21 December-Samuel Haughton

In August 2005 a plaque was unveiled in Carlow town, Ireland outside the house where polymath Samuel Haughton was born. Sponsored by An Bord Fáilte the plaque, which 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 in December 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 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 Dublin 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’, became the accepted procedure for hanging. Samuel Haughton died in Dublin at the age of 77 on October 31st 1897. His body was returned to Carlow and he is buried in the family plot in Killeshin graveyard near Carlow town.

Samuel Haughton, mathematician, geologist and physiologist  was born Carlow town, Ireland in the year 1821 On This Day.

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

 

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