Frost, Percival (DNB01)

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FROST, PERCIVAL (1817–1898), mathematician, born at Kingston-upon-Hull on 1 Sept. 1817, was the second son of Charles Frost [q. v.] He was educated at Beverley and Oakham, and entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in October 1835, graduating B.A. as second wrangler in 1839 and M.A. in 1842. He was chosen first Smith prizeman in 1839, beating the senior wrangler, Benjamin Morgan Cowie [q. v. Suppl.], his fellow-collegian, and he was elected to a fellowship at St. John's College on 19 March. In 1841 he was ordained deacon, and in the same year vacated his fellowship by marriage. He held a mathematical lectureship in Jesus College from 1847 to 1859, and in King's College from 1859 to 1889; but his chief work consisted in the tuition of private pupils, among whom were Lord-justice Rigby, William Kingdon Clifford [q. v.], and Joseph Wolstenholme [q. v.]

In 1854 Frost edited the first three sections of Newton's ‘Principia’ (Cambridge, 8vo). New editions were published in 1863, 1878, and 1883. In 1863 he prepared, in conjunction with Joseph Wolstenholme, ‘A Treatise on Solid Geometry,’ of which second and third editions, by Frost alone, appeared in 1875 and 1886. ‘Hints for the Solution of Problems in the Third Edition of “Solid Geometry”’ was published in 1887. In 1872 appeared his third work, ‘An Elementary Treatise on Curve Tracing.’ On 7 June 1883 Frost was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society, and in the same year he was elected by King's College, Cambridge, to a fellowship, which he retained until his death. In 1883 Frost proceeded to the recently established degree of D.Sc.

Frost died at Cambridge on 5 June 1898, at his house in Fitzwilliam Street, and was buried on 10 June in the Mill Road cemetery. He was a man of wide interests and varied attainments, an accomplished pianoforte player, and a successful painter in water-colours. On 2 June 1841 he was married at Finchley to Jennett Louisa, daughter of Richard Dixon of Oak Lodge, Finchley.

Besides the works already mentioned, Frost was the author of numerous papers in the ‘Cambridge Mathematical Journal,’ the ‘Oxford and Cambridge Journal of Mathematics,’ and the ‘Quarterly Journal of Mathematics.’

[Proceedings of the Royal Soc. 1898–9, vol. lxiv. p. vii; Eagle, December 1898; Cambridge Review, 16 June 1898; Men and Women of the Time, 1895.]

E. I. C.