Lyon Playfair, 1st Baron Playfair

Lyon Playfair, 1st Baron Playfair

Lyon Playfair, 1st Baron Playfair, GCB, PC, FRS (May 1, 1818 – May 29, 1898) was a Scottish scientist and Parliamentarian.

Born at Chunar, Bengal, son of the Inspector General of Hospitals in that region, Playfair was educated at the University of St Andrews, the Andersonian Institute in Glasgow, and the University of Edinburgh. After going to Calcutta at the end of 1837, he became private laboratory assistant to Thomas Graham at University College, London, and in 1839 went to work under Justus Liebig at the University of Giessen.

After returning to Britain, Playfair became manager of a calico works in Primrose, near Clitheroe, and in 1843 was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Manchester Institution, where he was assisted by Robert Angus Smith. Two years later, he was made chemist to the Geological Survey, and subsequently became Professor in the new School of Mines. In 1848, he was elected to the Royal Society, and three years later was made Special Commissioner and a member of the executive committee of the Great Exhibition.

Appointed CB that same year, Playfair also became Gentleman Usher to Prince Albert, and in 1853 was appointed Secretary of the Department of Science, in which capacity he advocated the use of poison gas against the Russians in the Crimean War. In 1855, he was a commissioner of the Exposition Universelle, and two years later became President of the Chemical Society, finally returning to Edinburgh University in 1858 as Professor of Chemistry there.

In 1868, Playfair was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews, being made Postmaster General in Gladstone's government in 1873. On the Liberals' return to power in 1880, he was appointed Chairman of Ways and Means and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, holding these posts until 1883, when he was knighted as KCB. He was subsequently President of the British Association in 1885, and the following year became Vice President of the Committee of the Privy Council for Education, finally being made a member of the Council of the Duchy of Cornwall in 1889.

Having represented Leeds South since 1885, Sir Lyon Playfair left the House of Commons in 1892 and was ennobled as Baron Playfair, of St Andrews in Fife. He became a Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria that same year, and in 1895 added the GCB to his many domestic and foreign honours.

Lord Playfair's last honour came when he received the Harben Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of Public Health in 1897. He died a year later at his home in South Kensington, and was buried in St Andrews.

Playfair promoted a new cipher system invented by Charles Wheatstone, and the name stuck: the Playfair cipher.


[,M2 "Memoirs and Correspondence of Lyon Playfair"] by Wemyss Reid, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1899

[,M1 Obituary] of Lyon Playfair in "Proceedings of the Royal Society of London", volume LXIV, 1899 (pages ix - xi, near the end of the volume)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baron Playfair — was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom created on September 3, 1892 for Sir Lyon Playfair. It became extinct with the death of the 2nd Baron in 1939.Barons Playfair (1892)*Lyon Playfair, 1st Baron Playfair (1818 1898) *George James… …   Wikipedia

  • Playfair — Real people= Playfair is a surname, and may refer to* Andrew W. Playfair (1790–1868), Canadian politician, son of William * Henry Playfair (born 1983), Australian rules footballer * Ian Stanley Ord Playfair (1894 1972), a general in the British… …   Wikipedia

  • Хилл, Роуленд — В Википедии есть статьи о других людях с такой фамилией, см. Хилл. Роуленд Хилл англ. Rowland Hill …   Википедия

  • Royal Society of Edinburgh — Abbreviation RSE Formation 1783 Type Educational charity …   Wikipedia

  • University of St Andrews — Infobox University name = University of St Andrews native name = latin name = Universitas Sancti Andreae apud Scotos (University of St Andrew amongst the Scots) image size = 126px motto = ΑΙΕΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΥΕΙΝ (AIEN ARISTEUEIN) ( el. Ever To Be The… …   Wikipedia

  • История криптографии — Основная статья: Криптография История криптографии насчитывает около 4 тысяч лет. В качестве основного критерия периодизации криптографии возможно использовать технологические характеристики используемых методов шифрования. Первый период… …   Википедия

  • Chemical warfare — For other uses, see Chemical warfare (disambiguation). This article forms part of the series Chemical agents Lethal agents Blood agents Cyanogen chloride (CK) …   Wikipedia

  • List of Privy Counsellors (1837–1901) — This is a List of Privy Counsellors of the United Kingdom appointed during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901. = Victoria, 1837 1901 = 1837*Henry Stephen Fox Strangways, 3rd Earl of Ilchester (1787–1858) *Henry Charles Howard, Earl of …   Wikipedia

  • List of statisticians — Statisticians or people who made notable contributions to the theories of statistics, or related aspects of probability, or machine learning. NOTOC CompactTOC8 side = yes seealso = yes nobreak = yes extlinks = yes x = A * Odd Olai Aalen (1947 ) * …   Wikipedia

  • List of Scots — is an incomplete list of notable people from Scotland. This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. Contents 1 Actors 2 Architects 3 Artists …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.