Feb 282024

53 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6JQ

A two-storey sandstone rowhouse with 5 windows, a white front door, and a small plaque to the left of the front door.

Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872) was a Scottish mathematician and astronomer, and one of the first two women to become an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society, alongside Caroline Herschel. She was one of the first to suggest the existence of Neptune, and she famously tutored Ada Lovelace, who became the “mother of modern computing”. Somerville wrote many successful journal articles and books in her lifetime, one of which, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences, was its publisher’s most successful science book until Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Somerville was the first person to ever be referred to as “scientist”, and her extensive contributions to academia are commemorated by this plaque, at the house where she lived in Edinburgh.

A black plaque with decorative gold knotted borders reading: Mary Fairfax Somerville, 1780-1872, “The queen of 19th century science, astronomer, scientist and polymath, lived here.”
Portrait painting of a dark-haired woman with her hair up in a 1700s style, wearing a dark blue gown with a white ruff and a brown fur stole.
A row of antique book spines with the author Somerville and the following titles: Mechanism of the Heavens, On Molecular and Microscopic Science, Physical Geography, On the Connexions of the Physical Sciences, and Personal Recollections.

Book titles written by Somerville. Books image via Canva, remixed with titles.


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Feb 282024

63 Dean Path, Dean Cemetary, Edinburgh, EH4 3AT

A path with a row of old tombstones and autumn leaves on the grass.

Flora Philip (1865 – 1943) was a mathematician and one of the first women to graduate from the University of Edinburgh. When she began her studies, the law prohibited women from studying at Scottish universities, so she enrolled with the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women instead. This was an organisation campaigning for higher education for women, offering its own classes delivered by lecturers from Edinburgh University. Upon the passing of the Universities (Scotland) Act in 1889, which allowed women to attend university, Philip was matriculated at the University of Edinburgh and received her degree for her previous studies. She was the first female member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and was admitted to the prestigious organisation before she even received her degree. Philip is buried at this cemetery, alongside her husband George Stewart and their children.

A black and white photo (circa 1945) of an elderly woman wearing a dark graduation cap and gown
A large grey tombstone with a square knot carving at the top. The stone is for George Stewart (1865-1938) and his beloved wife Flora Philip, M.A. (14th August 1945) and additional members of their family.

Satellite view screenshot of Google Maps Dean Cemetery showing the location of the lower cemetery and the headstone.