William Spottiswoode, President of the Royal Society, was born in London, Jan. 11, 1825. He belongs to an ancient Scottish family, many members of which have risen to distinction in Scotland and also in the New World.
In 1845 he took a first class in mathematics, and he afterward won the junior (1846) and the senior (1847) university mathematical scholarships. He returned to Oxford for a term or two, and gave a course of lectures in Balliol College on Geometry of Three Dimensions - a favorite subject of his. He was examiner in the mathematical schools in 1857-58. On leaving Oxford, he immediately, we believe, took an active part in the working management of the business of the Queen's printers, about this time resigned to him by his father, Andrew Spottiswoode, brother of the Laird of Spottiswoode. The business has largely developed under his hands.
Other subjects than mathematics have occupied his attention: at an early age he studied languages, as well Oriental as European.
As treasurer and president, he has been continuously on the Council of the Royal Society for a great many years, and through his exceptional gifts as an administrator he has rendered it invaluable services. He has rendered similar services to the British Association, to the London Mathematical Society, and to the Royal Institution. We have permission to make the following extract from a letter written by a friend of many years' standing: "In the councils (of the various societies) he has always been distinguished by his sound judgment and his deep sympathy with their purest and highest aims. There never was a trace of partisanship in his action, or of narrowness in his sympathies. On the contrary, every one engaged in thoroughly scientific work has felt that he had a warm supporter in Spottiswoode, on whose opportune aid he might surely count. The same breadth of sympathy and generosity of sentiment has marked also his relations to those more entirely dependent upon him. The workmen in his large establishment all feel that they have in him a true and trustworthy friend.
He has always identified himself with their educational and social well-being." We give here a list of some of the offices Mr. Spottiswoode has held, and of the honors that have been bestowed upon him: Treasurer of the British Association from 1861 to 1874, of the Royal Institution from 1865 to 1873, and of the Royal Society from 1871 to 1878. In 1871 he succeeded Dr. Bence Jones as Honorary Secretary to the Royal Institution. President of Section A, 1865; of the British Association, 1878; of the London Mathematical Society, 1870 to 1872; of the Royal Society, 1879, which office he still holds. Correspondent of the Institut (Académie des Sciences), March 27, 1876. He is also LL.D. of the Universities of Cambridge, Dublin, and Edinburgh, D.C.L. of Oxford, and F.R.A.S., F.R.G.S., F.R.S.E. In addition to these honors he has many other literary and scientific distinctions. - Nature.