Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bryce, James (1806-1877)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07
Bryce, James (1806-1877) by no contributor recorded
1317813Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07 — Bryce, James (1806-1877)1886no contributor recorded

BRYCE, JAMES, the younger (1806–1877), schoolmaster and geologist, was the third: son of James Bryce (1767–1857) [q. v.] and of Catherine Annan of Auchtermuchty in Fifeshire, and was born at Killaig, near Coleraine, 23 Oct. 1806. He was educated first by his father and eldest brother (the Rev. Dr. Bryce, still living), and afterwards at the university of Glasgow, where he graduated B.A. in 1828, having highly distinguished himself in classical studies. He had intended to study for the bar, but, finding this beyond his means, adopted the profession of teaching, and became mathematical master in the Belfast Academy, a foundation school of considerable more in Ulster. In 1836 he married Margaret, daughter of James Young of Abbeyville, county Antrim, and in 1840 was appointed to the high school of Glasgow, the ancient public grammar school of that city, and held this office till his resignation in 1874. He was a brilliant and successful teacher both of mathematics and geography, but his special interest lay in the study of natural history. He devoted himself to geological researches, first in the north of Ireland, and afterwards in Scotland and northern England. He began in 1834 to write and publish articles on the fossils of the lias, greensand, and chalk beds in Antrim (the first appeared in the 'Philosophical Magazine' for that year), and these having attracted the notice of Sir R. Murchison and Sir C. Lyell led to his election as a fellow of the Geological Societies of London and Dublin. His more important papers (among which may be found the first complete investigation and description of the structure of the Giant's Causeway) appeared in the 'Transactions' of the London society, others in the 'Proceedings' of the Natural History Society of Belfast and of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow, of which he was more than once president. He also wrote 'A Treatise on Algebra,' which went through several editions, an introduction to 'Mathematical Astronomy and Geography.' 'A Cyclopædia of Geography,' and a book on 'Arran and the other Clyde Islands,' with special reference to their geology and antiquities. He was a warm advocate of the more general introduction into schools of the teaching of natural history as well as natural science, and set the example of giving teaching voluntarily in these subjects, for which there was in his day no regular provision in the high schools of Scotland. In 1868 he received from his university, in the reform of which he had borne a leading part, the honorary degree of LL.D. After resigning his post at Glasgow, he settled in Edinburgh, and published his later contributions to geology in the 'Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.' He was a keen and accurate observer, and, having an ardent love of nature and great physical activity, continued his field work in the highlands of Scotland with unflagging zeal to the end of his life. While examining a remarkable mass of eruptive granite at Inverfarigaig, on the shores of Loch Ness, he disturbed some loose stones by the strokes of his hammer, and caused the blocks above to fall on him, killing him instantaneously, 11 July 1877. He was then past seventy, but in the full enjoyment of his mental as well as physical powers.

[Infomation from the family.]