William Leslie Thomson

Born: 14 February 1868 in Selkirk, Scotland
Died: 3 October 1951 in Edinburgh, Scotland

William Leslie Thomson's father was Thomas Thomson (born in Lauder, Berwick about 1843) who was a butcher. His mother was Margaret Thomson (born Edinburgh about 1843). He had several younger siblings: Margaret (born about 1870), Beatrice (born about 1872), Thomas (born about 1874), James (born about 1877), Isabella (born about 1879) and Robert (born about 1880).

William Thomson attended school in Penicuik, then at St Andrew's School, Perth. After training at the Church of Scotland Training College in Edinburgh, he entered the University of Edinburgh to study mathematics and physics, graduating in 1891. He then was awarded a scholarship to allow him to study mathematics at Caius College, Cambridge. He was a Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos of 1894.

He married Jessie Thomson. Their daughter Lizzie was born about 1898.

Thomson became a school teacher, teaching mathematics first in in Kirkwall, then at Kilmarnock Academy. In 1899 J W Butters left George Heriot's School in Edinburgh to become Rector at the Academy in Ardrossan. Thomson was appointed to George Heriot's School to fill the vacancy and he taught there until he retired in 1928.

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

July 2007
MacTutor History of Mathematics