The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow


    NOT many scientific societies of the kingdom can boast of having existed for a hundred years, but the Royal Society of Edinburgh a few years ago celebrated its centenary, and last week what is now known as the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow was engaged in celebrating the attainment of its hundredth year, for it came into being on November 9,1802, with sixty-two of the most prominent men in the city as members, many of whom have since acquired prosperity and reputation. There was Dr. William Meikleham, the professor of astronomy and natural philosophy in the University, and who was Lord Kelvin's predecessor in the natural philosophy chair, so that those two men practically covered the century between them. There was also Dr. George Birkbeck, subsequently a professor in the “Andersonian,” and the founder (in London) of mechanics' institutions. Patrick Cumin, another foundation member, was the professor of Oriental languages. A particularly notable man in the membership was David Mushet, the discoverer of the famous black band ironstone which did so much to make Scotland the leading element in the creation of the iron industry. Among other original members were Charles Macintosh, who originated the “macintosh” as an article of clothing for wet weather; Mr. John Roberton, a famous iron-founder, who read many papers in subsequent years; and Mr. William Dunn, of Duntocher, a well-known machine-maker. Mr. James Boaz was an ac-c ountant; he took a warm interest in the Society, and became secretary in the year 1804, remaining in that office to the great credit of the Society for twenty-six years. Sundry other original members might be named and descanted upon, men from the very highest ranks, and who collectively made Glasgow or contributed very materially towards it, but we must refrain from doing so. Worthy John Geddes, of Verreville, glass manufacturer and potter, was an early member, and he was the second president. The Society did not publish any Proceedings or Transactions until the year 1844, after Dr. Thomas Thomson, F.R.S., had become president. That gentleman was the famous professor of chemistry in the University, and his knowledge was frequently called forth during the eighteen years that he held the office of president. Mr. Walter Crum, F.R.S., famous as a scientific calico printer, succeeded I)t. Thomson in the chair, and then there was a somewhat continuous run of University presidents, such as Dr. Allen Thomson, F.R.S., Prof. Wm. Thomson, F.R.S. (now Lord Kelvin), Prof. Thomas Anderson (distinguished as a chemist), Prof. W. J. Macquorn Rankine, C.E., F.R.S., and Prof. Henry D. Rogers (American geologist). After he had been knighted, the professor of natural philosophy was again made president for the years 1874-75-76-77. The Society was always in a position to command the services of able and learned men to take the presidential chair, and business men have always been in abundance to fill the executive offices and to discharge the duties pertaining to them for periods extending from six years (in the case of Prof. McKendrick as secretary) to upwards of thirty years, as in the case of Mr, John Mann, the present treasurer.

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    The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow . Nature 67, 70 (1902).

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