Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Allman, George Johnston

ALLMAN, GEORGE JOHNSTON (1824–1904), mathematician, was born on 28 Sept. 1824 at Dublin. He was a younger son of William Allman, M.D. [q. v.], professor of botany in Trinity College, Dublin (1809–44). He entered Trinity College, and after a distinguished career graduated in 1844 as senior moderator and gold medallist in mathematics with Samuel Haughton [q. v. Suppl. I]. He was also Bishop Law's mathematical prize-man and graduated LL.B. in 1853 and LL.D. 1854.

Allman was elected professor of mathematics in Queen's College, Galway, in 1853, and remained in this post till he retired in 1893, having reached the age-limit fixed by civil service regulations. He was elected a member of the senate of Queen's University in 1877, and in 1880, when the Royal University of Ireland was founded, he was nominated by the Crown as a life senator. He was made F.R.S. in 1884, and lion. D.Sc. of Dublin in 1 882. He contributed a few papers on mathematical subjects to scientific periodicals, besides an account of Prof. McCullagh's [q. v.] lectures on the ‘Attraction of the Ellipsoid’ which appears in the latter's collected works. He also wrote a number of articles in the 9th edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’ on Greek mathematicians. His chief contribution to science is his ‘History of Greek Geometry from Thales to Euclid’ (Dublin 1889), which first appeared as articles in ‘Hermathena.’ In this he traced the rise and progress of geometry and arithmetic, and threw new light on the history of the early development of mathematics. With his life-long friend, John Kells Ingram [q. v. Suppl. II], he was attracted to positivism, and entered into correspondence with Comte in 1852; in 1854 he went to Paris and made his personal aquaintance. His position at Galway prevented his taking any public part in the positivist movement, but his teaching was much influenced by Comte's mathematical work, the ‘Synthèse Subjective,’ and his general theory of historical development. Allman died of pneumonia on 9 May 1904 at Farnham House, Finglass, Dublin.

He married in 1853 Louisa (d. 1864), daughter of John Smith Taylor of Dublin and Corballis, co. Meath. A son and two daughters survived him.

[Proc. Roy. Soc. 78 A. (1907), p. xii; Positivist Review, July 1904, p. 149; The Times, 13 May 1904.]

R. S.