Famous British Scientists Of The 19th Century

19th century can be rightly called as the time of innovation, discovery and invention. The century gave us many prominent and celebrated individuals who changed the world thoroughly with their vision and dream. The period marks the dawn of technological advancement, a scientific revolution, electrification and great advancement in medicine and science. But most of this could not have been possible had it not been for the scientists of the era. And while talking about scientists, 19th century saw some of the most able scientists coming from the land of Brits. British scientists of the 19th century can be credited for some of the most important inventions that casted a huge impact on humanity and the way we live, even today. Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction that became the operating principle of transformers and all electric generators. James Marsh is credited for detecting arsenic poisoning through his Marsh test. Charles Babbage came up with the world’s first mechanical and general purpose programmable computer that changed the world completely. World’s first incandescent light by passing a current from a battery, was discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in the 19th century. Given below is the list of famous 19th century British scientists who transformed the world completely with their inventions and discoveries.

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 Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin.
19
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: February 12, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Mount House, Shrewsbury, England
Died: April 19, 1882

Widely regarded as one of the most influential personalities in the history of mankind, Charles Darwin was an English biologist, naturalist, and geologist. He is credited with publishing the Theory of Evolution, which explains the evolution of life from a unicellular organism to human beings. A prolific writer, Charles Darwin also wrote important books on plants and barnacles.

 2 Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming.
4
Famous As: Biologist, Pharmacologist, Discovered Penicillin
Birthdate: August 6, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lochfield, Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: March 11, 1955

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish microbiologist and physician. He is credited with discovering penicillin, the world's first effective antibiotic substance; a discovery that changed the course of history. He also discovered lysozyme, an antimicrobial enzyme which forms part of the innate immune system. In 1999, Fleming was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century list.

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 3 Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford.
6
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist
Birthdate: August 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brightwater, New Zealand
Died: October 19, 1937

New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford is remembered as the father of nuclear physics. His discovery of radioactive half-life and of radon, and his differentiation of alpha and beta radiation, won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. Element 104 was named rutherfordium in his honor.

 4 J. J. Thomson

J. J. Thomson.
4
Famous As: Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: December 18, 1856
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchester, Lancashire, UK
Died: August 30, 1940

J. J. Thomson was a British physicist credited with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle to be discovered. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1906 for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases. In 1884, he was appointed Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge. 

 5 Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell.
17
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 18, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trellech, Monmouthshire, Wales
Died: February 2, 1970

Bertrand Russell was a British polymath and Nobel laureate. His work, which is spread across various fields, has had a considerable influence on philosophy, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, mathematics, linguistics, and logic. Russell is also credited with leading the revolt against idealism in Britain and is regarded as one of the founders of analytic philosophy.

 6 George Boole

George Boole.
11
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Logician
Birthdate: November 2, 1815
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lincoln
Died: December 8, 1864

George Boole is remembered for pioneering Boolean algebra, a tool used in digital computer circuits. More of a self-taught mathematician, Boole began teaching at 16 and later grew up to be a math professor at Queen’s College, Cork. His work in differential equations and algebraic logic was groundbreaking.

 7 Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace.
4
Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Geographer, Anthropologist and Biologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanbadoc
Died: November 7, 1913

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace is largely remembered for his theory of evolution through natural selection, which inspired Charles Darwin’s studies. He began his career as a surveyor’s apprentice and later introduced concepts such as reinforcement in animals, also known as the Wallace effect. He was awarded the Order of Merit.

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 8 G. H. Hardy

G. H. Hardy.
13
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 7, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cranleigh, United Kingdom
Died: December 1, 1947

English mathematician G. H. Hardy is best recognised for his work and achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis, and also as mentor of distinguished Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. He is noted for his essay on mathematics titled A Mathematician's Apology. He also made his mark in biology formulating a basic principle of population genetics called Hardy–Weinberg principle.  

 9 Lord Kelvin

Lord Kelvin.
5
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: June 26, 1824
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast
Died: December 17, 1907

Lord Kelvin was a British mathematical physicist and engineer. He studied at the Glasgow University and proceeded to teach there as well. Besides his academic career, he also had a career as an electric telegraph engineer and inventor. He received the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1883. Absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honor.

 10 William Herschel

William Herschel.
4
Famous As: Astronomer, Composer
Birthdate: November 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: August 21, 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. 

 11 James Chadwick

James Chadwick.
5
Famous As: Discoverer of Neutron
Birthdate: October 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bollington
Died: July 24, 1974

Best remembered as a Nobel laureate who discovered neutron, Sir James Chadwick began his career at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he worked with Ernest Rutherford to investigate the nature of atomic nucleus, a work that led to the epoch-making discovery. Credited with writing the final draft of the MAUD Report, he also headed the British team at the Manhattan Project

 12 Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace.
39
Famous As: Countess of Lovelace
Birthdate: December 10, 1815
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: November 27, 1852

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician known for her work on the Analytical Engine, a mechanical general-purpose computer proposed by Charles Babbage. Many believe that Lovelace was the first to recognize the potential of computers. It is also believed that she published the first algorithm after realizing that the algorithm could be carried out by a machine like the Analytical Engine.

 13 Henry Moseley

Henry Moseley.
5
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 23, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Weymouth, Dorset, England
Died: August 10, 1915

Henry Moseley was an English physicist best known for his development of Moseley's law in X-ray spectra. He made major contributions to the fields of atomic physics, nuclear physics, and quantum physics. He was working at the University of Oxford when World War I broke out, following which he went to volunteer for the Royal Engineers of the British Army. 

 14 James Prescott Joule

James Prescott Joule.
5
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 24, 1818
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Salford, Lancashire, England, UK
Died: October 11, 1889

English physicist, and mathematician, James Prescott Joule primarily worked on the nature of heat, in course of which he established that all forms of energy are fundamentally same and therefore inter-convertible. His findings resulted in the development of the first law of thermodynamics and negation of calorie theory. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after him.

 15 William Henry Perkin

William Henry Perkin
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: March 12, 1838
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 14, 1907

William Henry Perkin is best remembered for his chance discovery of the dye mauveine, made of aniline purple. He had apparently discovered the dye while attempting to synthesize quinine. The Royal Medal-winning British chemist also studied salicyl alcohol and flavoring agents and synthesized the first artificial perfume.

 16 Arthur Eddington

Arthur Eddington.
4
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 28, 1882
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kendal
Died: November 22, 1944

Arthur Eddington was an English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician. He wrote numerous articles that explained Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. He began his career in academics and eventually shifted to astronomy, becoming the chief assistant to the Astronomer Royal at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. He was a recipient of the Henry Draper Medal. 

 17 Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll.
9
Famous As: Novelist, Mathematician & Photographer
Birthdate: January 27, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Daresbury, Cheshire, England
Died: January 14, 1898
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, is remembered for his iconic children’s fiction such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. He explored the genre of literary nonsense with his poems such as Jabberwocky. He was also a photographer, a mathematician, and an inventor.

 18 J.B.S. Haldane

J.B.S. Haldane.
4
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: November 5, 1892
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oxford, United Kingdom
Died: December 1, 1964

British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane is remembered for his pioneering use of statistics in biology. A proponent of neo-Darwinism, he was the son of physiologist John Scott Haldane and had begun assisting his father at age 8. He later joined the British Communist Party and also moved to India.

 19 Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 26, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: April 29, 1951

Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is remembered for his works related to logic, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of mathematics, and the philosophy of language. He taught at the University of Cambridge for many years. He published only one book during his lifetime. Most of his manuscripts were collected later and published posthumously.

 20 John Logie Baird

John Logie Baird.
6
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Helensburgh
Died: June 14, 1946

Scottish inventor, electrical engineer, and innovator, John Logie Baird, is best known for demonstrating a working TV system in 1926. He then went on to invent the first viable purely electronic color TV picture tube and founded the Baird Television Development Company. He was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015.

 21 William Ramsay

William Ramsay.
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: October 2, 1852
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: July 23, 1916

The son of a civil engineer, Nobel Prize-winning Scottish chemist William Ramsay revolutionized science with his pathbreaking discovery of the noble gases, thus forming an entirely new segment of the periodic table. He is also remembered for his long association with UCL. He was knighted for his achievements.

 22 Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley.
4
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: May 4, 1825
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ealing, Middlesex
Died: June 29, 1895

Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist and anthropologist. He specialized in comparative anatomy and was a proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Despite having little formal schooling, he went on to become one of the finest comparative anatomists of the 19th century. He was the chair of natural history at the Royal School of Mines for 31 years. 

 23 Joseph Lister

Joseph Lister.
4
Famous As: Surgeon and Scientist
Birthdate: April 5, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Upton House, West Ham, England
Died: February 10, 1912

British surgeon Joseph Lister was a pioneer of antiseptic medicine usage and made a huge contribution to the development of preventive medicine for bacterial infection. His achievements have been honored by many, such as the makers of Listerine antiseptic and mouthwash, who named their product after him.

 24 George Paget Thomson

George Paget Thomson.
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 3, 1892
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cambridge
Died: September 10, 1975

George Paget Thomson was a British physicist best remembered for his discovery of the wave properties of the electron by electron diffraction. The son of physicist and Nobel laureate J. J. Thomson, he himself went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937. He spent several years of his career at Imperial College London. 

 25 Ronald Fisher

Ronald Fisher.
4
Famous As: Statistician
Birthdate: February 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Finchley, London, England
Died: July 29, 1962

Ronald Fisher was a British polymath, statistician, geneticist, mathematician, and academic. He is credited to have single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science. He made important contributions to the field of genetics and is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1929. 

 26 Stamford Raffles

Stamford Raffles.
5
Famous As: Former Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
Birthdate: July 6, 1781
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Port Morant, Jamaica
Died: July 5, 1826

Stamford Raffles was a British statesman who served as the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies from 1811 to 1816. From 1818 to 1824, he served as the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen. Raffles is best remembered for founding the Straits Settlements and modern Singapore. He also played a major role in the invasion of Java in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars.

 27 Jan Smuts

Jan Smuts
6
Famous As: Botanist, Officer, Lawyer
Birthdate: May 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Malmesbury, Western Cape
Died: September 11, 1950

Jan Smuts was a South African military leader, statesman, and philosopher. He played a key role in the formation of the Union of South Africa and helped shape its constitution. From 1919 to 1924 and again from 1939 to 1948, he served as the Union of South Africa's prime minister. He played a major role in establishing the United Nations.

 28 Arthur Cayley

Arthur Cayley.
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 16, 1821
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Richmond, Surrey, UK
Died: January 26, 1895

 29 James Glaisher

James Glaisher
4
Famous As: Meteorologists
Birthdate: April 7, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rotherhithe, London, England
Died: February 7, 1903

Renowned meteorologist and aeronaut James Glaisher was a pioneer of balloon flights and had penned the iconic book Travels in the Air. He had also contributed to the formation of the Meteorological Society and the Aeronautical Society of Britain. The 2019 movie The Aeronauts depicts his exploits as a balloonist.

 30 Lord Rayleigh

Lord Rayleigh.
3
Famous As: Discoverer of Argon
Birthdate: November 12, 1842
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Langford Grove, Maldon, Essex, England
Died: June 30, 1919

Although John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, received the Nobel Prize for his discovery and isolation of the inert gas argon, his contributions to Physics is not limited to that. Known to make extensive contributions to theoretical and practical physics, especially in the fields of acoustics and optics, his works are now considered to mark the beginning of modern acoustics.

 31 William Henry Bragg

William Henry Bragg.
3
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
Birthdate: July 2, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wigton
Died: March 10, 1942

William Henry Bragg was an English physicist, chemist, and mathematician. He is best known for sharing the  1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his son Lawrence Bragg for their work in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. William Henry Bragg had an illustrious academic career and was elected president of the Royal Society in 1935. 

 32 Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes.
4
Famous As: Paleobotanist & Women’s Rights Activists
Birthdate: October 15, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: October 2, 1958

 33 Ronald Ross

Ronald Ross.
4
Famous As: Medical doctor
Birthdate: May 13, 1857
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Almora
Died: September 16, 1932

Nobel Prize-winning British doctor Ronald Ross is best remembered for his pathbreaking work on malaria, which proved that the disease was caused by the Anopheles variant of mosquitoes. After his extensive research in India, he went back to London, where he was knighted. He also wrote poetry and songs.

 34 Chaim Weizmann

Chaim Weizmann.
4
Famous As: Former President of Israel
Birthdate: November 27, 1874
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Motal
Died: November 9, 1952

Born in Russia, biochemist Chaim Weizmann was a World Zionist Organization leader and later also became the first president of Israel. He had a major role in the Balfour Declaration. Remembered for his research on industrial fermentation, gasoline, and rubber, he also helped establish the Weizmann Institute.

 35 Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead.
9
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: February 15, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ramsgate, Kent, England
Died: December 30, 1947

Alfred North Whitehead was a British mathematician and philosopher, best known for his collaboration with his student Bertrand Russell on Principal of Mathematics, a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics. Also known for his pioneering works on process philosophy and metaphysics, he is credited with developing a comprehensive metaphysical system that differs from most Western philosophies.

 36 Karl Pearson

Karl Pearson
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Historian of mathematics, Statistician, Historian, Philosopher, Biographer
Birthdate: March 27, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: April 27, 1936

One of the greatest statisticians of all time, Karl Pearson established the first university-level statistics department at UCL and also launched the statistics-oriented journal Biometrika. He was also well-versed in law and believed in eugenics. His The Grammar of Science later inspired Albert Einstein and other scientists.

 37 John Edensor Littlewood

John Edensor Littlewood
3
Famous As: Mathematician, University teacher
Birthdate: June 9, 1885
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rochester
Died: September 6, 1977

 38 Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild

Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
3
Famous As: Biologist, Banker, Politician, Zoologist, Ornithologist, Entomologist, Lepidopterist
Birthdate: February 8, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England
Died: August 27, 1937

 39 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
6
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.

 40 Henry Fox Talbot

Henry Fox Talbot.
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: February 11, 1800
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dorset
Died: September 17, 1877

 41 Oliver Heaviside

Oliver Heaviside
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Engineer, Telegraphy
Birthdate: May 18, 1850
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camden Town
Died: February 3, 1925

Oliver Heaviside was an English mathematician and physicist. He invented a new technique for solving differential equations and independently developed vector calculus. He is also credited with rewriting Maxwell's equations in the form commonly used today. He formulated the telegrapher’s equations and invented the Heaviside step function as well. In 1922, he received the Faraday Medal.

 42 Frederick Soddy

Frederick Soddy.
3
Famous As: Radiochemist
Birthdate: September 2, 1877
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eastbourne
Died: September 22, 1956

 43 Joseph Swan

Joseph Swan
4
Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Inventor
Birthdate: October 31, 1828
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sunderland
Died: May 27, 1914

Joseph Swan was an English chemist, physicist, and inventor known for being an independent early developer of a successful incandescent light bulb. He developed and supplied the first batch of incandescent lights used for illuminating houses and public buildings. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1894 and knighted by King Edward VII in 1904. 

 44 Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll
6
Famous As: Horticulturist, Painter, Gardener, Non-fiction writer, Botanist, Architect
Birthdate: November 29, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 8, 1932

 45 Julian Huxley

Julian Huxley
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: June 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 14, 1975

 46 Richard Owen

Richard Owen
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: July 20, 1804
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lancaster, England
Died: December 18, 1892

 47 Robert Watson-Watt

Robert Watson-Watt
3
Famous As: Developer
Birthdate: April 13, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brechin, Scotland
Died: December 5, 1973

Robert Watson-Watt, often called the father of radar was a British physicist who did pioneering work in radio direction finding (RDF) and radar technology. He developed high-frequency direction finding (huff-duff) as a system for locating lightning. It was later introduced during the Second World War and played an instrumental role in intelligence, mainly in catching enemy radios while they transmitted.

 48 John Tyndall

John Tyndall.
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 2, 1820
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland
Died: December 4, 1893

Born into a poor Protestant family, Irish physicist John Tyndall was a self-made man who funded his own doctoral education. His contributions include his research on the greenhouse effect and the discovery of the Tyndall effect. Not known to many, he was also an avid mountaineer and glaciologist.

 49 John Venn

John Venn.
4
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 4, 1834
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kingston upon Hull
Died: April 4, 1923

 50 Sir William Lawrence Bragg

Sir William Lawrence Bragg.
3
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: March 31, 1890
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: North Adelaide, South Australia
Died: July 1, 1971

Born to a math and physics professor in Australia, Sir William Lawrence Bragg later moved to England, where his father was posted for work. He and his father jointly won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their research on X-ray diffraction through crystals. Bragg was an avid shell collector, too.