Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Everett, Joseph David

EVERETT, JOSEPH DAVID (1831–1904), professor of natural philosophy in Queen's College, Belfast, born at Rushmere, near Ipswich, Suffolk, on 11 Sept. 1831, was the eldest son of Joseph David Everett, a landowner and farmer of Rushmere, by his wife Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Garwood, corn merchant of London. A younger brother, Robert Lacey Everett (b. 1833), was M.P. successively for the Woodbridge division (1885–6, 1892–5) and for south-east Suffolk (1906–10). Everett was educated at Mr. Buck's private school at Ipswich. On leaving he attended higher classes in mathematics at the Ipswich Mechanics' Institution under Stephen Jackson, proprietor of the ‘Ipswich Journal,’ who advised him to follow a scholastic life. After a short experience of teaching at a private school at Newmarket, where he had Charles Haddon Spurgeon [q. v.] as a colleague, he became, in 1850, mathematical master at Mr. Thorowgood's school at Totteridge, near Barnet. In 1854 he gained one of Dr. Williams's bursaries and became a student at Glasgow College (now University). After a most successful course he graduated B.A. in 1856 with honourable distinction in classics and mental philosophy, and M.A. in 1857 with highest distinction in physical science. He had thought of entering the ministry, but gave up the idea, and after acting for a short time as secretary of the Meteorological Society of Edinburgh, he became professor of mathematics in King's College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1859. He returned to Glasgow in 1864 as assistant to Dr. Hugh Blackburn, professor of mathematics in the university (1849–79), and worked for a time in Lord Kelvin's laboratory. From 1867 till his retirement in 1897 he was professor of natural philosophy Queen's College, Belfast, serving on the council from 1875 to 1881.

Everett was elected F.R.S. Edinburgh in 1863; F.R.S. London in 1879; and was a vice-president of the Physical Society of London (1900–4). He acted as secretary and subsequently as chairman of the committee of the British Association for investigating the rate of increase of underground temperature downwards (1867–1904), and as secretary of the committee for the selection and nomenclature of dynamical units (1871–3). He was a fellow of the Royal University of Ireland.

Everett wrote many memoirs on dynamics, light, and sound (see Royal Soc. Cat. of Scientific Papers), which deal to a comparatively small extent with his own experimental work. He regarded it as his special mission to expound clearly the results of others. In his books and his lectures he spared no pains to make his statements precise and compact and to bring them up to date. His separate publications were: 1. ‘Units and Physical Constants’ (now ‘The C.G.S. System of Units’), 1875; 3rd edit. 1886; Polish transl., Warsaw, 1885. 2. ‘An Elementary Text Book of Physics,’ 1877; 2nd edit. 1883. 3. ‘Vibratory Motion and Sound,’ 1882. 4. ‘Outlines of Natural Philosophy,’ 1887. He also translated Deschanel's ‘Physics’ (1870; 6th edit. 1882) and, in conjunction with his daughter Alice, Hovestadt's ‘Jena Glass and its Scientific and Industrial Applications’ (1902). The former work was largely rewritten by Everett.

He had many interests outside his professional work. He invented a system of shorthand which he published (1877 and 1883), was one of the pioneers of cycling, and invented a spring hub attachment for the spokes of bicycle wheels.

He moved from Belfast to London in 1898 and eventually settled at Ealing, regularly attending the meetings of scientific societies in London. He died from heart failure at Ealing on 9 Aug. 1904, and was interred at Ipswich. He married on 3 Sept. 1862 Jessie, daughter of Alexander Fraser, afterwards of Ewing Place Congregational Church, Glasgow (of the Frasers of Kirkhill, Inverness), and left three daughters and three sons, of whom the second, Wilfred, is professor of engineering in the Government Engineering College, Sibpur, Calcutta. A portrait by W. R. Symonds, presented in 1898, hangs in the great hall of Queen's College, Belfast.

[The Times, 12 Aug. 1904; Proc. Roy. Soc. London, lxxv. 377; Proc. Physical Soc. London, 1905, xix. 11; private information from Miss A. Everett, M.A., A. F. Everett, B.A., R. L. Everett, J.P., Prof. G. Carey Foster, Prof. W. B. Morton, and W. I. Addison, Registrar of the University of Glasgow.]

C. H. L.