Andrew Barclay was for many years well known in the teaching profession in Scotland. Barclay was a pupil at Hawick Parish School for nine years before matriculating as a student at the University of Edinburgh in 1871. He was awarded an M.A. in 1880. He specialised in mathematics and, after graduating, taught for a period in George Watson's College, Edinburgh. During this period he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 4 January 1886. He was proposed for the fellowship by Alexander Crum Brown, John Sturgeon Mackay, George Chrystal, and Sir Thomas Muir. He moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1892 when he was appointed to the teaching staff of Glasgow High School.
Barclay was prominent in the Glasgow and West of Scotland Branch of the Teachers' Guild and, for example, in December 1899 he chaired a meeting of the Guild in the Christian Institute, Bothwell Street, Glasgow. He retired from the post of head mathematical master in 1914 shortly before the start of World War I, and was made a Justice of the Peace for Glasgow in November of that year. Later he went to reside with a son, a chartered accountant, who lived in London. In 1936 the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh sent him their felicitations on his continuous membership of the Society for fifty years.
The Edinburgh Mathematical Society was founded in February 1883 and it was Barclay together with Alexander Yule Fraser, also a mathematics master at George Watson's College at the time, together with Cargill Gilston Knott, an Assistant to the Professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh University, who issued a circular 'to gentlemen in Edinburgh, in Cambridge and throughout Scotland generally whom they deemed likely to take an interest in such a Society' calling for a Mathematical Society to be set up. The circular read as follows:
EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY,Barclay became a founder member of the Society and was the third President of the Society in 1884.
JANUARY 23, 1883.
We, the undersigned, beg to call your attention to the following proposal, in the hope that you will find it in your power to give it your support:-
It is proposed to establish, primarily in connection with the University, a Society for the mutual improvement of its members in the Mathematical Sciences, pure and applied.
Amongst the methods by which this object might be attained may be mentioned: Reviews of works both British and Foreign, historical notes, discussion of new problems or new solutions, and comparison of the various systems of teaching in different countries, or any other means tending to the promotion of mathematical Education.
It is suggested that the Society be formed, in the first instance, of all those who shall give in their names on or before February 2, 1883, and who are (1) present or former students in either of the Advanced Mathematical Classes of Edinburgh University, (2) Honours Graduates in any of the British Universities, or (3) recognised Teachers of Mathematics; and that, after the above mentioned date, members be nominated and elected by ballot in the usual manner.
It may be added that Professors Tait and Chrystal have expressed themselves as highly favourable to the project, as one that may lead to important results.
If there are any of your friends who might take an interest in the Society, kindly inform them of its objects, and invite them to attend the Preliminary Meeting, to be held in the MATHEMATICAL CLASS ROOM here, on Friday, February 2,1883, at Eight p.m., at which meeting your presence is respectively requested.
CARGILL G. KNOTT, D.Sc.(Edin.), F.R.S.E.
A. J. G. BARCLAY, M.A.(Edin.).
A. Y. FRASER, M.A.(Aberdeen).
He died on Wednesday 15 September 1943 in his 95th year. The following announcement of his death appeared in the Press:-
Death of Former Watson's College Teacher
The death occurred in London on Wednesday of Mr Andrew Jeffrey Gunion Barclay, who was for many years well known in the teaching profession in Scotland. Mr Barclay, who specialised in mathematics, taught for a period in George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and afterwards, from 1892, in Glasgow High School, retiring from the post of head mathematical master shortly before the last war, when he went to reside with a son, a chartered accountant, in London. He was in his 95th year. A keen golfer, he was a former captain of Western Gailes club.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson