David Tweedie


Born: 20 April 1865 in Swinton School House, Swinton, Berwickshire, Scotland
Died: 22 March 1934 in Edinburgh, Scotland


David Tweedie's father was George Tweedie (born in Cleish, Kinross in 1837; died in 1905) who was a schoolmaster, inspector of the poor and registrar. His mother was Charlotte Lugton (born in Duns, Berwickshire in 1836; died in1909). He was the oldest of his parents' nine children having younger siblings: Annie (born 1866), Charles (born 1868), Euphemia (born 1870), George (born 1872), Andrew (born 1873), Charlotte (born 1875), William (born 1877), and Jessie (born 1879).

David Tweedie attended Swinton Parish School from 1869 to 1879, then George Watson's School in Edinburgh for the two years 1879-1881. He first matriculated at the University of Edinburgh in 1881 at the age of sixteen years.

Tweedie graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1886 with an M.A. with First Class Honours in Mathematics. He then continued to study there in the Faculty of Medicine for a B.Sc. (Math) which he was awarded in 1887. He became a Mathematics Master at George Watson's College, Edinburgh. In March 1892 Tweedie joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. He played a major role in the Society and was Honorary Treasurer from 1895 to 1898. He continued to be a member of the Society, but his administrative role had to come to an end in 1898 since he went to Egypt to work at the Ras-el-Tin Government School in Alexandria. Gamal Abdel Nasser, who went on to become President of Egypt, received his secondary education at this school around 30 years later. Tweedie moved to the Government College in Cairo, then in 1904 to the Ministry of Public Instruction in Cairo.

Tweedie married Elizabeth Mary Inglis (born in Dublin, Ireland in 1871; died in 1931) on 9 August 1905 in Kildare, Ireland. They had two children, Rose (born in Cairo, Egypt in 1906) and George (born in 1907). After Elizabeth died in 1931, David Tweedie married Gladys Emily Jones in Edinburgh on 28 March 1933.

After being appointed as Lecturer in Mathematics at the Royal School of Engineering, Cairo in 1915, Tweedie worked there until 1923. In 1905, the new buildings of the "Royal School of Engineering" bordering Giza Zoo and facing Orman Park, were completed. The Royal School of Engineering moved to this location in 1905 and this is where Tweedie taught. In October 1908, study had been divided into two departments for Irrigation and Architecture with specialization in the final two years. However, in 1916 during the time Tweedie lectured there, the school started to offer specialized studies in the final two years in five departments: Irrigation, Architecture, Municipal, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

Here is a description of what lecturing in mathematics at the Royal School of Engineering, Cairo, was like at that time. It is taken from a review of a book by J I Craig who was also a mathematics lecturer there in the 1920s:-

[The lecturer] has to lecture to large classes, composed of students of very varying degrees of attainment. He has ... to satisfy "the intrepid explorer, the average wayfarer, and the patient plodder". Furthermore, he has ... to provide for students of mathematics who take the science as a branch of a liberal education, and others who learn the subject for use in their professions.

In 1932 Tweedie moved to Llanwern, Newport, Monmouthshire.

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

January 2008


MacTutor History of Mathematics
[http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Tweedie_David.html]