FAMOUS PEOPLE OF DEVON AND CORNWALL

FAMOUS DEVONIANS

AGATHA CHRISTIE

Born in Torquay, Devon. Born 1890. Died 1976 - English writer, creator of Miss Marple and Poirot. Educated at home. Wrote more than 70 detective novels many featuring the popular characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. West End productions of her stories included The Spider’s Web, Witness for the Prosecution and The Mousetrap. Wrote six romantic novels under pseudonym Mary Westmacott. In 1971 rceived Order of Dame Commander of the British Empire.

ALFRED WALLIS.

Born in Devonport, Devon. Born 1855. Died 1942 - English painter. Fisherman, scrap merchant and ice-cream vendor before beginning to paint at the age of 70. Paintings were drawn from his experiences at the sea. Discovered by the St Ives group, taken to a Penzance workhouse and continued to paint until he died. Work found in major collections in Britain and USA.

BERYL COOK.

Born in Plymouth, Devon.Sept 10th 1926 – May 28th 2008 English painter. Left school at 14. Worked in various jobs including being a showgirl and the fashion industry. Began painting in the 1950s, first exhibition in 1975 was an enormous success. Paints flamboyant and exuberant characters in scenes of everyday life. Awarded OBE in 1996.

CHARLES BABBAGE.

Born in Teignmouth, Devon.Born 1791. Died 1871 - English mathematician. He was educated at Cambridge, and spent most of his working life attempting to build calculating machines. His first machine ‘the difference engine’ was designed to calculate tables of logarithms and similar functions. But the second more ambitious ‘analytical engine’ could be programmed to perform many different computations, thus making him a pioneer of modern computers.

Colonel John Rouse Merriott Chard VC.

Born Boxhill Plymouth 21st December 1847 – 1st November 1897 was a British Army officer who received the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British armed forces. He earned the decoration for his role in the defence of Rorke's Drift in January 1879 where he commanded a small British garrison of 139 soldiers that successfully repulsed an assault by some 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The battle was recreated in the film Zulu in which Chard was portrayed by Stanley Baker.

CHARLES KINGSLEY.

Born in Ashburton, Devon. Born 1815. Died - 1875 - English writer. Educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Curate and then rector at Eversley, Hampshire. Novels Alton Locke (1850) and Yeast (1851) had enormous influence at the time. Christian Socialist. Involved in schemes at improving lives of the working classes. Wrote number of popular songs and ballads. Appointed canon of Westminster and chaplain to Queen Victoria.

CLIFF BASTIN.

Born in Exeter, Devon. Born 1912. Died 1991 – English footballer. Played 17 games for Exeter City before signing for Arsenal. Played 395 games for Arsenal scoring 178 goals. Made his debut for England in 1931 making a total of 21 appearances and scoring 12 goals.

DAVID OWEN.

Born in Plymouth, Devon. Born 1938 – English politician. Became Labour MP for Plympton Sutton in 1966 Held post of Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979. Resigned from Labour party in 1981. One of the founders of the Social Democratic Party. Led the SDP from 1983 to 1987 and the reformed SDP from 1988 to 1990.

EDWARD WOOD.

Born in Powderham Castle, Devon. Born 1881. Died 1959 - Conservative politician. Descendant of Charles Montagu, first Earl of Halifax. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford. Was MP for Ripon from 1910 to 1925. Was Foreign Secretary (1938-40) under Neville Chamberlain. Viceroy of India (1926-31) and Ambassador to the USA (1941-46). Created an earl in 1944.

FRANCIS DRAKE.

Born in Tavistock, Devon. Born 1540 Crowndale. Died 1596 At sea, off Panama - Naval Commander and explorer. An English navigator, started voyaging in 1565 to Guinea and the Spanish Main. In 1572 he became the first Englishman to see the Pacific Ocean, and in 1577 he set off on a major expedition, and was knighted on his arrival home for being the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world.

FRANCIS CHICHESTER.

Born in Barnstaple, Devon. 1901 - 1972 English adventurer & yachtsman Aviator and sailor, in 1960 he entered and won the first single-handed transatlantic yacht race, that he had co-founded, in the yacht Gipsy Moth III. In 1967 he was knighted for becoming the first person to sail single-handed around the world by the clipper route, and the fastest circumnavigator, in nine months and one day. Chichester published a number of books, including the autobiographies Solo to Sydney (1931), Alone Across the Atlantic (1961), The Lonely Sea and the Sky (1964), and Gipsy Moth Circles the World (1967).

FRANICS HAYMAN.

Born in Exeter, Devon. Born 1708. Died 1776 - English painter and illustrator. Began his career as a scene painter in London's Drury Lane theatres. Noted for the decoration of the boxes and pavilions at Vauxhall Gardens, London. Also painted portraits, landscapes and historical scenes. One of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

GUY BURGESS.

Born in Devonport, Devon.Born 1910. Died 1963 - British double agent. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge where he became a communist. Recruited as Soviet agent in 1930s. Worked for BBC, wrote war propaganda, worked for MI5 and Foreign Office. Recalled from Washington DC for misconduct he disappeared turning up in Russia in 1956.

JACK RUSSELL.

Born in Dartmouth, Devon. Born 1795. Died 1883 - Hunter, dog breeder and ordained minister.

JOHN CHURCHILL, Duke of Marlborough

Born: 24th June 1650 at Ashe, Devon
Duke of Marlborough
Died: 16th June 1722 at the Great Lodge, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire
An English soldier, he was first a page to the Duke of York (future James II), but soon progressed to Colonel. In 1685 he crushed the rebellion led by the Duke of Monmouth, and then defected to William of Orange and elevated to Earl of Marlborough. He went on to command British and Dutch forces in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14).

JOHN GAY.

Born in Barnstaple, Devon.1685 - 1732. Poet. Apprenticed to a silk mercer before turning to writing. First poem Wine was published in 1708. Dedicated his Rural Sports (1713) to Alexander Pope. Wrote Three Hours after Marriage (1717) with Pope and Arbuthnot. Best known for his Beggar’s Opera (1728). Buried in Westminster Abbey.

JOHN HAWKINS.

Born in Plymouth, Devon. Born 1532. Died 1595 - Navigator and naval commander. First Englishman to traffic slaves, taking them from West Africa to the Spanish West Indies. As controller of the navy he rebuilt older ships and helped design faster ships to withstand the Spanish Armada. Devised the naval blockade to intercept Spanish treasure ships. Knighted in 1588 for his services against the Armada.

MICHAEL FOOT.

Born in Plymouth, Devon. Born 1913 - English labour politician and journalist. Educated at Oxford. Editor and political columnist before becoming MP for Ebbw Vale (1960-83). Replaced James Callaghan as leader of the Labour Party in 1980. Skilled in parliamentary debate but heavy defeat to Margaret Thatcher in 1983 led to his replacement by Neil Kinnock. Supporter of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Books include a biography of Aneurin Bevan (1962,1973) and H G Wells (1995).

PETER COOK.

Born in Torquay, Devon. Born 1937. Died 1995 - English comedian and actor. Co-wrote and performed in the revue Beyond the Fringe (1960) and its sequel. Worked with Dudley Moore in the television programme Not Only….But Also (1965-71). Film appearances included The Wrong Box (1966), The Secret Policeman’s Ball (1979) and The Princess Bride (1987). Co-founder of the magazine Private Eye and The Establishment club in London.

R.S.HAWKER.

Born in Stoke Dameral, Plymouth, Devon Born 1803. Died 1875 - English poet. Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. Won the Newdigate Prize for poetry in 1827. Poetry includes Tendrils (1821), Reeds Shaken with the Wind (1843) and The Quest of the Sangraal (1864). Best known ballad is The Song of the Western Men. Converted to the Roman Catholic Church on his deathbed.

REDVERS BULLER.

Born in Crediton, Devon.Born 1839. Died 1908 - English general. Won the Victoria Cross for rescuing fellow soldiers during the Zulu War (1879). Fought in First and Second Boer Wars, raised the siege of Ladysmith (1900).

RICHARD BURTON.

Born in Torquay, Devon. Born 1821. Died 1890 - Trieste - English explorer, linguist and diplomat. Largely self-educated, won a place at Oxford. Spoke twenty-nine European, Asian, and African languages. Served in India under Sir Charles Napier. Known for his travels and explorations within Asia and Africa including travelling in disguise to Mecca. Explored the east coast of Africa and led an expedition which discovered Lake Tanganyika. Wrote numerous books including First Footsteps in East Africa (1851) and a translation of The Arabian Nights (1885-88). Knighted in 1886.

ROBERT FALCON SCOTT.

Born at Outlands in Devonport, Devon. Born 1868 to John and Hannah Scott. Died 1912 Antarctica - Captain Scott. English Antarctic explorer. A Royal Naval officer and the most famous and tragic hero of Antarctic exploration. In the race to the South Pole (1912) he came second, behind the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, then he and his four companions died while trying to return to base. In 1948 the film Scott of the Antarctic was released starring John Mills.

SAMUEL PHELPS.

Born in Devonport, Devon.Born 1804. Died 1878 - English actor and manager.

SAMUEL PROUT.

Born in Plymouth, Devon.Born 1783. Died 1852 - English watercolourist.

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

Born in OtterySt Mary, Devon.Died in Highgate, London Born 1772 Ottery St Mary. Died 1834 Highgate. Poet, Philosopher, and Critic. Studied at Cambridge 1791-1794. Published Poems on Various Subjects in 1796, and between 1797-1798 produced his most influential work such as Rime of the Ancient Manor, Kubla Khan, Lime Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight and The Nightingale. Together with William Wordsworth published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, the catalyst for the English Romantic Movement.

SIR DONALD SINDEN.

Born in Plymouth, Devon.Born 1923 - English actor. Performed comedies on tour to armed forces. Joined Shakespeare Memorial Theatre company in 1946. Played classical roles with RSC as well as comedy in the West End. Made numerous film and television appearances. Knighted in 1997.

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

Born in Plympton Earls, Devon.Born 1723. Died 1792 - English portrait painter. Studied in Rome before establishing himself in London. Founded the Literary Club in 1764, members included Dr Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Sheridan. Elected first president of Royal Academy in 1768. Knighted in 1769 and became painter to the king in1784. Best known for his portraits which include The Strawberry Girl, Simplicity, Commodore Keppel and Dr Samuel Johnson. Had to give up painting when his sight deteriorated. Buried in St Paul’s Catherdral.

THOMAS BODLEY.

Born in Exeter, Devon. Born 1545. Died 1613 - English scholar and diplomat. Protestant family forced to take refuge during reign of Mary I. Studied Greek, Hebrew and modern languages. Ambassador to Denmark, France and Holland during reign of Elizabeth I. Retired from court in 1587 and spent huge sums on university library. Renamed Bodleian and was opened in 1602. Knighted by James I in 1604.

THOMAS NEWCOMEN.

Born in Dartmouth, Devon.Born 1663. Died 1792 - English inventor.

WALTER RALEIGH.

Born in Woodbury, Devon.Died in Whitehall, London Born 1554 Hayes Barton. Died 1618 - English courtier, navigator & poet. An English courtier, navigator and poet, he became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I who heaped favours upon him. He was responsible for establishing the first English colony at Roanoke Island, North Carolina (1584), and for introducing potatoes and tobacco into Britain. In 1595 he explored the coasts of Trinidad, and sailed up the Orinoco, and in 1596 took part in the sack of Cadiz.

WILLIAM BLIGH.

Born in Plymouth, Devon.Died in London 1754 - 1817. Naval Officer and Captain of the Bounty. Went to sea at age 15. 1787 chosen by Joseph Banks to command Bounty on a voyage to Tahiti to collect breadfruit tree and introduce to West Indies. On return voyage Fletcher Christian led mutiny and he and 18 men were cast adrift. Travelled 4,000 miles and reached East Timor. Served under Admiral Nelson, Governor of New South Wales. Promoted to Admiral on retirement in 1811.

WILLIAM JESSOP.

Born in Devonport, Devon.Born 1745. Died 1814 - English civil engineer. Worked with John Smeaton on canals in Yorkshire and elsewhere. Co-founded the Butterley Iron Works in 1790, manufactured fish-bellied cast iron rails which marked great advance in railway track technology. Chief engineer on construction of Grand Junction Canal. Worked on the docks on the Avon and the Thames.

FAMOUS CORNISH PEOPLE.

ALFRED ROUSE.

Born in Tregonissey, Cornwall.Born 1903. Died 1997 - English historian. Won scholarship to Oxford. Historical works included Tudor Cornwall (1941) and The England of Elizabeth (1950). Also wrote poetry, biographies of Shakespeare and Marlowe, and two volumes of autobiography.

ARTHUR QUILLER COUCH.

Born in Bodmin, Cornwall.Born 1863. Died 1944 - English writer.

BOB FITZIMMONS.

Born in Helston, Cornwall. Born 1863. Died 1917 Chicago, Illinois –Boxer. Moved to New Zealand in his childhood. Began boxing professionally in 1883 in Australia. Was world champion over three divisions (middleweight, light-heavy weight and heavyweight). Became famous by defeating Gentleman Jim Corbett. Died of pneumonia, grave is in the Graceland cemetery.

EMILY HOBHOUSE

April 9th. 1860 – June 8th. 1926) was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the appalling conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Boer War.
Born in St Ive, near Liskeard in Cornwall, she was the daughter of an Anglican rector, and sister of Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse, the noted liberal socialist. Her mother died when she was 20, and she spent the next fourteen years looking after her father who was in poor health. When her father died in 1895 she went to Minnesota to perform welfare work amongst Cornish mineworkers living there, the trip having been organised by the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury. There she became engaged to John Carr Jackson and the couple bought a ranch in Mexico but this did not prosper and the engagement was broken off. She returned to England in 1898 after losing most of her money in a speculative venture.Emily Hobhouse died in London on 8th June, 1926.

GEORGE LLOYD.

Born in St Ives, Cornwall. Born 1913. Died 1998 - English conductor and composer.

GEOFFREY GRIGSON.

Born in Pelynt nr Looe, Cornwall.Born 1905. Died 1985 - Poet, critic and editor. Founder of the magazine New Verse (1933-39). Published Collected Poems (1963) and a further volume of verse written 1963 and 1982. Married to the cookery writer Jane Grigson.

HENRY BASTIAN.

Born in Truro, Cornwall.Born 1837. Died 1915 - English biologist. An English physiologist and neurologist, he graduated from London University in 1861, and became a Fellow of Royal Society in 1868. He was an advocate of the doctrine of abiogenesis, and his works include The Beginnings of Life (1872) and The Brain as an Organ of Mind (1880).

HUMPHREY DAVY.

Born in Penzance, Cornwall.Born 1778 Died 1829 Geneva. Chemist An esteemed British chemist and physicist, his lectures attracted many spectators. Well known for his experiments with the physiological action of some gases, especially nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to which he was addicted ! In 1801 he was nominated professor at the Royal Institution of Great Britain and Fellow of the Royal Society, and spent many years studying electrolysis and electrochemistry. In 1812 he was knighted, and in 1813 his book Elements of Agricultural Chemistry was published. He invented the Davy Lamp in 1815 which was used by miners.

JOHN ADAMS.

Born in Lidcot, Cornwall. Born 1819. Died 1892 - English astronomer. He graduated as Senior Wrangler and first Smith’s Prizeman (1843) at St John’s College, Cambridge, and was elected to a fellowship there. His most important achievement was predicting the exisitence and position of Neptune. The Adams Prize, presented by the University of Cambridge commemorates this achievement.

JOHN OPIE.

Born in St Agnes, Cornwall.Born 1761. Died 1807 - English portrait and historical painter.

Kristin Scott Thomas

Born in Redruth, Cornwall.Born 1960 - English actress. Began her career in French television and films. Became well known in English films including Four Weddings and A Funeral (1994), Mission Impossible (1996) and The English Patient (1996).

MICK FLEETWOOD.

Born in Redruth, Cornwall.Born 1947 - Musician. Drummer for the pop/rock band Fleetwood Mac. Their 1977 album Rumours is the 10th highest selling album of all time.

PETER LANYON.

Born in St Ives, Cornwall.Born 1918. Died 1964 - English painter.

RICHARD LANDER.

Born in Truro, Cornwall.Born 1803. Died 1834 - English explorer.

RICHARD LOWER.

Born in Bodmin, Cornwall.Born 1631. Died 1691 - English physician and physiologist.

RICHARD TREVITHICK.

Born in Redruth, Cornwall.Died in Dartford, Kent Born 1771 . Died 1833 - English engineer & inventor

SAPPER.

Born in Bodmin, Cornwall.Born 1888. Died 1937 - Novelist and short story writer.

SIDNEY GODOLPHIN.

Born in Helston, Cornwall.Born 1645. Died 1712 - English statesman. Entered Parliament in 1668 as member for Helston. Was created Baron Godolphin of Rialton in 1680 and became First Lord of the Treasury. After accession of James II he was named commissioner of the treasury in 1687. Made sole Lord High Treasurer by Queen Anne in 1702. Created Viscount Rialton and Earl of Godolphin in 1706. Dismissed from office in1710.

WILLIAM GOLDING.

Born in St Columb Minor, Cornwall.1911 - 1993 English novelist & Nobel Prize winner. After leaving Oxford University in 1934 his first book Poems was published, but it wasn’t until 1954 that his most famous novel The Lord of the Flies was published. Further novels include The Inheritors (1955), Pincher Martin (1956) and Free Fall (1959). He won the Booker Prize in 1980, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 for Rites of Passage, his first book of the Trilogy to the Ends of the Earth. He was knighted in 1988.


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