31 October-Samuel Haughton

A plaque was unveiled in Carlow town, Ireland in August 2005, on the wall outside the house where polymath Samuel Haughton was born. Sponsored by Bord Fáilte, the plaque was unveiled by Professor David Spearman of the Royal Irish Academy. It records that Haughton was a mathematician, geologist and physiologist.

Samuel Haughton was born at Burrin Street, Carlow, Ireland on December 21st 1821. He was educated locally. The school master had a special interest in nature and brought Haughton and other students on trips exploring nature along the valley of the river Barrow. Samuel Haughton entered Trinity College Dublin at the age of seventeen. He obtained a Foundation Scholarship called the Lloyd Exhibition in mathematics at the end of second year in 1843. The Foundation Scholarships are described as ‘the most prestigious and valuable awards’ at Trinity College. He won first place in mathematics in the following year and was successful in the fellowship examination in 1884.

During the following years Haughton worked in the mathematics department in Trinity College and was ordained a priest in 1847. In 1851 he was appointed Professor of Geology at the College. He held the post for a post 30 years and published up to fifty papers on geological subjects. He also carried out extensive studies on tides around the coast of Ireland. During his time as Professor of Geology, Haughton studied medicine. He was awarded the degree of MD in 1862 and was later appointed to the General Medical Council. He also served as President of the Royal Irish Academy and secretary and President of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland. Haughton House at the zoo was built in 1898 in memory of Samuel Haughton.

Haughton published a paper on hanging in 1866. At the time the person being hanged, died by slow strangulation which, we are told, could take several minutes. Haughton’s more humane method allowed the condemned person to drop far enough to snap the neck and cause instantaneous death. For example he determined that a person weighing 72.5kg needed a ‘drop’ of 4.5m. The method, which became known as ‘Haughton’s Drop’, has become the accepted procedure for hanging.

Samuel Haughton, who is buried in Killeshin graveyard near Carlow town, died in the year 1897 On This Day.

1898 The Hauchton House – Dublin Zoo by infomatique on 2012-08-29 13:11:18

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