author, antiquary and philanthropist, he made many donations to the College library. In 1826 he returned to Aberdeen to become more closely involved in the College: he was Dean of Faculty in 1826, from 1852 to 1855 and in 1858, and was Rector’s Assessor in 1841, 1843, 1846 and 1848. He died in 1868.
SourceMS 451-464: from the library of Alexander Thomson of Banchory (date of deposit not recorded), via the Master of Christ's College, Aberdeen.
DescriptionCollection of correspondence addressed to Robert Hamilton principally relating to his academic career and published works.
AccrualsNone expected.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related MaterialMS 451, MS 452, MS 453, MS 454, MS 455, MS 456, MS 457, MS 458, MS 459, MS 460, MS 461, MS 462, MS 463, MS 464.
CopiesSubject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation. Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.
Publication NoteLetters and Papers of Dr Robert Hamilton, Professor of Natural Philosophy 1779-1817 and Professor of Mathematics 1817-1829 at Marischal College Aberdeen University Library. Northern Scotland, Volume 9 (1989), pp.83-85.
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