Biography of James Thomson
James Thomson (1786-1849) was a graduate of the University and Professor of Mathematics from 1832 to 1849. He was awarded an LLD in 1829.
Thomson was born in County Down and matriculated to study at the University in 1810, graduating MA two years later. He intended initially to become a minister but in 1814 he was appointed to teach arithmetic, geography, and bookkeeping in the School Department of the Belfast Academical Institution, and in 1815 he became Professor of Mathematics there.
The recently-widowed Thomson took his two sons James (1822-1892) and William (1824-1907) to Glasgow in 1832, two years after his appointment to the Chair of Mathematics. He was active in University politics, championing the abolition of religious tests and supporting the cause of those who held Regius chairs in their struggle for equality with the College professors. He wrote several very successful textbooks on Mathematics, among which his Elementary Treatise on Algebra, Theoretical and Practical (1844) was particularly popular.
Thomson's sons followed him to the University: William became Professor of Natural Philosophy in 1846 and James Professor of Civil Engineering from 1872.