Famous 18th Century British Scientists

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century British Scientists, including Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, John Dalton, Humphry Davy and William Herschel.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday
7
Famous As: Physicist & Chemist
Birthdate: September 22, 1791
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newington Butts
Died: August 25, 1867

Michael Faraday was an English scientist known for his contribution to the study of electrochemistry and electromagnetism. Considered one of the most influential scientists ever, Faraday's inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices established the basis for electric motor technology. His research also helped understand the concept of the electromagnetic field. Ernest Rutherford called him one of the greatest scientific discoverers ever.

 2 Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage
13
Famous As: Father of the computer
Birthdate: December 26, 1791
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 18, 1871
Charles Babbage, or the “father of the computer,” invented the prototype of the world’s first mechanical calculator, the Difference Engine. With the help of mathematician Ada Lovelace, he also created the Analytical Engine, the first general-purpose computer and a precursor of the modern computer, with its looping and sequential mechanism.
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 3 John Dalton

John Dalton
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Meteorologist
Birthdate: September 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eaglesfield, Cumberland, England
Died: July 27, 1844

John Dalton was an English chemist, physicist, and meteorologist most famous for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry. He also contributed a lot to the study of color blindness, sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honor. He was the first scientist to refer to the smallest particle of matter as an “atom.” He was a Quaker and lived modestly. 

 4 William Herschel

William Herschel
4
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: August 23, 1822

William Herschel was a German-born British astronomer and composer. He pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry and discovered infrared radiation. Impressed by his work, King George III appointed him the Court Astronomer. Herschel often collaborated with his sister, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, a fellow astronomer. In 1816, he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order. 

 5 Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley
5
Famous As: Discoverer of Oxygen
Birthdate: March 24, 1733
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birstall
Died: February 6, 1804

Best remembered for his contribution to the chemistry of gases, Joseph Priestley was an English scientist, clergyman, political theorist and educator, who has been credited with discovering oxygen independently, publishing his findings before Carl Wilhelm could. A prolific writer, he has authored 150 works on various subjects including electricity. He also contributed immensely to the advancement of political and religious thoughts.

 6 Humphry Davy

Humphry Davy
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Famous As: Inventor of Davy Lamp
Birthdate: December 17, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penzance, England
Died: May 29, 1829

Best remembered for his invention of the Davy lamp, a safety lamp for miners, Humphry Davy initially aspired to be a doctor but later deviated to chemistry. The Copley Medal winner had co-founded the Zoological Society of London. He also excelled in writing poetry and loved fishing.

 7 Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: October 10, 1731
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nice
Died: February 24, 1810

English natural philosopher, scientist, and a prominent experimental and theoretical physicist and chemist Henry Cavendish is best-remembered for his discovery of hydrogen and his Cavendish experiment. He first recognized that hydrogen, which he termed inflammable air, is a discrete substance which produces water on combustion. He conducted the Cavendish experiment to measure and produce a value for Earth’s density.

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 8 Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley
5
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 8, 1656
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Haggerston, Shoreditch, London, England
Died: January 14, 1742

Edmond Halley was an English astronomer and mathematician who was mainly concerned with practical applications of science. He abandoned college education to travel to St. Helena. He published catalogue of 341 southern stars with telescopically determined locations. Known for his wide range of interest, he helped Newton to publish his magnum opus,  Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. He used Newton's Law of Motion to compute periodicty of Halley’s Comet.

 9 Thomas Young

Thomas Young
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: June 13, 1773
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Milverton
Died: May 10, 1829

Often referred as The Last Man Who Knew Everything, British polymath Thomas Young made significant contributions to a wide range of subjects like vision, light, energy, musical harmony etc. Especially famous for Wave Theory of Light, he also made significant contribution in deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Young-Helmholtz theory, Young temperament and Young's Modulus carry his legacy to these days.

 10 Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner
4
Famous As: Physicians
Birthdate: May 17, 1749
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berkeley, England
Died: January 26, 1823

Edward Jenner was an English scientist and physician. Referred to as the father of immunology, Jenner is credited with pioneering the concept of vaccines. Jenner's work laid the foundation for subsequent discoveries in the field of immunology; his work is believed to have saved more lives than any other work. In 2002, Jenner was included in BBC’s Greatest Britons list.

 11 Charles Lyell

Charles Lyell
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Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: November 14, 1797
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Angus
Died: February 22, 1875

Charles Lyell was a Scottish geologist best remembered for his work Principles of Geology, which explains the origin of the earth. He is also remembered for his pioneering explanation of climate change. A close friend of Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell is also credited with influencing many of Darwin's works pertaining to the theories of evolution.  

 12 Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks
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Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: February 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London
Died: June 19, 1820

 13 James Hutton

James Hutton
4
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: June 3, 1726
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: March 26, 1797

 14 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
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Famous As: Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 15 Robert Brown

Robert Brown
5
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: December 21, 1773
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Montrose, Scotland
Died: June 10, 1858

 16 Thomas Bayes

Thomas Bayes
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Statistician
Birthdate: 1702 AD
Birthplace: London
Died: April 7, 1761

 17 William Buckland

William Buckland
3
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: March 12, 1784
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Axminster, Devon, England
Died: August 14, 1856

 18 John Soane

John Soane
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Famous As: Architect, Archaeologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1753
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Reading
Died: January 20, 1837

 19 John Herschel

John Herschel
3
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: March 7, 1792
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: May 11, 1871

The son of renowned astronomer William Herschel, John Herschel was educated at Eton and Cambridge and grew up to be a polymath. Apart from contributing to the field of photography, he was known for cataloguing and naming stars and satellites. He briefly also served as the Master of the Royal Mint.

 20 William Whewell

William Whewell
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Famous As: Economist, Physicist, Historian, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: May 24, 1794
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lancaster
Died: March 6, 1866

William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He worked in a wide range of fields, publishing works in the disciplines of physics, mechanics, geology, economics, and astronomy. He also wrote poetry, sermons, and theological tracts. He is credited with coining the terms linguistics, physicist, consilience, scientist, catastrophism, and uniformitarianism.

 21 David Brewster

David Brewster
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: December 11, 1781
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jedburgh, Scotland
Died: February 10, 1868

David Brewster was a British scientist, inventor, and author. He conducted many experiments in physical optics, especially concerned with the study of the polarization of light. Fellow scientist William Whewell dubbed him the "father of modern experimental optics." He was also a pioneer in photography and invented an improved stereoscope. He wrote numerous works of popular science as well. 

 22 Charles Mason

Charles Mason
3
Famous As: astronomer
Birthdate: March 31, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oakridge
Died: October 25, 1786

 23 Joseph Black

Joseph Black
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: April 16, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 6, 1799

Joseph Black was an 18th-century Scottish physicist and chemist. He is remembered for his discoveries of magnesium, specific heat, latent heat, and carbon dioxide. He spent several years of his career as a professor of medicine and chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. In 1783, he became one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

 24 William Playfair

William Playfair
3
Famous As: Economist, Mathematician, Engineer, Statistician
Birthdate: September 22, 1759
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dundee
Died: February 11, 1823

Scottish engineer and political economist William Playfair is best-remembered as the inventor of statistical graphs and secret agent for Great Britain during its war with France. He published the first data graphs in his book The Commercial and Political Atlas. He used line, area and bar charts to represent the economy of 18th Century England and introduced the pie chart.

 25 Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison
3
Famous As: Physician, scientist
Birthdate: April 2, 1793
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Longbenton, Northumberland
Died: June 29, 1860

The man behind the discoveries of ailments such as Addison's disease and Addison’s (pernicious) anemia, British physician Thomas Addison also co-wrote the first book on the effect of poisonous agents on the human body. He plunged into depression in his later years and eventually committed suicide.

 26 George Green

George Green
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: July 14, 1793
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, England
Died: May 31, 1841

With one year of formal schooling, George Green was entirely self-taught until the age of forty, when he entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. By then, he had published his first book, propagating what are now known as Green’s theorem and Green’s functions. A fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, he also established Green's identities, Green's law, and Green's matrix.

 27 William Smith

William Smith
3
Famous As: paleontologist, civil engineer, geologist
Birthdate: March 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Churchill
Died: August 28, 1839

 28 Gilbert White

Gilbert White
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: July 18, 1720
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Selborne, Hampshire, England
Died: June 26, 1793

 29 Charles Bell

Charles Bell
3
Famous As: Surgeon
Birthdate: November 12, 1774
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: April 28, 1842

Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, physiologist, anatomist, and neurologist. He was also an artist and philosophical theologian. He discovered the difference between sensory nerves and motor nerves in the spinal cord. He is also known for describing Bell's palsy. He played a key role in the creation of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. 

 30 Brook Taylor

Brook Taylor
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 18, 1685
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edmonton
Died: December 29, 1731

 31 Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin
3
Famous As: Edinburgh
Birthdate: February 1, 1698
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Argyll
Died: June 14, 1746

 32 William Jones

William Jones
3
Famous As: Philologist
Birthdate: September 28, 1746
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 27, 1794

 33 Jeremiah Dixon

Jeremiah Dixon
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 27, 1733
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cockfield, County Durham, England
Died: January 22, 1779

 34 Richard Price

Richard Price
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 23, 1723
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Llangeinor, Wales
Died: April 19, 1791

 35 William Cullen

William Cullen
3
Famous As: Physician, Chemist, Farmer, Academic, University teacher, Writer, Psychiatrist
Birthdate: April 15, 1710
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamilton
Died: February 5, 1790

 36 John Needham

John Needham
2
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1713
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 30, 1781

 37 John Flamsteed

John Flamsteed
2
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 19, 1646
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Denby
Died: December 31, 1719

 38 William Hyde Wollaston

William Hyde Wollaston
2
Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Metallurgist
Birthdate: August 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Norfolk
Died: December 22, 1828

William Hyde Wollaston was a pioneer of powder metallurgy and the first to develop malleable platinum from its ore. He is also credited with the discoveries of palladium and rhodium. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he dictated his last Bakerian lecture, as he was too ill to deliver it.

 39 James Bruce

James Bruce
3
Famous As: Explorer, Archaeologist, Film editor, Botanist
Birthdate: December 14, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stirling
Died: April 27, 1794

 40 Adam Sedgwick

Adam Sedgwick
2
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: March 22, 1785
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dent
Died: January 27, 1873

Adam Sedgwick was a British Anglican priest and geologist. He is credited with guiding and mentoring Charles Darwin during his early years. However, Sedgwick went on to oppose Darwin's theory of evolution. The world's oldest student-run geological society, The Sedgwick Club, was established in his honor in 1880.

 41 James Ivory

James Ivory
1
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 17, 1765
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: September 21, 1842

 42 Gideon Mantell

Gideon Mantell
2
Famous As: Obstetrician
Birthdate: February 3, 1790
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lewes, England
Died: November 10, 1852

 43 Thomas Chalmers

Thomas Chalmers
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Theologian, Writer, University teacher, Economist
Birthdate: March 17, 1780
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Anstruther
Died: May 30, 1847

Scottish Presbyterian minister and political economist Thomas Chalmers has been immortalized by the town of Port Chalmers in New Zealand, named after him. An ordained minister, he was initially a math lecturer. He later became the Free Church of Scotland’s first moderator. He tried applying Christian ethics to economic problems.

 44 John Arbuthnot

John Arbuthnot
2
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 29, 1667
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kincardineshire
Died: February 27, 1735

 45 James Rennell

James Rennell
2
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: December 3, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chudleigh, England
Died: March 29, 1830

James Rennell was an English historian and geographer. A pioneer of oceanography, Rennell is often referred to as the Father of Oceanography. Rennell, who served as a Surveyor General of Bengal, India, is credited with producing some of the earliest accurate maps of Bengal. James Rennell is also credited with co-founding the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1830.

 46 William Sturgeon

William Sturgeon
2
Famous As: Physicist, Inventor
Birthdate: May 22, 1783
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whittington
Died: December 4, 1850

William Sturgeon was an English physicist and inventor. He invented the first practical English electric motor and made the first electromagnets. A self-taught genius, he became a lecturer at the East India Company's Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey. Along with John Peter Gassiot and Charles Vincent Walker, he was instrumental in founding the London Electrical Society in 1837. 

 47 James Bradley

James Bradley
2
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 29, 1693
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sherborne, Gloucestershire, England
Died: July 13, 1762

 48 Dugald Stewart

Dugald Stewart
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 22, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh,Scotland
Died: June 11, 1828

 49 Robert Bakewell

Robert Bakewell
2
Famous As: Agriculturalist
Birthdate: May 23, 1725
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dishley, England
Died: October 1, 1795

 50 Nehemiah Grew

Nehemiah Grew
2
Famous As: Medico
Birthdate: September 26, 1641
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mancetter Parish, Warwickshire
Died: March 25, 1712