# Record

Authorised form of name | Whittaker; Sir; Edmund Taylor (1873 - 1956); mathematician and astronomer |

Dates | 1873 - 1956 |

Nationality | British |

Place of birth | Birkdale, Lancashire, England |

Date of birth | 24 October 1873 |

Place of death | 48 George Square, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom |

Date of death | 24/03/1956 |

Dates and places | Burial: Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom |

Occupation | mathematician and astronomer |

Research field | History of science |

Astronomy | |

Mathematics | |

Numerical analysis | |

Celestial mechanics | |

Mathematical physics | |

Applied mathematics | |

Activity | Education: Taught by his mother (1884); Manchester Grammar School; Trinity College, Cambridge (1892-1895) MA. Career: Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1896) remaining there as a teacher (1906); co-founded the series of Cambridge Tracts in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics, an influential series of short volumes designed to introduce the principal elements of specific modern developments (1905); appointed professor of astronomy in the University of Dublin, with the title of royal astronomer of Ireland (1906); elected to the professorship of mathematics at Edinburgh where he taught until his retirement in 1946 and where he achieved the institution of the first mathematical laboratory in Britain, the establishment of a research school, and the development of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society (1912). Honours: Kt 1945 Memberships: FRSE (President 1939–44) Mathematical Association (President 1920–21) British Association (1927) London Mathematical Society (1928–9) Trinity College, Cambridge (Honorary fellow 1949) Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1936) Awards/Medals: Smith Prize 1897 Gunning Prize 1929 De Morgan Medal 1935 |

Membership category | Fellow |

Date of election | 11/05/1905 |

Age at election | 32 |

Proposer | Andrew Russell Forsyth; Hrace Darwin; Robert Stawell Ball; James Whitbread Lee Glaisher; Edward John Routh; William Burnside; Ernest William Hobson; Henry rederickF Baker; Percy Alexander MacMahon |

Royal Society activity | Royal Society roles: VP 1934-1935 Council 1911–12 and 1933–5 Medals and prizes: Sylvester Medal 1931; Copley Medal 1954 |

Relationships | Parents: John Whittaker, gentleman, youngest son of the first marriage of Henry Whittaker (1780-1853) of Grindleton near Clitheroe, who was the sixth of the eight sons of Richard Whittaker of Rodhill Gate near Grindleton, and Selina Septima, daughter of Edmund Taylor, who practised as a physician at Middleton, near Manchester. Spouse: Mary Ferguson McNaghten, daughter of the Revd Thomas Boyd, of Cambridge, Scottish secretary of the Religious Tract Society; and granddaughter of Sir Thomas Jamieson Boyd. Children: Three sons and two daughters. Their second son, John McNaghten Whittaker (Jack), was professor of pure mathematics at Liverpool (1933–52) and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield (1952–65). |

Published works | RCN R67774 |

General context | Contributed to pure mathematics, specifically to the theories of interpolation, of automorphic functions, of potential theory, and of special functions. Wrote numerous philosophical and historical papers and books. Obtained a general solution of Laplace's equation. |

Royal Society Obituary or Memoir | Click to view (may be contained within a meeting notice, presidential address or list of death notices) |

Sources | Sources: Bulloch's Roll; DSB Obituaries: Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1956 vol 2 pp 299-325, plate, by G Temple References: R W Home, 'The Royal Society and the Empire: the colonial and Commonwealth Fellowship. Part 2. After 1847' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 47-84 |

Virtual International Authority File | http://viaf.org/viaf/17285013 |

Royal Society code | NA2270 |

Archives associated with this Fellow

Reference number | Title | Date |

EC/1905/15 | Whittaker, Sir Edmund Taylor: certificate of election to the Royal Society | |

MM/22/45 | Letter from Augustus Edward Hough Love, 34 St Margaret's Road, Oxford, to [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker | 31 October 1903 |

MM/22/44 | Letter from Joseph Larmor, St John's College, Cambridge, to [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker | 18 October 1902 |

MM/22/43 | Letter from Augustus Edward Hough Love, Oxford, to [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker | 15 October 1902 |

RR/19/113 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'A new treatment of optical aberrations' by Ralph Allen Sampson | [May 1912] |

NLB/17/56 | Copy letter from Arthur William Rucker, to Edmund Taylor Whittaker, [Fellow of the Royal Society] | 8 July 1898 |

NLB/16/707 | Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to E T Whittaker, Trinity College, Cambridge | 23 May 1898 |

NLB/37/757 | Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison to Professor J Larmor, Secretary of the Royal Society | 9 May 1908 |

MC/23/483 | Letter from [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker, Dunsink Observatory, Co Dublin, to Mr [Robert] Harrison, [Royal Society] | 28 May 1908 |

NLB/45/696 | Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison to Professor E [Edmund] T [Taylor] Whittaker FRS | 25 April 1912 |

NLB/51/703 | Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society to Professor Professor Edmund Taylor Whittaker FRS | 28 May 1915 |

RR/18/164 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Pendulum clocks and their errors' by Henry Reginald Arnulph Mallock | 21 June 1911 |

RR/22/11 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On certain linear differential equations of astronomical interest' by Henry Frederick Baker | June 1915 |

RR/19/67 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'A critical study of spectral series.–Part II. The p and s sequences and the atomic volume term' by William Mitchinson Hicks | [February 1912] |

RR/20/64 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'A critical study of spectral series - Part III - The atomic weight term and its import in the constitution of spectra' by William Mitchinson Hicks | June 1913 |

RR/19/115 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On a cassegrain reflector with corrected field' by Ralph Allen Sampson | [January 1913] |

RR/21/155 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Approximately permanent electronic orbits and the origin of spectral series' by George Walker Walker | [November 1914] |

RR/23/41 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker on a paper 'A critical study of spectral series - Part IV -The structure of spark spectra' by William Mitchinson Hicks | June 1916 |

RR/63/107 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On bipartitional functions' by P V Sukhatme | April 1937 |

RR/25/4 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On an expansion of the point- potential' by Arthur William Conway | [March 1918] |

RR/27/119 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Oblate spheroidal harmonics and their applications' by John William Nicholson | December 1922 |

RR/31/88 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the electric capacity of certain solids of revolution' by D M Winch | 10 February 1925 |

RR/32/116 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The electrostatic capabilities of two spheres and of two parallel cylinders' by A Russell | 24 March 1925 |

RR/35/37 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On periodic solutions of Hamiltonian systems differential equations' by Thomas MacFarland Cherry | July 1927 |

NLB/58/495 | Copy letter from James Hopwood Jeans, Secretary of the Royal Society; to [Frederick John Marrian] Stratton Esquire, FRS | 13 May 1920 |

RR/14/105 | Letter from William Burnside, to Mr Harrison, regarding a paper 'On the connexion of algebraic functions with automorphic functions' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | 9 May 1898 |

RR/29/26 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whitaker, on a paper 'On a class of transcendents of which the bessel functions are a particular case' by Percy Alexander MacMahon | June 1923 |

RR/44/129 | Referee's report by Arthur Stanley Eddington, on a paper 'On the definition of distance in curved space, and the displacement of the spectral lines of distant sources' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | July 1931 |

RR/46/105 | Second referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On Eddington's problem of the expansion of the universe by condensation' by N R Sen | [January 1933] |

RR/47/51 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The concepts of inverse probability and fiducial probability referring to unknown parameters' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher | November 1932 |

RR/52/147 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The application of substitutional analysis to invariants' by Alfred Young | September 1934 |

NLB/70/685 | Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Professor [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker, FRS | 1 July 1927 |

RR/24/91 | Referee's report by Thomas John I'Anson Bromwich and Godfrey Harold Hardy, on a paper 'On the numerical solution of integral-equations' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | 28 February 1918 |

RR/55/19 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Statistical information and properties of sufficiency' by Maurice Stevenson Bartlett | October 1935 |

RR/54/80 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The theory of Saturn's rings' by C G Pendse | September 1934 |

RR/37/148 | Referee's report by Arthur Stanley Eddington, on a paper 'On the potential of electromagnetic phenomena in a gravitational field' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | May 1928 |

RR/54/81 | Second referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The theory of Saturn's rings' by C G Pendse | October 1934 |

RR/69/234 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the conservation of momentum' by Edward Arthur Milne | 1945 |

RR/62/90 | Referee's report by Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, on a paper 'On the relations of the tensor-calculus to the spinor-calculus' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | [October 1936] |

RR/57/49 | Referee's report by Arthur Stanley Eddington, on a paper 'On Gauss' theorem and the concept of mass in general relativity' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | [January 1935] |

RR/59/52 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Relativistic wave equations' by Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac | [April 1936] |

RR/72/262 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Some theorums on pertubation theory' by E C Titchmarsh | 1949 |

RR/70/233 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The method of the hypercircle in function-space for boundary-value problems' by John Lighton Synge | 1947 |

NLB/64/723 | Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Prof. [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker. FRS | 9 June 1923 |

RR/69/110 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Some applications of the Riesz potential to the theory of the electromagnetic field and the meson field' by N E Fremberg | 1946 |

RR/69/181 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'An invariant form for the prior probability in estimation problems' by Harold Jeffreys | 1945 |

RR/68/389 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On invariant theory under restricted groups' by D E Littlewood | 29 December 1943 |

RR/72/218 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Unified field theory in six dimensions' by J Podolanski | 1949 |

RR/72/200 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The relativity of Galilean frames' by Edward Arthur Milne | 1949 |

RR/71/34 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Unified field theory in a curvature-free five-dimensional manifold' by J G Bennett, R L Brown and M W Thring | [1948] |

RR/72/81 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The velocity of sound in general relativity, with a discussion of the problem of the fluid sphere with constant velocity of sound' by A R Curtis | 1949 |

NLB/66/411 | Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Prof. [Sydney] Chapman, FRS | 3 May 1924 |

RR/38/25 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the criteria for the stability of small motions' by Robert Alexander Frazer and William Jolly Duncan | May 1929 |

RR/33/27 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Periodic orbits of the second genus near the straight-line equilibrium points in the problem of three bodies' by Daniel Buchanan | October 1926 |

RR/48/93 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Two new properties of mathematical likelihood' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher | [January 1934] |

RR/48/94 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Probability likelihood and quantity of information in the logic of uncertain inference' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher | [January 1934] |

NLB/64/751 | Copy letter from James Hopwood Jeans, Secretary of the Royal Society; to Professor [Horace] Lamb [Chairman of the Mathematics Committee] FRS | 14 June 1923 |

MM/10/12 | "On the consequences of postulating a minimum observable length in physical theory", by Sir Edmund Whittaker | 1948 |

MC/22/515 | Letter from [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker, Dunsink Observatory, Co. Dublin, to [Robert William Frederick] Harrison | 21 January 1907 |

RR/31/83 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Problems in two-dimensional electrostatics' by D M Winch | [June 1924] |

RR/34/132 | Referee's report by George Barker Jeffery, on a paper 'On Hilbert's world-function' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | [November 1926] |

RR/62/87 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On a system of functional dynamics and optics' by W H Watson | [July 1936] |

RR/68/387 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Invariant theory, tensors and group characters' by D E Littlewood | [1943] |

NLB/66/626 | Copy letter from James Hopwood Jeans, Secretary of the Royal Society; to the General Secretary, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Edinburgh | 5 June 1924 |

RR/56/84 | Second referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Linear transformations of sequences' by Richard Rado | 4 December 1935 |

NLB/66/517 | Copy letter from James Hopwood Jeans, Secretary of the Royal Society; to Prof. [Sydney] Chapman, FRS | 22 May 1924 |

NLB/66/658 | Copy letter from James Hopwood Jeans, Secretary of the Royal Society; to [Sydney] Chapman | 13 June 1924 |

RR/32/134 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Laplace's equation and surfaces of revolution' by D M Wrich and John William Nicholson | 10 February 1925 |

RR/64/67 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the relation between direct and inverse methods in statistics' by Harold Jeffreys | [March 1937] |

RR/75/198 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Some theorems on perturbation theory IV' by Edward Charles Titchmarsh | 3 August 1951 |

RR/73/52 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The structure of linear relativistic wave equations. II. Representations' by Kenneth James Le Couteur | 4 March 1950 |

RR/73/16 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Some theorems on perturbation theory. III' by Edward Charles Titchmarsh | 1950 |

RR/46/104 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On Eddington's problem of the expansion of the universe by condensation' by N R Sen | 1 July 1932 |

RR/51/131 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the independence of sums of squares in the analysis of variance' by S S Wilks | 24 April 1934 |

RR/14/104 | Referee's report by Andrew Russell Forsyth, on a paper 'On the connexion of algebraic functions with automorphic functions' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | 2 May 1898 |

RR/14/106 | Referee's report by William Burnside, on a paper 'On the connexion of algebraic functions with automorphic functions' by Edmund Taylor Whittaker | 9 May 1898 |

RR/17/397 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the nature of the diffraction figures due to the heliometer' by Philip Francis Everitt | October 1909 |

RR/17/412 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'A critical study of spectral series.— Part I. The alkalies H and He' by William Mitchinson Hicks | [December 1909] |

RR/24/74 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The electrostatic problem of a conducting sphere in a spherical cavity' by Alexander Russell | [1917] |

RR/25/20 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'A critical study of spectral series.—Part V. The spectra of the monatomic gases' by William Mitchinson Hicks | [August 1918] |

RR/31/31 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The electrification of two parallel circular discs' by John William Nicholson | [May 1924] |

RR/34/68 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'An analysis of the electromagnetic field into moving elements' by Samuel Roslington Milner | [November 1926] |

RR/38/24 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the numerical solution of equations with complex roots' by Robert Alexander Frazer and William Jolly Duncan | May 1929 |

RR/39/37 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On periodic orbits for atoms of the helium type' by D Buchanan | [October 1929] |

RR/41/15 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Mathematical properties of a continuum' by W Band | April 1930 |

RR/44/58 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the moment distributions of moments in the case of samples drawn from a limited universe' by L Isserlis | May 1931 |

RR/45/116 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the theory of errors and least squares' by Harold Jeffreys | [August 1932] |

RR/48/54 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Probability, statistics, and the theory of errors' by Harold Jeffreys | [March 1933] |

RR/49/3 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the interaction between several species of hosts and parasites' by V A Bailey | [June 1933] |

RR/49/12 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Probability and chance in the theory of statistics' by Maurice Stevenson Bartlett | [May 1933] |

RR/56/55 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Sufficient statistics and uniformly most powerful tests of statistical hypotheses' by J Neyman and Egon Sharpe Pearson | [December 1935] |

RR/56/83 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Linear transformations of sequences' by Richard Rado | 29 August 1935 |

RR/61/90 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Quaternion treatment of the relativistic wave equation' by Arthur William Conway | June 1937 |

RR/68/91 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On the significance tests for the introduction of new functions to represent measures' by Harold Jeffreys | [1941] |

RR/73/51 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The structure of the linear relativistic wave equations. I' by Kenneth James Le Couteur | 4 March 1950 |

RR/77/23 | Letter from Jacob Lionel Bakst Cooper, on a paper 'The representation of analytic functions by infinite series' by W F Newns, to D C Martin, assistant secretary of the Royal Society | 20 May 1952 |

RR/77/232 | Letter from Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'On sound waves of finite amplitude' by E T Copson, to D C Martin | 2 December 1952 |

RR/73/155 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Eigenfunction problems with periodic potentials' by [Edward Charles] Titchmarsh | 28 June 1950 |

RR/73/186 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Fermi-Dirac functions of integral order' by P Rhodes | 14 August 1950 |

NLB/37/843 | Copy Letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison to Professor E [Edmund] T [Taylor] Whittaker, Fellow of the Royal Society, Dunsink Observatory, Co. Dublin | 22 May 1908 |

RR/75/101 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Some theorems on perturbation theory III' by Edward Charles Titchmarsh | 10 April 1951 |

RR/75/122 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Spinning test-particles in general relativity. II' by E Corinaldesi and A Papapetrou | 4 June1951 |

RR/75/125 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Spinning test-particles in general relativity' by A Papapetrou | 31 May 1951 |

MC/21 | Volume 21 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society | 1906 |

MC/26/278 | Letter from [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker, Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, to Mr [Robert] Harrison, [Royal Society] | 3 October 1911 |

MC/21/656 | Letter from [Edmund Taylor] Whittaker, Cambridge, to [Robert William Frederick] Harrison | 11 June 1906 |

RR/77/88 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The reaction of Eddington's E-numbers to the tensor calculus. II. An extension of tensor transformation theory' by Samuel Roslington Milner | 29 May 1952 |

RR/77/87 | Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The relation of Eddington's E-numbers to the tensor calculus. I. The matrix form of E-numbers' by Samuel Roslington Milner | 29 May 1952 |

MC/22 | Volume 22 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society | 1907 |

## Collection highlights

Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.