Person: Parkinson, Stephen
Stephen Parkinson became famous when he was Senior Wrangler, pushing William Thomson into second place. He had a highly successful career at a lecturer and tutor at St John's College Cambridge.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Parkinson sat the examinations for a Sizarship at St John's College, Cambridge in 1841.
- There was another quite outstanding student who had matriculated at the same time as Parkinson at Peterhouse, namely William Thomson.
- As the Tripos examinations approached in 1845, Parkinson saw William Thomson as his greatest rival but it is unlikely that Thomson considered Parkinson any threat to his being Senior Wrangler.
- Of the twelve papers, the first ten had large amounts of bookwork with attached problems, while the final two papers, designed to separate the few top Wranglers, were headed "Problems." Parkinson was well ahead of Thomson on the first ten papers and, although Thomson did slightly better than Parkinson on the two "Problem" papers, it was nowhere near enough to overturn Parkinson's lead.
- Parkinson was Senior Wrangler with Thomson Second Wrangler.
- Again Thomson and Parkinson competed for the prizes, this time Thomson coming out on top but Parkinson, who was 2nd Smith's Prizeman, was well ahead of any of the other competitors.
- We have gone into quite a lot of detail concerning Parkinson's undergraduate career, but this really was, in many ways, the highlight of his whole career.
- Parkinson was a great hoarder and he saved a huge bank of Examinations Papers sat by his students.
- St John's College Library contains nineteen notebooks containing mathematical notes and examples, almost certainly used by Parkinson for coaching students.
- Parkinson began following this route being ordained at Ely in 1845 and then being appointed as a curate in the neighbouring village of Bottisham.
- Parkinson wrote two books, An Elementary Treatise on Mechanics (1st edition 1855, 6th edition 1881) and A treatise on Optics (1st edition 1859, 4th edition 1884).
- At the service of consecration Dr Parkinson, Senior Fellow and President, read the Gospel.
- Dr Parkinson supported the Master at the Collation in the hall after the Consecration.
- The window bears the following inscription: "In Piam Memoriam Fratris Dilectissimi P.C. Stephanus Parkinson S.T.P. Coll.
- It is interesting that the record of the marriage gives Parkinson's occupation as "Clergyman." In the 1881 census he gives his "Rank, Profession, or Occupations" as "Doctor of Divinity." The census records that Stephen and Elizabeth Lucy Parkinson have four servants, a cook, a lady's maid, a house maid and a kitchen maid.
- Dr Parkinson's life since coming up as a freshman has been passed in connexion with the college, and we are glad to say that he now retires from tutorial work in good health, and with continued interest in the College and University affairs.
- Early this year Dr Parkinson was elected to the Fellowship vacant by the death of Professor Palmer, and at once placed himself under Statute XXV, according to which, under certain conditions, and fellow may become a Supernumerary Fellow "enjoying all benefits and advantages, save and except that of being entitled to dividend." It may be noticed, that this makes our number of actual Fellows fifty-seven, though there are still for some purposes only fifty-six Fellowships.
- Besides thus continuing a member of the Governing Body of this College, Dr Parkinson takes a part in University matters as a member of several of the University Boards.
- A large number of pupils have just presented to Dr Parkinson a handsome and costly gift as a token of goodwill and kindly remembrance.
- Dr Parkinson and Mr Scott have been appointed members of the Watch Committee.
- Professor J F B Mayor prefaced his remarks by reading a letter from Dr Parkinson who, while regretting that through ill health he had been unable to be present that day, showed his great interest in the new church by making a contribution of £500 towards the building fund.
- Mrs Parkinson the communion table ...
- Some points of Dr Parkinson's character will be best brought out by reference to some of the letters written after his death by those who knew him well.
- One states the case of a pupil who, in consequence of pecuniary losses, would have been unable to finish his University course if Dr Parkinson had not supplied his need, and enabled him to stay in College till he had taken his degree.
Born 1 August 1823, Keighley, Yorkshire, England. Died 2 January 1889, Newnham, Cambridge, England.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive