James Archibald's father was William Archibald (born in Liberton, Lanarkshire, Scotland about 1837) who was a gardener. His mother was Jane Porteous Archibald (born in Yarrow, Selkirkshire about 1833). he had siblings: Isabella (born about 1865) William (born about 1868), Richard (born about 1870) and Janet (born about 1874).
On Thursday, 26th June 1924 the following report appeared in The Scotsman. It gives details of James Archibald's education and subsequent career:
Presentation to an Edinburgh Headmaster.
Mr James Archibald, MA, F.R.S.E., until recently headmaster of Dalry School, Edinburgh, has been made the recipient of gifts from the pupils and staff of the school, and from associates during his career as a teacher Mr Herbert, acting head master, made the presentation. Mr Archibald had a serious breakdown in health during the winter, and this has necessitated his giving up active service. Beginning as a pupil-teacher in Stockbridge School, Edinburgh, he entered the Training College and Edinburgh University, where he had a distinguished career. Having served in various schools as assistant and first assistant, he was appointed headmaster, of St Bernard's School in 1905, where he remained till 1918, when he was promoted to the headmastership of Dalry School. For many years Mr Archibald was an active and enthusiastic member of the Mathematical Society. He had 47 years' service as a teacher, first under the Edinburgh School Board; and later under the Education Authority.
Archibald was educated at Northern District School for four years, then at Stockbridge School for two years, and finally two further years at North Canongate School. He first matriculated at the University of Edinburgh in 1881 and graduated M.A. in 1889.
He joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in December 1889. He was Treasurer of the Society during 1899-1905, then President for session 1906-07. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 24 June 1907. He was proposed for the fellowship by John Alison, Alexander Morgan, George Alexander Gibson, and William Peddie.
Archibald's death was reported in The Scotsman on Tuesday, 17th November 1925:
Death of Edinburgh ex-Headmaster.
The death occurred yesterday morning, at his residence, 31 Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh, of Mr James Archibald F.R.S.E., formerly headmaster of Dalry Road Public School. Mr Archibald retired a year and a half ago, after spending 45 years as a teacher in Edinburgh. He was keenly interested in mathematics, and for many years acted as treasurer of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, of which Society he was an ex-president. He was an enthusiastic worker in Roseburn United Free Church, which he acted as session clerk, He was also an examiner under the United Free Church Bursary Committee. Only last month he returned from a six months' visit to Canada and the United States of America.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson