Smith, Archibald (DNB00)

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SMITH, ARCHIBALD (1813–1872), mathematician, born on 10 Aug. 1813 at Greenhead, Glasgow, was the only son of James Smith (1782–1867) [q. v.], merchant, of Glasgow, by his wife Mary, daughter of Alexander Wilson, professor of astronomy in Glasgow University. Archibald entered Glasgow University in 1828, and distinguished himself in classics, mathematics, and physics. He proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, whence he graduated B.A. in 1836 and M.A. in 1839. In 1836 he was senior wrangler and first Smith's prizeman, and was elected a fellow of Trinity College. He entered the society of Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar in Hilary term 1841. He practised for many years as an equity draughtsman in Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, and became an eminent real-property lawyer. While still an undergraduate Smith communicated to the Cambridge Philosophical Society a paper on Fresnel's wave-surface, in which he deduced its algebraical equations by the symmetrical method, one of the first instances of its employment in analytical geometry in England. In November 1837, in conjunction with Duncan Farquharson Gregory [q. v.], he founded the Cambridge ‘Mathematical Journal.’ Between 1842 and 1847 Smith, at the request of General Sir Edward Sabine [q. v.], deduced from Poisson's general equation practical formulæ for the correction of observations made on board ship, which Sabine published in the ‘Transactions’ of the Royal Society. In 1851 he deduced convenient tabular forms from the formulæ, and in 1859 he edited the ‘Journal of a Voyage to Australia,’ by William Scoresby the younger [q. v.], giving in the introduction an exact formula for the effect of the iron of a ship on the compass. In 1862, in conjunction with Sir Frederick John Owen Evans [q. v.], he published an ‘Admiralty Manual for ascertaining and applying the Deviations of the Compass caused by the Iron in a Ship’ (London, 8vo). This work was translated into French, German, Russian, and Spanish. In recognition of his services Smith received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the university of Glasgow in 1864, and in the following year was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Society, of which he had been elected a fellow on 5 June 1856. In 1872 he received a grant of 2,000l. from government. In addition he was elected a corresponding member of the scientific committee of the imperial Russian navy. Smith died in London on 26 Dec. 1872. In 1853 he married Susan Emma, daughter of Sir James Parker of Rothley Temple, Leicestershire. By her he had six sons and two daughters. His eldest son, James Parker Smith, is M.P. for the Partick division of Lanarkshire. A portrait is prefixed to the Russian edition of the ‘Manual on the Deviation of the Compass.’

Besides the works mentioned, Smith was the author of: 1. ‘Supplement to the Rules for ascertaining the Deviations of the Compass caused by the Ship's Iron,’ London, 1855, 8vo. 2. ‘A Graphic Method of correcting the Deviations of a Ship's Compass,’ London, 1855, 8vo.

[Proceedings of the Royal Society, vol. xxii. App. pp. i–xxiv; biographical sketch prefixed to the Russian edition of Smith's Manual on the Deviation of the Compass, St. Petersburg, 1865; Ward's Men of the Reign; Irving's Book of Scotsmen; Law Times, 11 Jan. 1873; Gent. Mag. 1867, i. 393; Burke's Landed Gentry, 8th edit.; Luard's Grad. Cantabr.]

E. I. C.