David Drysdale's father was William Drysdale (born in Dunfermline, Fife about 1851) who was an iron moulder. His mother was Janet Drysdale (born in Dunfermline about 1849). David Drysdale had siblings Magdalene (born about 1880), William (born about 1884) and John Drysdale (born about 1889).
David Drysdale entered McLean's Public School, Dunfermline, when he was seven years old. He spent four years at the school before entering Regent Road Public School, Edinburgh, in 1881. He spent the first two years of his secondary education at this school, then proceeded to George Heriot's Hospital School, Edinburgh, where he spent the final five years of his secondary education. He was in the same class as David Johnstone and the two became friends (they went together when they first matriculated at Edinburgh University and appear in the Matriculation Album as consecutative entries). In Edinburgh Drysdale lived at 7 Cambusnethan Street.
Drysdale passed English at Higer level in the Scottish Leaving Certificate examinations in June 1894, then, also at the Higher grade, Mathematics, Latin, and Greek in June of the following year. After having passed Preliminary Examination for Edinburgh University, he first matriculated there in October 1895. From October 1895 to March 1896 he studied Senior Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at the Ordinary level. In the following session, from October 1896 to March 1897 he studied Logic, Psychology and Chemistry at the Ordinary level, then from May to July of 1897 he studied Latin, also at the Ordinary level. He then studied Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Honours level and graduated with an M.A. with First Class Honours in these subjects in April 1899. In the following year he was awarded a B.Sc. (Pure).
In 1899, the year in which he graduated M.A., Drysdale applied to join the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. He was admitted a member of the Society in December 1899. By this time Drysdale was teaching at the school at which he himself had been a pupil during the bulk of his secondary education, namely George Heriot's School, Edinburgh. He taught there for around five years before moving to the west of Scotland to take up a post at the Royal Academy, Irvine. After six years, in 1910, Drysdale moved from Irvine to the High School, Arbroath, returning to Scotland's east coast.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson