De Morgan Letters

Scope and Content

Letters of thanks from Augustus De Morgan to F.Hendriks, for sending him certain pamphlets and publications.

Administrative / Biographical History

Augustus De Morgan was born in Madura in the Madras presidency, the son of a Colonel in the Indian army. Seven months after his birth his parents moved to England. The De Morgan children were brought up with the strict evangelical principles of their parents. Augustus was sent to various schools: he had a gift for drawing caricatures and for algebra. In February 1823 he entered Trinity College Cambridge to develop his already apparent mathematical ability, graduating in 1827. De Morgan had never definitely joined any church, and he refused to carry out his mother's wishes by taking orders. In the end he decided to become a barrister and he entered Lincoln's Inn. However, he did not take to the law. The new University College London was just being established and in February 1828 De Morgan was unanimously elected the first Professor of Mathematics there. He resigned this post in July 1831 in response to the Professor of Anatomy being dismissed without reason. In 1836 his successor was drowned and De Morgan offered himself as a temporary substitute. He was then invited to resume the Chair. The regulations concerning dismissal had been altered, so De Morgan accepted the post and was Professor for the next 30 years. He also sometimes took private pupils. Besides his professorial work, he served for a short period as an actuary and he often gave opinions on questions of insurance. He again resigned his Chair in November 1866 due to his view that personal religious belief of a candidate should not be taken into account in appointing a candidate for the vacant Chair of Mental Philosophy and Logic: others did not agree. De Morgan had many children, some of whom died before him. De Morgan himself died on 18 March 1871. In 1828 De Morgan had been elected a fellow of the Astronomical Society and he was also a member of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, contributing a great number of articles to its publications. He also wrote on mathematical, philosophical and antiquarian points. After De Morgan's death, his library, which consisted of about three thousand volumes, was bought by Lord Overstone who presented it to the University of London.

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