Rev. Robert Murphy

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Murphy, Robert, Rev., a mathematician, the son of a shoemaker, was born at Mallow in 1806. When he was eleven years of age he accidentally fractured his thigh, and during his confinement to bed his attention was attracted to the study of mathematics; rudimentary books were with difficulty procured, and before his recovery he acquired considerable acquaintance with the science. Through the solution of some problems in a newspaper, he became known to a Mr. Mulcahy, who put him to school, where his progress was rapid. In 1824 he published remarks upon a pamphlet by Rev. John Mackey, of Maynooth, on the Duplication of the Cube. In October 1825 he was by his friends entered in Caius College, Cambridge. In May 1829 he was elected a Fellow; he took deacon's orders, and in 1831 was appointed Dean of his college.

He eventually fell into dissipated habits, was obliged to leave Cambridge, and spent the latter part of his short life as a teacher and writer in London. He contributed a number of papers to the Penny Cyclopaedia and the Cambridge Philosophical Transactions, besides publishing separate works on Electricity (1833) and Algebraical Equations (1839). He died of consumption, 12th March 1843, aged about 37. Some time before his death, he was appointed Examiner in Mathematics at University College, London. "He had a true genius for the mathematical invention;" his habits, however, "made it impossible for him to give his undivided attention to researches which, above all others, demand both peace of mind and undisturbed leisure."


40. Biographical Division of English Cyclopaedia, with Supplement: Charles Knight, 7 vols. London, 1856-'72.

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