Alexander Bryce ~ Mathematician and Church of Scotland Minister

Alexander Bryce (c.1713-1786) – Mathematician and Church of Scotland minister – baptised in Boarland, Kincardine-on-Forth, Perthshire. After schooling at Kilmadock School, Doune, Bryce studied astronomy and mathematics at Edinburgh. He graduated MA in May 1735. He spent some time as a tutor whilst producing a detailed study and A map of the north coast of Britain, from Raw Stoir of Assynt, to Wick, in Caithness; by a geometrical survey, with the harbours, rocks, and an account of the tides in the Pentland Firth (Edinburgh Philosophical Society, 1744). He later produced a geographical survey of Edinburgh. Alongside his study of and practice of mathematics, Alexander Bryce undertook training in divinity. Bryce was ordained in the summer of 1745. He was employed by the Duke of Cumberland during the final Jacobite rising (1745-6), providing geographical information about northern Scotland. During this period, Bryce taught mathematics at Edinburgh University thanks to the support of Professor Colin Maclaurin who he had known since his undergraduate days. Bryce failed in his application to replace Maclaurin after the great mathematician’s death. He married in 1750 and fathered nine children. During the course of his academic career, Bryce made a number of important contributions to mathematics, engineering, and, science: he made measurements that set the standard for all liquid and dry measures in Scotland; wrote on comets; worked on the Forth and Clyde Canal; helped plan the water supply for Stirling; made astronomical observations; designed the observatory at Belmont Castle; and, made contributions to meteorology. Throughout this time, Bryce continued his ministerial duties within the Church of Scotland (forty years in the parish of Kirknewton) and in 1770 was appointed as chaplain-in-ordinary to George III. Alexander Bryce was also a poet and composer and wrote several minor poems and lyrical songs. He did 1 January 1786 and is buried at Kirknewton churchyard.