Peter Guthrie Tait (1831-1901)

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Professor of Natural Philosophy

Educated at the Edinburgh Academy and the University of Cambridge, where he was Senior Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman, Peter Guthrie Tait was appointed to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh in 1860. He had held the Chair of Mathematics at Queen's College Belfast since 1854, and had been a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge since 1852. He served many years as Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and wrote a number of textbooks on different physics subjects, notably "A Treatise on Natural Philosophy", 2 volumes, 1867-1883 (in association with William Thomson, Lord Kelvin) which ran to many later editions. In 1873 he purchased the house at no 38 George Square, Edinburgh which became one of the last privately owned houses in the Square; the University purchased it from the Guthrie Tait family in 1964 to make way for the new Main Library.

In 1911 the family presented to the University Library a number of books from Peter Guthrie Tait's own library, including a first printing of Newton's "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica" (1687) inscribed from Dr Findlater to F. G. Tait in 1883. Freddie was Peter Guthrie Tait's third son; he was British Amateur Golf Champion in 1896 and 1898, and was killed in the Boer War in 1900.

All or some of the text on this page originally appeared in the Gallery of Benefactors