**Stephen de Gurbs** was notable for sponsoring a mathematical prize and stained glass window at the University of Aberdeen.

- With the help of Isobel Falconer, we found some information about de Gurbs which we present below.
- This information will have come from Mrs de Gurbs but, as we shall see below, we need to treat her statements with some caution.
- We have seen no evidence that Stephen Gurbs used the name "Stephen de Gurbs" or "Baron Stephen de Gurbs" in his lifetime.
- All uses of these forms of his name that we have seen come after his death.
- The first fact that we know of Stephen Gurbs, after his birth, is that he matriculated at King's College, Aberdeen in 1823.
- Why did someone born, and presumably brought up, in Surrey choose to go to Aberdeen for his university studies?
- The second slightly strange thing is that he was 23 years of age when he began his university career, so was considerably older that most of the other students who matriculated in 1823.
- Gurbs clearly was an outstanding student.
- He received an 1823 edition of Thomas Simpson's book The doctrine and application of fluxions as a prize for being the best student in natural philosophy (physics).
- This edition of the book was "A new edition, carefully revised, and adapted, by copious appendixes, to the present advanced state of science by a graduate of the University of Cambridge." The date this prize was awarded is not recorded but we guess it was 1825.
- Certainly, on 24 March 1825 he was awarded the first prize for mathematics receiving the sixth edition of Charles Hutton's Mathematical tables which had been published in 1822.
- Intended for the use of mathematical students in schools and universities.
- He also owned John Radford Young's The elements of analytical geometry; comprehending the doctrine of the conic sections, and the general theory of curves and surfaces of the second order.
- Intended for the use of mathematical students in schools and universities.
- The editions of these two books that Gurbs owned were both published in 1833 and if he was using them for his tutoring, which seems likely, then he must have been tutoring in London at university level.
- Although we have no reason to believe Gurbs tutored students who were attending University College, London, nevertheless it is worth pointing out that teaching began there in 1828 with Augustus De Morgan as the professor of mathematics.
- He was living at Montpeller Street, Brighton when he died in December 1892 at the age of 92.
- This is the first time that we find the name "Baron De Gurbs" used.
- On 6 March 1899, Eliza Gurbs changed her name to Elise, Baroness de Gurbs, placing notice of this change of name in The Times.
- She appeared greatly interested in everything she saw, and on entering the library she asked the librarian, Mr P J Anderson, if the old records of the college were still accessible, and whether the name of Gurbs appeared in them.
- Mr Anderson very soon found the name of Stephen Gurbs, who entered the college in 1823.
- Stephen Gurbs, Surrey, matriculated at King's College, Aberdeen, in 1823, and took the degree of M.A. there in 1829 as Hutton Prizeman i.e., the most distinguished graduate of the year.
- He appears to have been known in later life as the Baron de Gurbs.
- Information is desired as to this barony.
- It is clear that the university authorities did not believe that Gurbs had been a Baron and that his widow was a Baroness.
- B.'s Notes and Queries question about the De Gurbs barony.
- In 1904 the "De Gurbs stained glass window" in the King's College Chapel was dedicated.
- A report of the dedication service appeared in The Aberdeen Daily Journal on Monday 21 November 1904.
- The sixth window, excluding your own, the one in the west ante-chapel and those on either side of me in the apse, are tributes to men who filled and adorned conspicuous positions in the university, the one exception being the memorial to Professor Robertson Smith, an Aberdeen graduate whose fame and reputation were world-wide.
- He to whose memory you have offered this loving token had no other special relation to the university than that of an alumnus who, when he passed through King's College, seemed to have bidden farewell to academic halls and pursuits.
- The window contains the names of 'Stephen Baron De Gurbs' and 'Elise Baroness De Gurbs'.
- The mathematics books, in addition to the five already mentioned, are: Samuel Ferdinand Lubbe, Traité de calcul différentiel et de calcul intégral Ⓣ(Treatise on differential calculus and integral calculus) (1832); Thomas Keith, An introduction to the theory and practice of plane and spherical trigonometry, and the stereographic projection of the sphere; including the theory of navigation: comprehending a variety of rules, formulae, &c.
- with their practical applications to the mensuration of heights and distances; to determining the latitude by two altitudes of the sun, the longitude by the lunar observations, and to other important problems on the sphere, and on nautical astronomy (1820); Silvestre François Lacroix, Traité élémentaire de calcul différentiel et de calcul intégral Ⓣ(Basic treatise on differential calculus and integral calculus) (1806); and Silvestre François Lacroix, Complément des Élémens d'algèbre, à l'usage de l'École centrale des quatre-nations Ⓣ(Supplement to the elements of algebra, for the use of the Central School of the Four Nations) (1800).
- In addition of the books, Eliza Gurbs also left money to fund the De Gurbs Prize in Mathematics and a De Gurbs Prize in Literature at the University of Aberdeen.

Born 31 March 1800, Mitcham, Surrey, England. Died 14 December 1892, Brighton, England.

View full biography at MacTutor

Origin England

**O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive