Samuel Earnshaw


Samuel Earnshaw (1 February 1805, Sheffield, Yorkshire – 6 December 1888, Sheffield, Yorkshire[1]) was an English clergyman and mathematician and physicist, noted for his contributions to theoretical physics, especially "Earnshaw's theorem".

Samuel Earnshaw
Born(1805-02-01)1 February 1805
Died6 December 1888(1888-12-06) (aged 83)
Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
Known forEarnshaw's theorem

Earnshaw was born in Sheffield and entered St John's College, Cambridge, graduating Senior Wrangler and Smith's Prizeman in 1831.[2]

From 1831 to 1847 Earnshaw worked in Cambridge as tripos coach, and in 1846 was appointed to the parish church St. Michael, Cambridge. For a time he acted as curate to the Revd Charles Simeon. In 1847 his health broke down and he returned to Sheffield working as a chaplain and teacher.

Earnshaw published several mathematical and physical articles and books. His most famous contribution, "Earnshaw's theorem", shows the impossibility of stable levitating permanent magnets: other topics included optics, waves, dynamics and acoustics in physics, calculus, trigonometry and partial differential equations in mathematics. As a clergyman, he published several sermons and treatises.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1888 9c 246 ECCLESALL B. (aged 83)
  2. ^ "Samuel Earnshaw (ENSW827S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.

External linksEdit

  • Samuel Earnshaw