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Professor John Purser (1835 - 1903):
Academic and writer

John Purser was born in Dublin and was educated in Wiltshire and Trinity College, Dublin, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. He was tutor to the children of Lord Rosse at Parsonstown. In 1863 he became Professor of Mathematics at Queen's College, Belfast, where he remained until 1901. In 1878 he was made Registrar of the College. He was a member of the British Association, and his seminal paper The Source from which the Kinetic Energy is Drawn that Passes into Heat in the Movement of the Tides was presented at the meeting of the British Association in Belfast in 1874.

His students included Sir Joseph Larmor, theoretical physicist, who graduated BA and MA, Queen's College, Belfast, and was later Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge; Sir John Henry MacFarland who became Chancellor of Melbourne University; and William McFadden Orr, later Professor of Mathematics at the Royal College of Science for Ireland and University College, Dublin.

Another former student, writing in The Northman in 1945, recalled Purser in these words: 

Purser, the mathematician, was the greatest and most enthusiastic teacher and lecturer one could ever imagine. He threw his physical as well as mental energy into his demonstrations, his students always following his movements – and he was always moving – as well as his ideas with admiration and delight;

Born: 1835
Died: 1903
Kate Newmann

Additional research, Richard Froggatt, added 11/2014. Quotation from The Northman cited by Brian Walker & Alf McCreary, Degrees of Excellence (Belfast, Institute of Irish Studies, 1994 at page 10)