Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Galloway, Thomas

GALLOWAY, THOMAS (1796–1851), mathematician, son of William Galloway and his wife, Janet Watson, was born in the parish of Symington, Lanarkshire, on 26 Feb. 1796. William Galloway occupied Symington mill. His father was a mechanical engineer, in high favour with John Carmichael, third earl of Hyndford [q. v.] After attending the parish schools of Symington and Biggar, and the New Academy, Lanark, Thomas Galloway became a student in the university of Edinburgh in November 1812. He was intended for the ministry. In 1811 some French prisoners came to live in his neighourhood. Two of them were good mathematicians, and from them he acquired a knowledge of the French mathematical methods. In 1815-16 he gained a prize for the solution of some mathematical problems, and was thenceforth Professor Wallace's favourite pupil. In 1820 he had completed the usual course and taken the degree of M.A., but did not apply for license, having now become satisfied that his vocation was the teaching of science. Professor Wallace assisted him in obtaining teaching and literary work, and thus two years were spent in Edinburgh. In 1823 he was elected a teacher of mathematics in the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where 'his accuracy of knowledge and business-like habits rendered him both efficient and popular' (memoir in Transactions of the Royal Society). He married a daughter of Professor Wallace in 1831. On the death of Sir John Leslie in November 1832 he was one of three selected candidates for the chair of natural philosophy in the university of Edinburgh. Towards the close of 1833 he might have been appointed professor of astronomy in the same university, but meanwhile he had accepted the office of registrar or actuary to the Amicable Life Assurance Company of London, an office which he filled during the remainder of his life. He died from spasm of the heart, after some months of illness, at his residence, Torrington Square, London, on 1 Nov. 1851, and was buried at Kensal Green.

On 13 Feb. 1829 Galloway was elected a fellow of the Astronomical Society, and soon afterwards a fellow of the Royal Society. From 1843 he was on the council of the Royal Society. He contributed to the 'Transactions' (part i.) for 1847 a memoir on 'The Proper Movement of the Solar System,' for which the royal modal was presented to him on 30 Nov. 1848. His conclusion was that the data for a solution of the problem are as yet insufficient. He was a member of the council of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1834, one of the vice-presidents in 1837 and 1848, foreign secretary in 1842, one of the two secretaries in 1847, and a member of council in 1851. The 'Memoirs' of the society for 1846 contain a paper by him upon the 'Ordnance Survey of England.'and among the 'Monthly Notices,' in the fifth volume, a paper on 'The Present State of our Knowledge in relation to Shooting Stars.' An account of him was read at the annual meeting of the society on 13 Feb. 1852. He had on his deathbed enjoined the biographer' that neither strength nor length of eulogy should be inserted in the report,' but his accuracy, mathematical ability,and knowledge of scientific history are adequately estimated. Galloway wrote the article 'Pendulum' for the 'Edinburgh Encyclopædia' (1830) and contributed to the seventh edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' articles on 'Astronomy,' 'Balance,' 'Calendar,' 'Chronology,' 'Comet,' 'Figure of the Earth,' 'Precession of the Equinoxes,' and 'Probability.' The last paper was also issued in a separate volume. He wrote also in the 'Edinburgh Review,' his first contribution (No. 101, year 1830) being on 'The Recent History of Astronomical Science.' He also wrote for the 'Philosophical Magazine.' Among his later papers are some on 'Double Stars of the Southern Hemisphere,' 'The Dodo and its Kindred,' 'The Numeral Expression of the apparent Magnitude of the Stars,' and an article of eight pages on 'The Statistics of Coal.'

[Register of Births in Symington parish, 1796; Survey of Lanarkshire, 1796; Matriculation Roll of Edinburgh University, 1812; Transactions of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1829, &c.; obituary notice at annual meeting, 13 Feb. 1852; Transactions of the Royal Society, including obituary notice read on 1 Dec. 1851-; Edinburgh Encyclopædia, vol. xvi.; Encyclopædia Britannica, 7th edit., and information from the publishers; Edinburgh Review, li. 81-114; Philosophical Magazine, xxxii. 318-26, xxxiii. 145-154, 407-77.]

J. T.