Percival Frost (1817-98), Fellow of King’s College 1882-98

Percival Frost was born 1817 at Kingston upon Hull, the second son of Charles Frost. He came up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1835 from Beverley and Oakham Schools. Frost transferred to St John’s College soon after arriving in Cambridge. He matriculated in Michaelmas of that year, received his BA (as 2nd Wrangler and 1st Smith’s Prizeman) in 1839, his MA in 1842 and ScD in 1883.

After receiving his BA, Frost was made a fellow at St John’s and ordained deacon. He held a mathematical lectureship from 1847 to 1859 in Jesus College, then from 1859 to 1889 in King’s College. Frost was known for his tuition of private students, among whom were John Rigby, William Kingdon Clifford, and Joseph Wolstenholme. Frost was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1882, and the same year was elected by King’s College to a terminable Fellowship, to which he was re-elected three times, holding it at his death.

The Royal Society’s ‘Catalogue of Scientific Papers’ lists more than 20 papers by Frost on algebra, analytic geometry, lunar and planetary theories, and electricity and magnetism. Frost edited three sections of Newton’s Principia Book I in 1854 with notes, illustrations and a collection of problems. In 1863 working alongside his former pupil Joseph Wolstenholme he prepared ‘A Treatise on Solid Geometry’; later editions were by Frost alone. In 1872 he published his famous ‘Treatise on Curve-tracing’.

On 2 June 1841, Frost vacated his fellowship at St John’s to marry Jennett Louise Dixon. The couple had one child, Charles Frost (later Foster) a clergyman. Their golden wedding was celebrated by a garden party in the Fellows’ Garden at King’s College, on 2 June 1891.

Frost was a man of wide interests and varied achievements. He was devoted to music and was an accomplished pianist with an appreciation of the masters. He enjoyed painting and was a talented watercolourist.

Frost was a great favourite at Cambridge, remembered by his peers for his brightness, cheerfulness, kindness of heart and consideration for others.

Frost grave
Frost grave



Lat Lon :  52.202679, 0.13800154 – click here for location

Parish: St Mary the Less

See family grave page for more information





Archives of King’s College

By Tracy Wilkinson

Percival Frost