The First Fifty-Five Females in Irish Maths (May 2021)

A survey of the early Irish woman in mathematics, up to the last woman to earn her first degree in 1920. Fifty-five (55) women are highlighted, from Mary Everest Boole to Margaret Gough (aka Sister Mary de Lellis).


This blog was initially prepared in conjunction with preparations for an online talk "Pioneering WIMEN" given as part of the Women in STEM session at the 9th Robert Boyle Summer School (26 June 2021).  See Celebrating Women in Irish Mathematic (which includes links to the video and slides of that presentation).  Originally, fifty-five (55) women were highlighted, from Mary Everest Boole to Margaret Gough (aka Sister Mary de Lellis).  Since then, 4 more have come to light and have been added below (see 29A, 31A, 34A, 37A).  Last updated 21 Sep 2022.


The Scope

In some earlier blogs we have pondered the question of the identity of the "first" Irish maths woman with a doctorate.  Giving a clear answer requires careful consideration of mid 20th century evidence.  Until a few years ago, Galway's Sheila Tinney (née Power) seemed to have a claim on that title, although her work was in mathematical physics. Maybe Barbara Yates (Dublin born, Belfast reared), Muriel Wales (Belfast born, Canada reared), or Margaret Gough (aka Sister Mary de Lellis, from Kilmore Quay, Wexford) should get the credit instead?  Or Macroom's Siobhán O'Shea?

This month we go back earlier in time, before doctorates by thesis were even a consideration in academia in Ireland or Britain, for men or women alike.  We present a survey of the known first fifty-five females in Irish mathematics,  effectively spanning all relevant women we are aware of who were born in the 19th century.  It turns out that 50 of them (or 91%) had degrees, and 44 (or 80%) them had careers that included teaching at secondary or third levels (or both).

We tried to include all who graduated up to 1920 from honours mathematical sciences degrees programmes--the great majority of whom earned honours degrees--as well as other women who did maths outside of that system.  (There are a few who got passes in honours degree programmes.) 

For several reasons, it's very challenging to track those who did ordinary level or pass degrees all along.  For one thing, university publications and contemporary newspaper lists of graduates tend not to note what subjects were pursued by those graduates.  We do highlight some exceptions, such as Bessie Anderson, famed first female grad from Galway, whose general BA subjects we know were logic and maths.  Also Ellie Geale, who progressed from a pass BA in 1900 to lecturing maths at QUB in the early 1920s, while picking up an MA by thesis aged 50.

The era focussed on in this month's blog joins up nicely with the "modern era" of the past century: the story of women in Irish maths who graduated after 1920 is one which will be addressed in future blogs.  Based on information currently at hand, it seems that by 1940 we already have another 50 irish female maths graduates--yes, the interwar years were very fertile--and between then and the early to mid 1970s there are 50 more.

The women below are presented in order of birth.  Most of the very early ones were privately educated, as educational and employment opportunities for females were both restricted well into the 20th century.  As always in our blogs, when we say "educated" below, we mean at the third level (typically attending lectures and sitting formal exams, not necessarily at the same place).  We use "attended" to specify (when known) the secondary schools these women went to.  Similarly, we generally use "lectured" for third level instruction, and "taught" for second level.


Degrees of Education in Britain

Until the establishment of London's Bedford College  in 1849, there were no higher education colleges for (or open to) women in Britain or Ireland.  Bedford became part of the University of London (established 1836) at the end of the 19th century.  London had introduced exams for women in 1869, and in 1881 they awarded the first BA and BSc degrees to women in Britain (one recipient was an Irish maths woman).  The earliest degrees given to women in Ireland were awarded by the Royal University of Ireland a few years later, in 1884, of which more presently.

Oxford didn't give women degrees until 1920, and Cambridge held off until 1948.  None of that stopped women (some of them Irish) from successfully completing mathematical studies at Cambridge's famed female colleges, Girton (est 1869) and Newham (est 1871), and at the Oxford equivalents.  Such women competed with the men at the other Oxbridge colleges, taking the same exams, and they often excelled.  For instance, several got "wrangler" status (first class honours) at the mathematical Tripos in Cambridge, and some of those women were Irish. Note: we know of no Irish women who studied maths before 1920 in any third level institution in England, Wales or Scotland other than in London, Girton and Newnham.  This chronology may be helpful.


Education by Degrees in Ireland

The Royal University of Ireland (roughly 1879-1908) was an examining and degree-awarding body which was modelled on the Univ of London; one consequence of this was that was that it was open to women.  It replaced the Queen's Univ of Ireland (with its Belfast, Galway, and Cork campuses) and also absorbed the Catholic University in Dublin (later UCD, University College Dublin).  While no women could attend university in Ireland prior to the 1880s, progress came in 1884 when RUI graduated its first woman.  Two years later, Flora Hamilton became the first of the WIMEN (Woman in Irish Maths Exceeding Norms) to get a pass RUI BA in maths.  In 1887, Eleanor Moss was the first of the WIMEN to get an honours RUI BA in maths, via private study in Dublin.  The first such WIMEN to graduate from Queen's Belfast and Galway, respectively, were Jane McCutcheon (1891) and Agnes (Molly) Perry (1903).  Nan Moylan, who had earned an RUI BA in 1891, went on to become the first woman in Ireland to get an RUI BSc (1896), also in maths.

RUI degrees were earned purely on the basis of performance in a single set of final examinations.  There was no obligation to attend lectures on any campus for three years and take first and second year exams along the way, although that's exactly what many people did.  Up to about 1900, however, women often prepared for RUI examinations via private study, or by attending lectures at other places of learning.  The most notable of those for this blog were Victoria College and Methodist College ("Mathody"), both in Belfast, and Alexandra College ("Alex") and St Mary's College (Stephen's Green) in Dublin.  The options for men included Methody and Blackrock College in Dublin.  Though it's often forgotten today, for a period these colleges taught at both second and third levels.  It's also worth mentioning that UCD itself did not welcome women students until the start of the new century, so Catholic women had fewer options.

Meanwhile, there was Trinity College Dublin, an institution which had long favoured only Anglican men, and for centuries expected its fellows to be ordained clergy.  They too offered women special examinations, starting in 1869, leading to a certificate, but resisted giving women full membership of the university (and degrees) until July 1904.  Between then and December 1907, hundreds of "steamboat ladies" sailed to Dublin to get ad eundum degrees. These were on the basis of having earned (though not been awarded) degrees at Oxbridge.  As Susan M. Parkes observed in the DIB, "These women made use of the traditional privilege that enabled qualified members of the three sister universities to graduate ad eundem at the others".  Those TCD degrees were sometimes granted many years or even decades after they'd been earned in England.  Some of the recipients were Irish.

The 5 known Irish mathematical women getting such ad eundum degrees from TCD were: Edith Stoney (BA & MA 1904), Rosa Patterson (MA 1904), Mary Raymond (BA & MA 1906), Maud Meyer (MA 1907), and Molly Acheson (MA 1907).  Acheson was probably teaching in Belfast in 1907, so it's unlikely that a steamboat per se was involved in her case.  TCD also awarded Sophie Bryant an honorary LittD (1904).  These 6 women are included in the 55 featured below.

There are also 7 British mathematical steamboat ladies who are not among the women treated in detail in this blog: Frances Hardcastle (1866-1941, TCD MA 1905), Isabel Maddison (1869-1950, TCD BA 1905), Helen Bartram (1873-1957?, TCD MA 1904), Mary Beeton (1876-1966, TCD MA 1906), Evelyn Cave-Browne-Cave (1876-1965, TCD MA 1907), Julia Bell (1879-1979, TCD BA & MA 1907), and Hilda Hudson (1881-1965, MA 1906). Hudson also received an honorary DSc from TCD in 1913.  Our earlier Cambridge blog highlights the first 5; however, Bell's and Hudson's Girton degrees were earned after the blog's 1900 cut-off.


Influence and Motivation

What factors might have influenced or motivated the mathematically-inclined women below to pursue advanced study in the field in an era when females of any age were actively discouraged from most intellectual pursuits?  We don't know, but things to consider include having a parent or sibling (or uncle or aunt) with more education than the average person from that period.  In fact, many of our women had close relatives who attended university too, and in several cases relatives who also studied maths or physics or astronomy.

Even a father who was a clergyman or bank manager or engineer or school teacher (or inspector) was arguably more likely to have children who went to university than a farmer or a labourer.  This, of course, means that far fewer Catholic families from the period produced daughters who did maths in university. 

For the very first time in these blogs, we indicate (where known) employment and religious affiliation for the fathers (and occasional mothers) of the people highlighted, because we feel it sheds valuable light on the socio-economic backgrounds which influenced the educational and career choices made.  Since these stories largely unfolded over a century ago, women almost invariably ceased working (and changed their names) if they married.  In rare cases, a woman might return to teaching down the road if she was widowed relatively young. 

Another key factor in anyone's advanced education path is of course the secondary school one attended, either because of general high standards or a particularly inspiring teacher.  Hence, we also note the school where known. Victoria College and "Methody" in Belfast, as well as Alexandra College in Dublin, feature frequently.  Many schools had very successful records of preparing students for (county council) scholarships, indeed web searches for some of the women's names to follow sometimes bring up old newspaper pieces listing such achievements!


Some Notable Achievements

Most (4) of the very early women here are believed to have been "Home schooled", receiving no formal education past primary level (if that).

Women born in, reared in, or (at least partially) educated in Ulster account for 27 of the 55 covered below. 

We know of 21 with masters degrees.  Of those, 5 (Meyer, Raymond, Stoney, R Patterson, M Acheson) were later ad Eundum ones from TCD, and 1 (Everett) was an RUI degree awarded as a result of her performance on the maths Tripos at Cambridge.  Another 5 (Geale, Darragh, Boyd, Harvey, Woods) of the 21 were via theses done in Belfast.  (Amy Woods earned two masters by thesis.)   An additional 2 (Paterson-Smyth at McGilll and Gough at Catholic) were by thesis done in north America.   Marjorie Long's MA is of unknown provenence, but possibly via Cambridge.  The remaining 7 were by exams in Ireland: Molly Perry (Galway); Ryan and Kelly (UCD); McElderry, G Acheson, Molyneux, and Nichols (Belfast).  I

At least 40 Taught in (secondary) schools for at least one year, of whom 4 (Meyer, Stoney, M Perry, Geale) also lectured at the 3rd level at some stage.  It seems that another 4 of them (Molyneux, Long, Woods, de Lellis), taught at the 3rd level only.  So in total, 44 of the 55 were involved in instruction.  Meyer and Gough were the only career maths instructors at the 3rd level.

By our count, 14 did at least some Research (this includes the 7 with masters by thesis: Geale, Paterson-Smyth, Darragh, Boyd, Harvey, Gough, Woods).

Finally, 5 of them contributed to, authored, or translated relevant Books in whole or in part (Boole, Clerke, Bryant, Stott, Long). 

For quick reference, these distinguishing characteristics are indicated below (in the left column) with the letters H, U, M, E, T, 3, R, and B, respectively.

As of 22 Sep 1922, we have secured photographs (admittedly of varying quality) for 23 of them.

Some women earned more than one primary degree: a BA was occasionally followed by a BSc a year or two later.  A few even went for a third degree after that, at the master's level.  There are two examples of women with four (non doctoral) degrees.

Finally,  26 of the 55 are known to have married.  [The 3 additional women added in January 2022 are not included in the above counts.]


Data Gathering

A good starting place for exploring early Irish maths women is the MacTutor website's Davis Archive (1878-1940) which "contains details of the approximately 2500 women who graduated in mathematics from universities in Britain and Ireland before 1940".  This remarkable database was assembled by A.E.L. Davis (1928-2020) in the mid 1990s.  The information found there is invaluable, but skeletal, e.g., a typical entry reads like this:

   Charlotte Louisa Ryles Wedgwood
   graduated from the Queen's University of Belfast in 1911
   with a B.A. (Class: II)

Old university calendars and reports, and published lists of graduates in newspapers from the time, are the other main source.   Once potential names have been identified, one turns to genealogical methods: census records, BMD lists, marriage announcements, obituaries, wills, probates, family trees, registered teacher listings, not to mention secondary school brags (in advertisements), and so on.

There are also several wonderful books which we recommend:

   Women at Cambridge (Rita McWilliams Tullberg, 1998)

   A Danger to the Men?: A History of Women in Trinity College Dublin 1904–2004 (Susan M. Parkes, 2004)

   Have Women Made a Difference? Women in Irish Universities, 1850-2010 (edited by Judith Harford, 2010)


Comments, additions and corrections are, as always, welcome. As are more photographs.

Thanks to A. E. L. Davis (London), Olivia Bree (SPD), Elizabeth Oldham (TCD), David Malone (Maynooth), Mary Cunneen (UCD) and others for invaluable input.  Last updated 2 Oct 2022.


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 H T R

Father C of E clergyman

01. Mary Boole (née Everest, 1832-1916) was born 11 March in Wickwar, Gloucestershire, England.  She grew up mostly in Poissy, near Paris, and later in England.  Her private education included plenty of mathematics.  In time, she married George Boole, who had tutored her and was already settled in Cork as first professor of maths at Queen's College.  She helped him assemble some of his landmark books, and their daughter Alice also contributed to mathematics.  Following her husband's death in 1864, she moved to London where she taught and developed innovative ideas about the use of physical manipulations in strengthening "the unconscious understanding of materials learned in a classroom setting'' (e.g., curve stitching).  Her numerous publications include the books: Logic Taught By Love (1890), Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic (1903), and Philosophy and Fun of Algebra (1909).  Coxeter said of her that her "books reveal her as one of the pioneers of modern pedagogy".

Wikipedia / MacTutor

First woman in Irish maths to publish maths books (1890 onwards).


 H T

Father Catholic

02. Matilda Coneys (later Fitzsimon, 1834-1918) was born in Salthill, Galway, being baptised on 27 June.  She attended the Royal College for Science in Ireland in the early 1860s and also the Museum of Irish Industry, where she excelled in chemistry and maths.  She worked for a while as a teacher, and corresponded with David Livingstone. She married in 1876.

Knowing Their Place / Women & Science / Museum of Irish Industry / Irish Times

The first woman to undertake a course in pure mathematics at the Royal College of Science for Ireland  (1867)


 H A B

Father Catholic bank manager


03. Agnes Clerke (1842-1907) was born 10 February in Skibbereen, Cork. She was educated privately, studying mathematics, physics and astronomy at the third level in Dublin, and later in Italy.  Settling in London, she published extensively, wrote numerous popular and well regarded books on the history of astronomy, and contributed to the Encyclopaedia Britannica on both astronomy and mathematics.  Her sister Ellen also wrote about astronomy, and her brother Aubrey did maths at TCD.

Wikipedia / MacTutor

First Irish woman to author books on astronomy.

First Irish woman to write about maths for the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

 T R B

Father  C of I mathematician at TCD, then a clergyman, then an academic in London and later India

Her 1881 BA was in the first year that this new university awarded degrees



04. Sophie Willock (later Bryant, 1850-1922) was born 15 February in Dublin, and grew up there, in Ballymoney, Cork, in Cleenish, Fermanagh, and in London. She attended Bedford College for a while, around 1866, then married William Bryant in late 1869, but was widowed in 1870.  After teaching in Highgate for a while, in 1875 she commenced her lifelong career at the North London Collegiate School.  A few years later she also starting attending classes at the University of London.  She was awarded BSc (1881) in mental & moral science and maths, and DSc (1884).  Her thesis was in mental and moral science ("psychology and ethics" is a rough modern translation).  In 1885, she also became the first woman to publish a paper, on "The ideal geometrical form of natural cell structure," in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society.  She published on correlation in 1893. She continued teaching at NLCS until 1918, having become headmistress in 1895, and co-edited three volumes of Euclid's Elements of Geometry (in 1897, 1899 and 1901).  She also published extensively about education, was a suffragette, and authored numerous other books in diverse areas. Throughout the decades, she visited Dublin frequently, and played a role in laying the groundwork for TCD's eventual admission of women.  In 1904, they awarded her an honorary LittD.

Wikipedia / MacTutor / NLCS / Bio / IT / Correlation / ChalkdustGrave

First Irish woman in maths with a doctorate (though not in maths).

First woman in Britain or Ireland to get a DSc in any field (4 Oct 1884). 

First woman to publish a paper with the LMS (March 1885)

First Irish woman to publish a maths textbook (1897).


 H U T

Father Samuel Methodist? house-painter

Attended Bedford College

05. Agnes Perry (later Ehrhardt, 1858-1940) was born 1 June in Garvagh, south of Coleraine, Londonderry, and grew up there and in Belfast, a sister of engineer and mathematician John.  She was educated at Newnham (BA earned 1883).  She was teaching maths in 1891 shortly before she married Albert Ehrhardt.  Her nieces included pioneering early Queen's Galway graduates Alice (engineering) Alice and Agnes aka Molly (maths) below.

First Irish women to earn a degree at Cambridge's Newnham College (1883)

 U M E T 3 R

Father Presbyterian minister

Attended the North London Collegiate School for girls

06. Margaret (Maud) Meyer (1862-1924) was born 3 September in Strabane, Tyrone, and grew up there, in Italy and in England.  She was educated at Girton (15th wrangler 1882), was an early member of the LMS, and in 1916 became one of the first 6 female members of the RAS.  She taught at Notting Hill High School (1882-1888), then at the third level for 30 years at Girton (1888-1918), and finally at University College London (1919-1924).  TCD awarded her an ad eundum MA (1907).

Wikipedia / Dict Nat Bio / Gazette / RAS IEEE

First Irish maths woman to compete at Cambridge and qualify at Girton (1882)

First born Irish woman to later get a TCD degree or an MA (ad eundam, 1907)

First Irish woman with academic career in maths.

First Irish woman member of the RAS (1916)..

 S R B

Father C of E mathematician, mother C of E mathematical educator


07. Alicia Boole (later Stott, 1860–1940) was born 8 June in Cork, a daughter of George & Mary Boole. She grew up there and in London, was educated privately and never attended university. In the 1880s, she was a pioneer in the visualisation of 4-dimensional shapes, and coined the term polytope for higher dimensional analogues of polyhedra. She wrote some of the chapters on sections of 3-dimensional solids in Howard Hinton's book A New Era of Thought (1888).  She married Walter Stott in 1890.  Between 1900 and 1910 she published numerous papers on polytopes, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Groningen (1914, in absensia). In the 1930s she worked with Donald Coxeter.  

Wikipedia / MacTutor / LMS

First to do original research (1880s).

First to write parts of a book dealing with maths (1888).

First Irish woman in maths to get honorary doctorate.

 U T

Father C of I clergyman

Attended Methody?

08. Flora Hamilton (later Lewis, 1862-1908) was born 18 May in Cobh, Cork, and grew up there and in Rome.  She was educated at Methody and at Queen's Belfast, and was awarded an RUI BA (1886).  She taught at the Ladies University School (Belfast -1890-1891- ).  In 1894, she married Albert Lewis; their second son was the writer C.S. Lewis.

1901 Census / Family / Grave

First woman to get BA at Belfast in maths (and logic, 1886)

 U T

Father Daniel Presbyterian what?

Brother Alexander maths man

Attended Ladies' Collegiate School, Derry

09. Bessie Anderson (1862?-1927) was born in Camus, Coleraine, Londonderry, and was educated at Queen's Galway (BA, 1888), her subjects being maths and logic.  She taught at Victoria College (? -1901) and then at Rutland High School in Dublin (1901-1923).

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Obit / School

First woman to graduate from Queen's College Galway (pass BA 1888, maths and logic).


 M E T

10. Mary Raymond (1864-1926) was born 14 September?? in Blennersville, Kerry.  She was educated at Girton (earned BA 1887).  She taught at Perse School (Cambridge, 1887-1891), Howell's School (Llandaff, 1892-1893), Brisbane Grammar School (1893-1897), James Allen's School (Dulwich, 1898-1901) and Sydenham High School (1901-1915-?).  TCD awarded her ad eundum BA & MA (1906).


First Irish maths woman with TCD degree (1906)



Father box maker

Attended ?

11. Eleanor Moss (1864-1946) was born 18 December in Dublin and was awarded an RUI BA in 1887 via private study.  She got an Intermediate Certificate in Science from the University of London in 1889.  She taught at Ardnagena School (Dublin, 1890-1891), and Clergy Daughters' School (Casterton, 1891-1893) before being appointed headmistress at Edgbaston College (Birmingham) in 1894, serving till at least 1919.   She died in Cheltenham.   

Link / Teaching

First woman RUI honours graduate in maths via private study (1887)


 U M T A R

Father professor of natural philosophy

Attended Methody

12. Astronomer Alice Everett (1865-1949) was born 15 May in Glasgow, and brought up in Belfast, where her father was professor of natural philosophy at Queen's College.  She was educated there and at Girton (1887).  Sitting the Royal University of Ireland examinations earned her a BA (1887).  Her Tripos performance in 1889 earned her an RUI MA the same year.  She worked at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and in the USA (Pottsdam and Vassar), and much later did research in optics and the engineering of early television.

Wikipedia / Bio

First Irish woman to get MA in maths (1889)

First woman paid to do astronomical work at the Royal Observatory.


 U T P


Attended Alexandra College

13. Constance Crommelin (later Masefield, 1867-1960) was born 6 February in Cushendun, Antrim, and was educated at Newnham College (BA earned 1888).  She stayed an extra year to study literature.  After a stint of interior decorating (a business venture with her sister Florence), in 1891 she was teaching in Brighton.  In the 1901 census she's a "teacher and lecturer" in London.  She married a future poet laureate in 1903.  She also wrote plays with Isabel Fry.




Father C of I? school headmaster

Attended Alexandra College

14. Hannah "Nan" Moylan (1867-1902) was born in Galway town, was baptised on 2 December, and grew up there and in Limerick.  She was educated at Alexandra College and was a graduate of RUI (BA, 1891).  She was already contributing to the Educational Times.  She then taught and lectured at Alexandra College, and via study there and at Queen's Galway became the first woman in Ireland to get a BSc (1896), also in maths.  After 5 more years at Alexandra she moved to teach in Cairo, but tragically died at the end of the 1901-1902 academic year. [Photo and key bio info courtesy of John Lucey.]

Bio / Limerick / Catholic / Edu Times 1 / Edu Times 2

First Irish woman to contribute to the Educational Times.

First woman in Dublin to get maths degree (1891)

First woman to get a BSc in Ireland (1896)

 U R

15. Astronomer Annie Russell (later Maunder, 1868-1947) was born 14 April in Strabane, Tyrone.  She was educated at Girton (BA earned 1889), where she was the highest ranked mathematics student.  She then taught at Jersey Ladies College for a year, before spending decades pursuing pioneering solar research at Greenwich Royal Observatory.  She had to settle for publishing her findings under her husband's name.  Her older brother Samuel also did maths, at QUB.

Wikipedia / Irish Times Bio / DIB

First Irish woman to be ranked Senior Optime (second class honours) in maths at Cambridge (1889)


 U T

Father Wesleyan minister

Attended Methody

16. Jane McCutcheon (1868-1956) was born 8 September in Limerick city.  She grew up there, in Galway, Down, and Belfast.  She was educated at Methody and at Queen’s Belfast (BA 1891) and later taught at Methody for 30 years.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Probate / Death

First woman to get honours BA from Belfast in maths (1891)


 M T E

Father C of I physicist


17. Edith Stoney (1869-1938) was born 6 January in Dublin, daughter to Offaly's physicist George Stoney (who later coined the term "electron").  She was educated at Newnham College (BA earned 1893).  She had a remarkable career in physics and medical physics, including stints teaching maths at Cheltenham Ladies' College and physics at the London School of Medicine for Women, from which she had received a medical degree (1895).  TCD awarded her ad eundum BA & MA (1904). She was very active in the suffrage movement and in WWI medical efforts.

Wikiepedia / IPEM / Nature

First Irish woman in maths awarded an ad eundum TCD BA (1904)


 U M T

Father ?

Attended ?

18. Rosa Patterson (1871-1960?) was born 27 September in Holywood, Down, and was educated at Newnham (BA earned 1891).  She got a teaching diploma at the University of Manchester (1902).  TCD awarded her an ad eundum MA in 1904.  She taught at Wakefield High School (1895-1900), North Manchester High School (1900-1905), Pendleton High School (1905-1916), York College for Girls (1919-1920), City and County School Chester (1920- ?).

Link / Link / Teaching


 U R M T 3

Father Thomas Methodist draper

Attended Methody

19. Lillie Geale (1872-1949) was born in Drogheda, Louth, and was first educated at Kelvin House, Belfast (RUI BA 1900).  She then taught in Belfast, first at Belmont Ladies College (1900-1901) and then at Girls' High School (Orrington House,  1901-1915-?), which she founded with her sister Edith.  She was assistant to AC Dixon on the QUB maths staff (1921-1925), being awarded MA (1923) for a thesis on "The Elastic Curve".  Around the same time she was examiner for the Intermediate Examination Board.  From 1925 on, she was a tutor for several years.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1926

First woman on maths staff at QUB (1921).

 U M T

Father Presbyterian merchant and postmaster

Attended ?

20. Annie McElderry (later Megaw, 1874-1968) was born 4 September in Ballymoney, Antrim.  She was educated at Queen's College, Belfast (BA 1895, MA 1896), the master's via Victoria College.  She taught at Rutland School in Dublin, where she rose to the rank of principal.  Her daughter Helen Megaw was a celebrated crystallographer.

1892 / Victoria / 1901 Census / 1911 Census / Tree

First Irish woman to earn MA in maths by exam in Ireland (1896)



Father C of I

Attended Alexandra?

21. Dora Harden (later Smith, 1875-1951) was born 8 February in Dublin, and was educated at Alexandra (RUI BA 1897).  She married clergyman Charles Smith (another TCD maths graduate) in Dublin at the end of 1898, and then lived in Donegal and Tyrone.  Their son Frank Smith (1912-1987) also did maths (at TCD, 1934).  [Photo courtesy of Pete Smith]

1901 Census / 1911 Census



Father C of I what?

Attended Alexandra College?

22. Lily Thrift (later McCaw, 1875-1961) was born 2 October in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, and grew up mostly in Carlow.  She was educated at Alexandra College, earning an RUI BA (1898).  She taught for a few years then married in 1902 and moved to Armagh.  Her brothers Willy and Harry were career TCD maths men.  (Thanks to Douglas Mobray for the photo.)

Family / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

First grad from Alexandra College to get a maths degree (1898)



Father Methodist what?

Attended ?

23. Annie Glanville (1876-1922) was born 21 September in Dublin, and was educated at Alexandra College (RUI BA 1901).  She taught at St Stephen's Green School (1902-1905) and Victoria College (1905-1908), before being appointed mathematical mistress at the Howard Gardens Municipal Secondary School in Cardiff.  She died relatively young; her older brother Edwin did maths at TCD and died even younger.

Award / 1901 Census / Howard Gardens / Death / Grave


 U T

Father C of I clergyman

Attended Alexandra College (secondary and third level)

24. Agnes Scott (1879-1975) was born 12 January in Moville, Inishowen, Donegal.  She was educated at Alexandra College in Dublin, graduating via the Royal University of Ireland (BA 1902), a few years before TCD (from which she later got a DipEd) awarded women degrees.  Her career included teaching at Dollymount (1904-1906), Alexandra (1907-1907), Wallasey High School (Cheshire, 1909-1910), Maynard School (Exeter, 1910-1916), St Mary's College (Paddington, 1916-1917), and the High School (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1917-1919- ).

1901 Census / Teaching / Woman's World

 U M E T

Father Presbyterian druggist

25. Molly Acheson (later Faris, 1880-1958) was born 12 June in Portadown, Armagh, and was educated at Girton (BA earned 1904).  She taught in Belfast until her 1919 marriage to Samuel Faris. In 1907 TCD awarded her an ad eundem MA.  She and her sister below married two brothers.

1901 Census / 1911 Census



 U M T

Father Catholic doctor

Attended ?

26. Cecilia Ryan (1880-1962) was born 19 October in Ballieborough, Cavan.  She was educated at the RUI (BA 1903 via study at St Mary's) and UCD (BSc & MA 1913).  She taught in Dublin (1902-1906), Belfast (1906-1916) and again in Dublin.

MacTutor / 1901 Census 1911 Census Grave / Davis

First maths graduate from St Mary's (1903)



27. Mary Walker (1880??- ?) earned an RUI BA (1905) via study at Alexandra College.           

1901 Census / 1911 Census      (right person???)    


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Father C of I ?? engineer

Attended ?? Millbrook House and High School in Galway??

28. Agnes "Molly" Perry (1882-1963) was born 5 June in Roscommon, and grew up in Galway town.  She was educated at Queen's College Galway (BA 1903, MA 1905), where she was the 6th woman graduate.  Her younger sister Alice also excelled in maths there, but switched track and made history as the first female engineering graduate.  In 1949, Molly was described as "the most distinguished mathematician of her time in the college".  She lectured in maths at Queen's (1903-1904), was RUI examiner 1906, and earned pedagogy credentials at Bedford College (1906-1907).  She then taught at Winchester High School (1908-1909) and Camden School for Girls (1910-1914- ?), retiring in 1936. Soon thereafter she moved to Renvyle, and later back to Galway.

1901 Census / Wikipedia / Teaching / 1937

First woman to get honours maths BA at Galway (1903).

First woman to teach maths at third level in Ireland.



Father Episcopalian merchant

Attended ?

29. Alithea Dobbin (latter Barry Deane, 1882-1975) was born 27 May in Cork city, and was educated privately and at UCC, earning an RUI BA (1904, pass? maths and modern languages).  She was at the London Day Training School in 1907, and taught at North London Collegiate School ( -1911- ), before being appointed headmistress at the Cork High School for Girls (1914- ).  In 1922 she married Bandon solicitor John Barry Deane (died 1931).

1901 Census /



Father Presbyterian

29A. Annie Kennedy (1882-1956) was born 18 August in Kildowney, Ahoghill, north of Ballymena, Antrim.  She was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1904, MA in mental & moral science 1907).  She was a student in 1911.  Later. her career was in publishing.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Death


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Father Methodist minister

Attended Methody

30. Hilda Martin (1883-1965) was born 1 May in Dublin and grew up there and in Belfast.  She was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1904).  She published a note in Nature with William Morton.  She attended Cambridge Training College, and taught at Bedford Girl's Modern School (1906-1915-?). In  the 1930s she moved from Bedford back to Belfast.

1901 Census / Paper / Teaching


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Mother Methodist

31. Minnie "Mina" McKee (later Capper, 1883-1975) was born 12 October in Lurgan, Armagh.  She was educated at QUB (BA 1906).  In 1908 she moved to Montreal, Canada and married another QUB graduate.

1901 Census / Grave



Father Catholic farmer

31A. Bridget Condon (aka Sr Celestine, 1884-1969) was born 2 January in Ballinure, Tipperary.  She was educated at QUB (BA 1904), and did her teacher training at St Mary's.  Her career started teaching in national schools in Tipperary and Cork.  She then became a reverend mother, and later prioress/abbess, for the Poor Servants of the Mother of God.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1905

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Father Presbyterian druggist

32. Grace Acheson (later Faris, 1885-1973) was born 17 December in Portadown, Armagh, and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1907, MA 1909). She taught English and classics as well as maths at Victoria College (1909-1912) until her marriage to George Faris, and again (1925-1951) following his early death, rising to the rank of headmistress.  Her son John Faris (1913-2011) was a logician at QUB.  She and her sister above married brothers.

1901 Census / 1911 Census



Father C of I dentist

Attended Alexandra College

33. Charlotte Stack (1885-1975) was born 3 December in Dublin, and got an NUI BA (1910) via private study and study at Alexandra.  She also got a UCD BSc in maths science (1910) and in biology & physiology (1911).  She was a suffragette, and in the 1930s she taught in Fulham, London.

1901 Census


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Father C of I bank manager

Attended Victoria College and the North London Collegiate School

34. Marjorie Long (1886-1937) was born 16 July in Arklow, Wicklow, and grew up there and in Mullingar and Dundalk.  She was educated at Girton (4th wrangler 1908), her performance being the best by any Cambridge woman since 1890.  She received an RUI BA (1908) as a result, and was ranked the top mathematics graduate in Ireland. The Educational Times (1 Jul 1909, page 274) reported that in the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos Part II, "Miss Marjorie Long (North London Collegiate School and Girton), equal to the Fourth Wrangler of last year, is placed (with two men) in Class I, Division 2."  In 1910, she submitted the paper "On Geiser's Method of Generating a Plane Quartic" to the Proceedings of the LMS. She taught at Bedford College (at least 1911-1922).  She translated the influential book Lezioni di calcolo differenziale assoluto (Alberto Stock Editore, 1925) by Tullio Levi-Civita, ed by Enrico Persico, as Absolute Differential Calculus (Blacktie & Son, 1927).  She worked in the library of the International Labour Office in Geneva in the 1930s.

1901 Census / 1908 / Death

Highest Irish woman ranking in Cambridge Tripos (4th Wrangler. 1908), RUI thus ranking her the top maths grad in Ireland.

First to translate a maths book (1927)


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Father Presbyterian land commissioner

34A. Anna Patterson (1887-1966) was born 27 January in Cookstown, Tyrone, and was educated at Victoria College and Queen's, Belfast (BA 1909). Her career was spent teaching, including in Lancashire (1930s).



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Father Presbyterian harbour master

Attended ?

35. Jane Molyneux (later Dziewulski, 1887-1920) was born 20 March in Liverpool, and grew up there and in Belfast, her Antrim born father having become Belfast harbour master in 1893.  She was educated at QUB (BA, 1906, BSc & MA 1908), following which she studied in Germany for a year.  She lectured on physics back at QUB (1909-1910 & 1917-1919), and published a paper in French on Zeeman Triplets (1912).  In August 1919, she married Polish physicist Wacław Dziewulski who had just spent a year at QUB.  Sadly, she died young in Warsaw the next August, following childbirth.

1901 Census / 1909 / 1912A / 1912B / 1920 Son & Death / Grave 

First woman to get maths MA from Queen's, Belfast (1908)

First Irish woman maths grad to lecture in physics at third level.

First Irish woman maths grad to pursue research on the continent (in physics).



Father Catholic national school teacher

Attended Dominican Convent, Muscross.

36. Margaret Lillis (later Dunne, 1887-1960) was born 1 September in Querrin, Kilrush, Clare. She obtained an NUI BA (1910) following study at Eccles St in Dublin, and then a UCD HDip (1913).  She taught at Eccles St, even after marrying John Dunne in 1919.

1901 Census / 1911 Census Death



Father Presbyterian clerk

37A. Margaret Harper (1883-1922, sister of Edgar) was born 24 October in Dungannon, Tyrone.  She taught in Newquay (Cornwall, 1904-1906) and then attended QUB.  After a year teaching in Ballymena (1910-1911) she taught in England again (Cumbria) till at least 1918. She died young.

1901 Census / 1911 Census


Father Methodist farmer

Attended ?

37. Maggie Webster (later Stringer, 1888-1954) was born 19 September in Ballykeenan, near Myshall, Carlow, and was educated at TCD (scholar, BA 1913).  She taught in England, married in Yorkshire in 1918, and soon moved to Australia.  [Thanks to Kristy Thexton for photo.]

1901 Census / 1911 Census


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Father C of I clergyman

Attended Alexandra College

38. Marjorie Paterson-Smyth (later Wilson, 1889-1975) was born 13 May in Dublin, and moved with her family to Montreal, Canada in May 1907.  She was educated at McGill (BA 1911, MA 1912), her master's being in physics.  She then married physicist Harold Wilson and moved to Houston, where he worked at Rice.  In 1913, the couple did an experiment relating to Einstein's theory of special relativity.  Apart from a year spent at Glasgow (1924-1925), they remained in Texas.

1901 Census / 1913 / Husband / Son



Father C of I clergyman

Attended Alexandra College

39. Olive McCormick (later Mottram, then Pride, 1889-1989) was born 23 September in Ahamplish, Carney, Sligo.  She was educated at TCD (scholar 1911, BA 1912, DipEd 1915).  She taught at the Nottingham HS (1915-1916), Lindisfarne Prep School (1917), Sir John Deane's Grammar School (Northwich, Cheshire, 1917-1926).  She had married Sydney Mottram (died 1921) in 1915 in Nottingham, and in 1926 she married Irish solicitor John Pride (died 1929) in London.  She died aged 99 in Greystones.

1901 Census / 1911 Census Family / Teaching


Father Methodist solicitor

Attended Alex??

40. Emily Tobias (later Blood Smyth, 1890-1979) was born 19 April in Dublin, and was educated at TCD (BA 1912).  She taught at the Mourne Grange School in Newry until 1917.  She married John Blood Smyth in Dublin in 1918.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Peerage / Grave



Father Methodist minister

Attended Methody

41. Charlotte Wedgwood (later Cole, 1890-1973) was born 5 May in Belfast, and grew up there and in Dublin.  She was educated at QUB (BA 1911), and is known to have done tutoring after that.  She married TCD maths grad David Cole in Belfast in 1916.  She died in Hampshire.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1912 / Husband


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Father Presbyterian goods manager and railway official

Attended Victoria College

42. Mary Darragh (later Montgomery, 1891-1990) was born 4 January in Coleraine, Londonderry and grew up there and in Carrigfergus and Belfast.  She was educated at QUB (BSc 1912, MSc 1913).  Her master's thesis on "Combination Tones" was done under William Morton; the pair published a related paper on the theory of hearing in 1914.  She taught at Princess Gardens School (1914-) and Methodist College (-1916-1918-) in Belfast. She married Thomas Montgomery in 1924.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1914 / Paper

First Irish woman in maths with master's thesis (in applied maths, 1913).


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Attended Intermediate School in Lisburn

43. Ellie Harvey (1891-1923) was born 30 March in Drumbeg, Lisburn, Down. She was educated at QUB (BA 1913, MA 1914). Her master's thesis was on "Applications of Nomography to Discontinuous Liquid Motions"). No career information is known. She died young.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Death


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44. Josephine Kelly (1891??-??) was educated at UCD (BA 1913, MA 1914, BSc 1915).  Nothing else is known.              


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Father Presbyterian  factory manager

45. Jeanie Anderson (later Kyle, 1891-1949) was born 4 June in Drumnagally, near Banbridge, Down, and was educated at TCD (scholar 1913, BA 1914).  She married John Kyle in 1916.  No career information is known.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Prizes



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Father Presbyterian what?

Attended Victoria College

46. Maggie Boyd (later Dabner, 1892-1962) was born 3 January in Ballyreagh, Dunaghy, Antrim, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1913, MSc 1914, teaching diploma 1915 or 1916).  Her master's thesis was on "Propagation of Large Disturbances and of Discontinuities through a Gas" with William Morton.  In 1924, she married and moved to Huddersfield, Yorkshire for the rest of her life.

1901 Census / 1911 Census



Father Catholic magistrate farmer

Attended Laurel Hill Convent, Limerick

47. Frances Angela (aka Bridget Frances) Hannigan (1892-1978) was born 3 October in Altamira, Liscarroll, Cork, and grew up there and in Limerick. She was educated at UCD (pass BA 1913, HDip 1914, honours BSc 1915).  Career teaching.  She died in Charleville.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Genii

First woman UCD grad with maths degree


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Father Catholic labourer

Attended convent school in Wexford

48. Margaret Gough (later Sister Mary de Lellis, 1892-1983) was born 15 February in Rickardstown, Kilmore, Wexford.  Upon finishing school at 17, at the St John of God in Wexford town, she sailed to Texas to become a nun, and is believed to have taught until 1916.  She was then educated (in stages) at Catholic University in Washington, DC (BA 1920, MA by thesis 1923, PhD 1931), returning to San Antonio, Texas, between degrees.  Her master's thesis was on "The Representability of a Number by an Indefinite Binary Quadratic Form”, and her doctoral thesis was "On the Condition for the Existence of Triangles In-and-Circumscribed to Certain Types of Rational Quartic Curve and Having a Common Side", done under Aubrey Landry.  She taught at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio until 1943, and then for a year at Incarnate Word Academy in St Louis.  She then left teaching due to health issues, and worked for 2 decades as an accountant in Forth Worth.

Wikipedia / 1901 Census / New Ross / Green & Laduke / Blog

First Irish woman with a doctorate in maths (1931).  Note: Gough is pronounced Goff.


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Father Methodist builder

49. Margaret (Mina) Funston (1893-1968) was born 7 August in Tullycarn, near Pettigo, Donegal, and was educated at TCD (scholar & BA 1915).  She taught at Victoria College in Belfast.

1901 census / 1911 census / Brother / Grave

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Father reformed Presbyterian farmer

Attended High School Coleraine

50. Margaret Kennedy (1894-1978) was born 22 January in Pleasurestep, Ballymoney, Antrim, and grew up in Portstewart, Londonderry.  She was educated at QUB (BSc 1914).  Her career was spent teaching, first as part of the Zanana Presbyterian Mission in private girls' schools in Bombay and New Delhi (1919-1929), and at the Trafalgar Institute in Montreal (1930-1932), then back at Cranagh House, Coleraine.  She later taught in Portballintra (Antrim) and at the Masonic School in Belfast.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Link



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Father congregationalist mechanical engineer

Attended Belfast Royal Academy

51. Janet Nichols (later Ferguson, then Martin, 1894-1978) was born 15 April in Belfast and was educated at QUB (BA 1914, MA 1915), and at the University of London (BSc 1916).  Rumours of a first from Cambridge seem unreliable.  She married Reuter's correspondent Fergus Ferguson in Turkey 1919, and James Martin in 1949.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Link / Daughter


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Father C of I flour mill manager

Attended Victoria HS, Derry

52. Daisy Wilson (1894-1970) was born 4 November in Derry city, and was educated at McCrea Magee College (briefly) and at TCD (scholar 1916, BA 1917, MA).  She is known to have taught at Barr's Hill School in Coventry (at least 1935-1939).  She died in Yorkshire.

1901 Census / 1911 Census


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Father C of I RIC man then master of workhouse

Attended Lisburn Intermediate School

53. Amy Woods (later Rentoul, 1894-1980) was born 10 November in Downpatrick, Down.  She was educated at QUB (BA 1917, BSc 1918, MSc 1919, MA 1921).  Both masters were by thesis, the first (under Savory) on "Work on Diffraction Grating" and the second (under William Morton) on "The Graphical Solution of Differential Equations of the First Order and First Degree".  She was appointed demonstrator of physics at QUB in 1917 and also served as lecturer in maths till at least 1922.  She married in 1925, and spent most of the rest of her life in Truro, Cornwall.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1916 / 1918 / 1921 / 1924 paper / Husband



Father Methodist commercial traveller.

Attended Alexandra College

54. Annie Butler (1895-1996) was born 20 January in Dublin, and was educated at TCD (scholar & BA 1917).  In 1939 she was teaching in Dorking, Surrey.  She died at age 101.

1901 Census / 1911 Census 



Father Catholic farmer

Attended St Louis Secondary School Kiltimagh

55. Winifred Morrin (later Mother Isabel, 1900-1968) was born 22 March in Seevness, west of Ballysadare, Sligo, and was educated at UCG (BA 1920).  She taught maths at St Louis School (1920-1927, 1930-1946) in Kiltimagh, south of Swinford, Mayo, becoming a nun along the way.  She then helped to set up the St Louis Mission in Nigeria, serving as Superior for 9 years in Kano and first Principal of St Louis Secondary School there for 7 years.  She then spent 7 years in Kumasi, Ghana.

1901 Census / 1911 Census