Charles Carpmael (1846-94)
The obituary below was published in the Transactions of the society for 1894, p.164.
CHARLES CARPMAEL, MA., F.R.A.S., F.R.S.C., was born September
19th, 1846, at Streatham Hill, Surrey, England, and was
educated at Clapham Grammar School. He gave his attention
particularly to the study of mathematics and natural science, and
in 1865 obtained a scholarship at St. John’s College, Cambridge,
going into residence in that institution in the same year.
In 1868, he obtained a foundation scholarship, and in January,
1869, entered for the mathematical tripos, and was classed sixth in
the list of wranglers. In 1870, Mr. Carpmael was elected Fellow
of St. John’s College, and in the same year accompanied the British
Eclipse Expedition to Spain. He first visited the United States and
Canada in 1871, and remained until 1872. This visit led him to
ultimately settle in Canada.
On the superannuation of Prof. Kingston, in 1876, Mr. Carpmael
was appointed Director of the Magnetic Observatory, at Toronto,
and Superintendent of the Dominion Meteorological Service, and to
him was very largely due the great efficiency of the Weather
In 1876 he was married to Julia, youngest daughter of the late
Walter McKenzie, of Castle Frank, Toronto. Mr. Carpmael was a
member of the first Council of the Royal Society of Canada,
appointed by the Marquis of Lorne, and in 1886, became President
of Section 3 of that Society. In 1888 he was elected President of
the Canadian Institute, and in 1890, at the earnest request of the
gentlemen who were then seeking incorporation for The Astronomical
and Physical Society of Toronto, he accepted the Presidency of that
Society, which office he held until his decease.
For some time before Mr. Carpmael’s death his health had become
impaired and he was advised to spend some time in the South of
England, in the hope of ultimately recovering.
The journey was made but did not result in improvement, and on
October 21st, 1894, news of his death, which had taken place at
Hastings, Eng., was cabled to Toronto. Mr. Carpmael’s loss was
most severely felt, and particularly by those, young in scientific
study, who had enjoyed the pleasure of his kindly aid and genial
Almost his last act in connection with The Astronomical and
Physical Society was the arranging for systematic observations of
magnetic disturbances, more especially in connection with Earth
Current phenomena. A memorandum on the subject appears in the
report for 1894. A likeness of Mr. Carpmael faces the title page of