MURPHY, ROBERT (1806-1843), mathematician, was the son of a poor shoemaker, and was born at Mallow in Ireland in 1806. At the age of thirteen, while working as an apprentice in his father's shop, he became known to certain gentlemen in the neighbourhood as a self-taught mathematician of wonderful precocity. Through their exertions, after attending a classical school in his native town, he was admitted to Caius College, Cambridge, iu 1825. Third wrangler in 1829, he was elected in the same year a fellow of his college. But the temptations of prosperity were too strong for him. A course of extravagant dissipation soon led him into debt ; his fellowship was sequestered for the behoof of his creditors, and he was obliged to leave Cambridge in December 1832. After living for some time with his relations in Ireland, he repaired to London in 1836, a penniless literary adventurer. He bad already contributed several mathematical papers to the Cambridge Philosophical Transactions, and had published Elementary principles of the theories of Electricity, &c., Camb., 1833. His pen was now employed in writing for the "Library of Useful Knowledge" a Treatise on the Theory of Algebraical Equations (Load., 1839). He was labouring diligently to throw off the load of debt that still pressed heavily upon him when a disease of the lungs cut short his career in March 1843.
Murphy's mathematical writings are remarkable for elegance and ingenuity, and parts of his work on the theory of equations and on the mathematical theory of electricity still retain their importance.