Lieutenant Archibald Allan Bowman, Highland Light Infantry, born on 4 April 1883 at the Congregational Union manse at Beith, Ayrshire, was the eldest son of Reverend Archibald Bowman, a Congregational Union Minister, and Isabella Bowman, of Crummock Street, Beith.

His siblings were James, Thomas, Margaret and Alexander.

He attended Speirs School and Beith Academy before going on to the University of Glasgow, where he studied between 1901 and 1905. His undergraduate career was distinguished, graduating with first class honours in Philosophy and second class honours in Classics. In addition to class prizes in Logic, English, Greek and Political Economy, he won the Edward Caird Medal in Moral Philosophy, the University Silver Medal in Mental Philosophy and the Coulter Prize in English and Classics. After graduating he was appointed assistant to the Professor of Logic at Glasgow University and Lecturer in Logic at Queen Margaret College.

In 1912 he accepted the Chair of Logic at Princeton University in succession to Dr Hibben. He married Mabel Stewart on Christmas Eve 1912, and together they had three children, Archibald Iain ('Eenie') Alistair (Ally) and Mary (Maisie). His courtship and close relationship with his wife is revealed in their voluminous correspondence and in his diaries held by the University of Glasgow.

At Glasgow he had taken an active part in the OTC and when the War broke out he obtained leave of absence so that he might take a commission in the Highland Light Infantry.  In the German attacks on the Lys in April 1918, after leading his company with great devotion and energy, he was cut off and taken prisoner.  In the prison camp his knowledge of German life and language enabled him to be most useful to his comrades, among whom he also conducted a number of classes, but the privations which he suffered permanently affected his health. An interesting fruit of his experience was his “Sonnets from a Prison Camp,” published in 1919.

When the First World War broke out, he applied for leave of absence in order to join the British Army, which was granted in 1915. He was appointed as an officer in the land forces at the rank of Second Lieutenant from 13 September 1915. He served both in Britain and France, belonging to the Highland Light Infantry and was seconded to the 52nd Training Battalion at Windygates, Fife.

He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lys in April 1918, and spent some months in captivity as a prisoner of war, finally ending up at Huespe.

After the War he returned to Princeton, but in 1925 he was appointed Professor of Logic in the University of Glasgow in succession to his old teacher, the late Professor Robert Latta, and in 1927 he was transferred to the famous chair of moral philosophy in succession to Sir Hector Hetherington, who had been elected Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, and who succeeded the late Sir Robert Rait as Principal of the University of Glasgow. Professor Bowman’s success and influence for good during his tenure of this chair can hardly be overestimated. His intellectual power, spiritual insight, oratorical gifts, and public spirit made an immediate appeal to his classes, nor was his influence confined to the class-rooms. No public man exercised more influence in the West of Scotland. The League of Nations, unemployment centres, and all movements calculated to inspire and improve humanity could rely on his support by voice and pen. All his colleagues placed the utmost reliance upon his courage and devotion. The chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow, which has had among its holders Francis Hutchison, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Edward Caird, and Henry Jones has unsurpassed traditions of scholarship and of devotion to the public service, traditions of scholarship and of devotion to the public service, traditions which Professor Bowman enriched. He was invited to return to America in 1930; he had been Mills lecturer in philosophy at the University of California in 1929, and in 1932 he was Forward lecturer in the philosophy of religion at Liverpool and in 1934 Louis Clerk Vanuxem lecturer at Princeton. He undertook an enormous schedule of talks and addresses, which placed a great strain on his health.

He died on 12 June 1936, age 53, at his residence in the University.

His brother, Thomas, a Marine Engineer, served as a Sapper with the Scottish Wireless Telegraph Company of the Royal Engineers.


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Sonnets from a Prison Camp.

Archibald Allan Bowman.


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