John Pullar was born in Caputh, a small village about 15 km north of Perth. His father, James Pullar, was a farmer who worked in Caputh. His mother was Margaret Jane Robertson. John had one brother Charles, born in February 1854, and one sister Margaret Ann, born on 3 January 1858. John Pullar's secondary education was at Madras College, St Andrews.
Founded by Dr Andrew Bell in 1832, Madras College provided an outstanding education and many families moved to St Andrews so that their children could benefit from this education. The school had grown rapidly after its foundation and when Pullar attended the number of pupils there was many times the number of students at the University in St Andrews.
After completing his secondary education at Madras College, Pullar first matriculated at the University of St Andrews in October 1878, becoming a Pyper bursar. In his first year of study he took classes in Greek 1, Latin 1, and Mathematics 1. In 1879-80, his second year of study, Pullar took the courses Logic, Greek 2, and Latin 2. In the following year he took Moral Philosophy, Mathematics 2, and English Literature, then in his final year 1882-83 he studied Mathematics 3 and Education. He graduated with an M.A. on 22 April 1883.
After graduating, Pullar was an Assistant Mathematics teacher at Madras College before moving to the west of Scotland where he was appointed to Hamilton Academy, again as a mathematics teacher. He moved in 1889, this time returning to the east of Scotland to take up a post as teacher of Mathematics and Science at Montrose Academy.
Pullar joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in June 1898 when he was at the Academy in Montrose. He remained in the Society for about five years.
Pullar married Mary Scrimgeour who came from Surrey in England. They had a son David Scrimgeour Pullar who was born on 13 November 1888 when Pullar was teaching in the west of Scotland. Mary Pullar died in Edinburgh in 1940, and David Pullar, who was a mining engineer, also died in Edinburgh on 10 November 1967. David Pullar was unmarried and left his home at 1 Ravelston Terrace, Edinburgh, to the Rev. Henry James Young, Minister of the Dean Parish Church.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson