Lawrence Crawford

Born: 1867 in Glasgow, Scotland
Died: 5 April 1951 in Cape Town, South Africa

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Lawrence Crawford's father was John Crawford, who was a native of Glasgow. Lawrence attended Glasgow High School and then entered the University of Glasgow. He had a very distinguished undergraduate career at Glasgow, winning the Metcalfe, Muir, and Ferguson Bursaries. He completed his studies at King's College, Cambridge, where he won the Glynn and Richards Prizes and was Fifth Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos of 1890 (meaning he was ranked fifth among the First Class students). He was then elected a Fellow of King's College where he remained undertaking research.

In 1903 Crawford was appointed as Lecturer in Mathematics at Mason College, Birmingham. In the same year he married Annie M Spilhaus; they had three sons and two daughters. After five years in Birmingham he was appointed as Professor of Mathematics in the South African College, Cape Town, South Africa. In 1904, four years before Crawford arrived in Cape Town, a movement had started to obtain a charter for a University of Cape Town. The Acts were adopted in 1916 constituting a University of Cape Town which formally began on 2 April 1918. At this time Crawford became Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Cape Town. He held this position until he retired in 1938. After retiring Crawford remained in Cape Town and was elected as a City Councillor in 1944, an office he held for the rest of his life.

Crawford joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in April 1885 while he was still a student in Glasgow. He contributed papers to meetings of the Society such as On the Use of the Hyperbolic Function in connection with the Hyperbola communicated by John Alison to the meeting on Wednesday 10 April 1895; and On the evaluation of a certain determinant to the meeting on Friday 8 December 1899.

He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 5 January 1903, his proposers being Sir W Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Thomas Muir, George Chrystal, John Sturgeon Mackay.

An obituary, written by S Skewes, appears in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Year Book 1952, pages 14-15.
We give a version of this obituary at THIS LINK.

In South Africa he was a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, and elected president of the Association in 1916. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, being president from 1936 to 1941. In 1942 he published Edward Waring, eighteenth century mathematician in Trans. Roy. Soc. South Africa.

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

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Mathematicians born in the same country

Additional Material in MacTutor

  1. Papers in the Proceedings and Notes of the EMS
  2. Obituary: RSE

Honours awarded to Lawrence Crawford
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1. Lecturer at the EMS 
2. Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh  Elected 1903

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  1. MathSciNet Author profile

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JOC/EFR November 2007
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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland

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