Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tate, Thomas

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TATE, THOMAS (1807–1888), mathematician, born at Alnwick on 28 Feb. 1807, was son of Ralph Tate, a builder. His mother's maiden name was Turner, and his full name was Thomas Turner Tate. George Tate (1805–1871) [q. v.] was his brother. It was intended that he should take up the business of his father, and as a qualification he studied under an architect in Edinburgh; but on his father's death he turned to more congenial pursuits, and in 1835 obtained the appointment of lecturer on chemistry to the York medical school. In 1840 he became master of the mathematical and scientific department of Battersea training college, and in 1849 obtained a like post in Kneller training college. When this college was broken up in 1856 a pension was assigned him. He was elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society on 14 March 1851. He died at his residence, 51 Catherine Street, Liverpool, on 18 Feb. 1888, and was buried at Highgate, London. He was twice married; his second wife survived him. Three children were living at the date of his death.

Tate made many original and valuable researches in mathematical and experimental science. He contributed articles to the 'Philosophical Magazine,' and, in conjunction with Sir William Fairbairn, was the author of memoirs, published in the transactions of the Royal Society, on the vapour-tension of superheated steam, the strength of materials in relation to the construction of iron ships, the strength of glass tubes, and the elasticity of sulphuric acid. He was the inventor of the double-piston air-pump that is known by his name.

Tate was the author of numerous educational works on mathematics, mechanics, drawing, and natural science, all tending to promote intellectual methods of instruction. His 'Principles of Geometry, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Land Surveying, and Levelling' (London, 1848, 12mo) was translated into: Hindustani. His 'Philosophy of Education' (London, 1854, 8vo) reached a third edition in 1860. From 1853 to 1855, in company with James Tilleard, he edited the 'Educational Expositor,' a work designed to assist schoolmasters and teachers. In 1856 he began to publish 'Mathematics for Working Men,' London, 8vo, but only one part appeared.

[Tate's History of Alnwick; private information; Times, 2 March 1888; Liverpool Courier, March 1888; Todhunter's History of the Theory of Electricity, passim; Pole's Life of Fairbairn, 1877, pp. 211, 270, 273, 421.]

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