William Peddie

Born: 31 May 1861 in Papa Westray, Orkney, Scotland
Died: 2 June 1946 in Ninewells, Dundee, Scotland

William Peddie's father was John Peddie (born in Methven, Perthshire about 1813) who was the minister of Papa Westray Free Church. His mother was Marion S Beashe (born in Bathgate, Linlithgow about 1831). William Peddie had an older sister Marion (born 1860) and a younger brother David (born 1963).

William Peddie attended Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney, and then studied at the University of Edinburgh, being awarded a B.Sc. in 1887 and then a D.Sc. in the following year. He was appointed as an Assistant in Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University in 1883 becoming a Lecturer in 1892. He remained in this post until appointed as Professor of Physics at University College, Dundee, in 1907. He held this post until 1942. While in Dundee he oversaw the building of the Carnegie Physics Laboratory - this building still stands in the Geddes Quadrangle on campus. He married Jessie Isabella Dott (born in Edinburgh about 1864) in 1891.

His publications include Manual of Physics (1891), The Elementary Dynamics of Solids and Fluids (1909), Colour Vision (1922), and Molecular Magnetism (1929). He wrote on mathematics and thermodynamics and equipatition of energy. He also carried out experiments on the properties of metals when twisted, colour (a subject on which he became an authority) and also wrote on magnetism.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 7 March 1887 having been proposed by Peter Guthrie Tait, Sir Thomas Muir, George Chrystal, and Alexander Crum Brown. He served the Society as Councillor 1904-7, 1908-11, 1933-6, and as Vice-President 1919-22. He was awarded the Society's Makdougall-Brisbane Prize for 1896-8

Peddie was awarded an honorary LL D from the University of St Andrews.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

July 2007
MacTutor History of Mathematics