British Male Inventors & Discoverers

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 Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee
5
Famous As: Inventor of the World Wide Web
Birthdate: June 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England

Widely known as ten inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee made the first communication between an HTTP client and server through the internet in 1989. He is associated with various organizations, such as the W3C and the World Wide Web Foundation, and has received the knighthood, too.

 2 John Logie Baird

John Logie Baird
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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.

 3 George Stephenson

George Stephenson
4
Famous As: Father of Railways
Birthdate: June 9, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wylam
Died: August 12, 1848

George Stephenson was a British mechanical and civil engineer. Stephenson is credited with pioneering rail transport which is widely regarded as one of the most prominent inventions of the 19th century. Regarded as the Father of Railways, George Stephenson is also credited with developing the standard rail gauge which is used by several railways around the world.

 4 Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage
4
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.

 5 Edd China

Edd China
4
Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: May 9, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Edd China is best known as the host of the Discovery Channel show Wheeler Dealers. He has also been part of Fifth Gear and Top Gear. He established Cummfy Banana Limited. After racing a motorized sofa at 148 km/h, China set a Guinness record for the fastest furniture.

 6 James Dyson

James Dyson
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Famous As: Inventor of the dual cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner
Birthdate: May 2, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cromer, England

James Dyson is a British industrial designer, inventor, entrepreneur, and landowner. He is credited with founding the popular technology company, Dyson Ltd. He is also credited with inventing the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner. Also known for his philanthropic activities, Dyson established the James Dyson Foundation to support engineering education and to inspire young people.

 7 Frank Whittle

Frank Whittle
4
Famous As: Engineer, Inventor, Royal Air Force Air Officer
Birthdate: June 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Coventry, England
Died: August 9, 1996

Aviation engineer Frank Whittle entered the Royal Air Force as an apprentice and rose through the ranks to become a pilot. He invented the jet engine, though his idea of a plane that could fly at a phenomenal speed was initially laughed at. He was later knighted for his achievements.

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 8 Francis Galton

Francis Galton
4
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: February 16, 1822
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Birmingham
Died: January 17, 1911

Nineteenth-century polymath Francis Galton revolutionized science with his pathbreaking research on human intelligence and psychometrics. His books dealt with diverse topics such as correlational calculus, fingerprint analysis, and meteorology, and he also explored Africa. He left Cambridge without an honors degree, and yet ended up being knighted for his achievements.

 9 Henry Bessemer

Henry Bessemer
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: January 19, 1813
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Charlton, England
Died: March 15, 1898

 10 James Chadwick

James Chadwick
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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

 11 William Henry Perkin

William Henry Perkin
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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.

 12 Hiram Maxim

Hiram Maxim
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: February 5, 1840
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sangerville
Died: November 24, 1916

 13 Richard Arkwright

Richard Arkwright
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 23, 1732
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Preston, Lancashire, England
Died: August 3, 1792

Initially a wig-maker, Richard Arkwright later grew an interest in the spinning mechanism, building the Arkwright’s water frame, which used water power to produce cotton yarn. He soon became a name to reckon with in the textile industry, with many mills to his name. He was knighted for his feats.

 14 Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick
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Famous As: Pioneer of steam-powered road & rail transport
Birthdate: April 13, 1771
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tregajorran, Cornwall, England
Died: April 22, 1833

Richard Trevithick was a British mining engineer and inventor. A pioneer of rail transport and steam-powered vehicles, Trevithick is credited with developing the first working railway steam locomotive and the first high-pressure steam engine. He was a highly respected figure in the fields of engineering and mining during the peak of his career.

 15 Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger
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Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 13, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rendcomb
Died: November 19, 2013

Frederick Sanger remains one of only two people to have won the Nobel Prize twice in the same category. The British biochemist is remembered for his ground-breaking work on nucleic acids and the insulin molecule. The son of a Quaker medical missionary, Sanger, too, grew up believing in Quakerism.

 16 Barnes Wallis

Barnes Wallis
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: September 26, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ripley, Derbyshire, England
Died: October 30, 1979

Barnes Wallis was an English engineer, inventor, and scientist. He played an important role during the Second World War by inventing the bouncing bomb which was used in Operation Chastise by the Royal Air Force to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley. Barnes Wallis is also credited with inventing the earthquake bomb and his version of the geodetic airframe.

 17 Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull
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Famous As: Agricultural Pioneer
Birthdate: March 30, 1674
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Basildon
Died: February 21, 1741

A pioneer of modern British agriculture, Jethro Tull made many inventions, such as a horse-drawn mechanism for sowing seeds. Though he was trained to be a lawyer, he chose to work on his father’s farm instead. His studies on agriculture were later released as The New Horse Houghing Husbandry.

 18 Clive Sinclair

Clive Sinclair
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Engineer, Inventor, Computer scientist
Birthdate: July 30, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Surrey

A consumer electronics pioneer, entrepreneur Clive Sinclair began his business venture selling radio and amplifier kits. He went on to launch the word’s first pocket calculator and later also worked on products such as digital watches and pocket TV. He is a fan of poker and is a Mensa member.

 19 Charles K. Kao

Charles K. Kao
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Famous As: Electrical Engineer
Birthdate: November 4, 1933
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shanghai, China
Died: September 23, 2018

Nobel Prize-winning Chinese physicist Charles K. Kao is best remembered for his discovery of how light is transmitted through fibre-optic cables. Named the Godfather of Broadband, he was also knighted by the U.K. Following his diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, he co-founded the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease.

 20 Joseph Swan

Joseph Swan
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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. 

 21 John Herschel

John Herschel
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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.

 22 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.

 23 Henry Fox Talbot

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

Henry Fox Talbot was an English photography pioneer, inventor, and scientist. He is best remembered for inventing the calotype and salted paper processes that served as predecessors to photographic processes of the 20th century. He is also credited with inventing the photoglyphic engraving process. Henry Fox Talbot also played a major role in the progression of photography as an art.

 24 John Harington

John Harington
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Famous As: English author
Birthdate: August 4, 1561
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kelston, United Kingdom
Died: November 20, 1612

Though a witty author, John Harington is better remembered as the inventor of the flush toilet. He was banished from the royal court for the cockiness of his language in his written works. He also earned a knighthood and later came to be known as Queen Elizabeth’s “saucy godson.”

 25 Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen
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Famous As: Inventor of Atmospheric Steam Engine
Birthdate: January 31, 1664
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dartmouth
Died: August 5, 1729

 26 Andre Geim

Andre Geim
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia

Andre Geim is a Russian-born Dutch-British physicist. He has been associated with the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester for several years. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov in recognition of his work on graphene. He is also a recipient of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics. 

 27 Robert Watson-Watt

Robert Watson-Watt
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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.

 28 John Boyd Dunlop

John Boyd Dunlop
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Famous As: Inventor, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: February 5, 1840
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dreghorn
Died: October 23, 1921

 29 Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth
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Famous As: Entrepreneur, Astronaut, Engineer, Inventor, Scientist, Blogger, Businessperson, Computer scientist
Birthdate: September 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Welkom

Mark Shuttleworth is a South African-British entrepreneur. He is credited with founding Canonical, the company that developed the popular Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. Mark Shuttleworth became the first African from an independent country and the first South African to travel to space; he traveled as a space tourist in 2002.

 30 Henry Shrapnel

Henry Shrapnel
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: June 3, 1761
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bradford-on-Avon, England
Died: March 13, 1842

 31 Ian Wilmut

Ian Wilmut
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Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: July 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hampton Lucy, England

British biologist Ian Wilmut revolutionized embryology by leading the team of researchers who successfully created the first cloned mammal, the sheep named Dolly. A leading proponent of cryopreservation, he also implanted the first calf embryo, Frostie, in a surrogate cow. He was later knighted for his achievements.

 32 George Cayley

George Cayley
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 27, 1773
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Scarborough, England
Died: December 15, 1857

British engineer and inventor George Cayley was a pioneer of aeronautics and aviation. He designed the world’s first glider that could successfully carry a human being. He was also a prominent Whig and had contributed to the formation of what is now known as the University of Westminster.

 33 James Hargreaves

James Hargreaves
3
Famous As: Weaver, carpenter and inventor who was was one of three men responsible for the mechanisation of spinning
Birthdate: December 13, 1720
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England
Died: April 22, 1778

 34 Thomas Savery

Thomas Savery
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Famous As: engineer, inventor
Birthdate: 1650 AD
Birthplace: Modbury
Died: April 30, 1715

 35 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. 

 36 James Dewar

James Dewar
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 20, 1842
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kincardine, Scotland
Died: March 27, 1923

James Dewar was a British chemist and physicist best known for his invention of the vacuum flask. He conducted considerable research into the liquefaction of gases and atomic and molecular spectroscopy. He also wrote papers on the qualities of hydrogen and organic chemistry. He was awarded the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts and the Rumford Medal. 

 37 Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: April 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nottinghamshire
Died: October 30, 1823

 38 Rowland Hill

Rowland Hill
2
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: December 3, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kidderminster, England
Died: August 27, 1879

Born to a schoolmaster, Rowland Hill followed in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher and explored subjects such as astronomy and math. He is, however, best remembered for his reform of the postal system, including increasing the speed of letter transfer and introducing the prototype of the postage stamp.  

 39 Benjamin Thompson

Benjamin Thompson
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Famous As: Physicist and Inventor
Birthdate: March 26, 1753
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Woburn, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 21, 1814

 40 Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 21, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stockport, England
Died: January 22, 1887

Mechanical engineer Joseph Whitworth is best remembered for devising the British Standard Whitworth system for screw threads. He contributed a lot to the development of Owens College, introduced a scholarship, and left most of his fortunes to the people of Manchester. He was also made a baronet of the U.K.

 41 Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall
3
Famous As: British inventor
Birthdate: July 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 5, 2012

 42 Trevor Baylis

Trevor Baylis
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Famous As: Swimmer, Inventor
Birthdate: May 13, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

 43 John Shepherd-Barron

John Shepherd-Barron
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Famous As: Inventor, Military personnel
Birthdate: June 23, 1925
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Shillong
Died: May 15, 2010

 44 James Starley

James Starley
2
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: April 21, 1830
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Albourne, England
Died: June 17, 1881

 45 Charles Algernon Parsons

Charles Algernon Parsons
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 13, 1854
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 11, 1931

Copley Medal-winning engineer Charles Algernon Parsons revolutionized marine transport with his invention of a multi-stage steam turbine. His other inventions include a mechanical reducing gear. Apart from being named a Fellow of the Royal Society, he was also knighted and awarded an Order of Merit for his contributions.

 46 John Ambrose Fleming

John Ambrose Fleming
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: November 29, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lancaster, England
Died: April 18, 1945

John Ambrose Fleming was an English electrical engineer and physicist. He is known for inventing the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube and designing the radio transmitter with which the first transatlantic radio transmission was made. Along with  Douglas Dewar and Bernard Acworth, he helped establish the Evolution Protest Movement. Fleming was also a noted photographer and artist. 

 

 47 Harry Ferguson

Harry Ferguson
4
Famous As: Mechanic
Birthdate: November 4, 1884
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dromore, Northern Ireland
Died: October 25, 1960

Known as the Mad Mechanic, Harry Ferguson was the man behind the invention of the modern tractor, popularly known as the Wee Grey Fergie. He was also the first Irish to build and fly his own plane. His legacy lives on in the Massey Ferguson brand of agricultural machinery.

 48 George Daniels

George Daniels
3
Famous As: watchmaker, non-fiction writer
Birthdate: August 19, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London
Died: October 21, 2011

 49 Samuel Crompton

Samuel Crompton
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 3, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Firwood, England
Died: June 26, 1827

 50 William Friese-Greene

William Friese-Greene
2
Famous As: Photographer, Inventor
Birthdate: September 7, 1855
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bristol
Died: May 5, 1921

William Friese-Greene was a British photographer and inventor. A pioneer of motion pictures, Friese-Greene is remembered for devising a series of cameras with which he shot moving pictures in London. Despite earning substantial amount of money throughout his career, Friese-Greene died in poverty as he spent his earnings on his inventions. His life inspired a biopic titled The Magic Box.