Some of these Famous Lincolnshire people may be more fairly described as "infamous", or even "notorious"....

We are all people of our time with our strengths, weaknesses, opinions and selective vision. What once seemed an acceptable idea can on retrospect prove a bad mistake, even a major crime.
British imperialism would have seemed laudable to some on this list, including trading of slaves, transporting convicts, expanding commercial agriculture across the world and exploiting natural resources at the expense of indigenous cultures and the environment.
Lincolnshire had its own domestic issues, such as land drainage and enclosure, that drove many local people to migrate to cities, or try a life at sea, in the army, or in the emerging colonies.
I will leave it to the reader to see the good in the lives of the people listed here, to understand the perceptions and expectations of their times, and where justified to be critical of some of their actions and attitudes. Let us hope we shall not be considered similarly flawed by future generations.
Henry Andrews Laurance Eusden George Herbert Thomas Pennant
Joseph Banks Matthew Flinders Herbert Ingram Sir Wiliam Robertson
George Bass Michael Foale Maurice Johnson Samuel Roberts
George Boole Richard Fox Martin Lister Charlotte Angas Scott
Thomas Boor Crosby John Foxe William Marwood John Smith
Francis Dashwood John Franklin Isaac Newton William Stukeley
John Dee Robert Grosseteste Thomas Paine Alfred Lord Tennyson
John Dyer John Harrison William Paley Hereward the Wake
  Thomas Little Heath Barnes Wallis Francis Willis
Henry Andrews
1743 – 1820
Astronomer. Calculator for Nautical Almanack and "Moore's".
Born: Frieston, near Grantham ... err, not Freiston near Boston! Sorry!
Would anyone like to write me something about him?
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Sir Joseph Banks
1743 – 1820
Explorer, Naturalist. President of The Royal Society.
Resident of Revesby Abbey, near Skegness.
I have encountered Banks' influence as a biologist and agriculturist; in the Caribbean, Iceland, South Pacific and West Africa; at the Natural History Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Lincoln Cathedral and in The Fens, where he was a driving force in drainage projects and the straightening of the River Witham. Sir Joseph was elected President of the Royal Society in 1778. His estate at Revesby is said to contain some rare specimens which may owe their discovery to Banks. He was very influential in Lincolnshire, being involved, among other things, with schemes for the Horncastle and Sleaford Navigations. His town house in Horncastle now hosts a row of shops!
Banks asked that his burial should be in the most private manner in the church or churchyard of the parish in which he happened to die, that his relatives should "spare themselves the affliction of attending the ceremony" and he earnestly requested "that they will not erect any monument to my memory."
With this in mind, further comment is limited to the following links.
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George Bass
1771 – 1803
Explorer, naval surgeon and naturalist.
Born: Aswarby, Lincolnshire.
Apart from the memorial in Boston, and a church window or two, there&aposs very little about him locally.
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George Boole
1815 – 1864
Mathematician and Philosopher.
Born: Lincoln, Lincolnshire.
Today, George Boole is rightly regarded as one of the founding fathers of computing and information technology. George Boole is the unsung hero of the Information Revolution. It was his genius that set the scene for all the technological innovation that we take for granted today, from digital recordings and television through to the Internet itself. Eileen Harrison's article sets the record straight.
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Sir Thomas Boor Crosby
1830 – 1916
Born: Gosberton.
Lord Mayor of London 1911.
He was responsible for setting up the Titanic Trust which raised funds for the survivors and relatives.
He came from Gosberton and was also a well respected Doctor.
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Sir Francis Dashwood
1708 – 1781
15th Baron Le Despencer.
Chancellor of the Exchequer; founder of the Hell-fire Club.
Resident of Dunston Heath near Lincoln.
Would anyone like to write me something on his life in Lincolnshire?
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Dr John Dee
1527 – 1608
Mathematician and Alchemist.
Rector of Long Leadenham in Lincolnshire, 1566–to end of life.
Free-lance advisor to the Crown on astrological events, and also on calendar reform. He wrote the Perfect Arte of Navigation, developed what he called the paradoxal compass and/or paradoxal chart, and was reputed to be the central figure in the development of scientific cartography in England.
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Rev John Dyer
1700 – 1757
Held the livings of Calthorp in Leicestershire, Belchford (1751), Coningsby (1752), and Kirby-on-Bain (1756).
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Rev Laurance Eusden
1688 – 1730
Poet Laureate of England, rector of St Michael & All Angels Church in Coningsby.
Born: Spofforth, North Yorkshire.
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Matthew Flinders
1774 – 1814
English navigator.
Born: Donington, Lincolnshire.
Appointed a naval officer in Australia, he undertook to explore this great unknown continent and in particular to sail round it. From 1795 to 1799 he explored the coast south of Port Jackson and circumnavigated Tasmania. Between Australia and Tasmania he discovered a previously unknown strait and called it Bass Strait after his companion, George Bass. In 1801 in recognition of his merit, the Admiralty put him in command of the Investigator which was to undertake the exploration of the Australian coasts.
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Dr Michael Foale CBE
NASA Astronaut.
Born: January 6, 1957, in Louth.
The most recent addition to this list, Foale can trace the foundations of his career to many of his predecessors listed here! Michael Foale received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside [17th July 2000] and was awarded the CBE in the New Year Honours List, January 2005.
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Bishop Richard Fox
1448 – 1528
Bishop of Winchester and Henry VII's "Right-hand Man".
Born: Ropsley, Lincolnshire.
Thanks to Marion Ellis for this suggestion.
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John Foxe
1516 – 1587
Writer of the famous Book of Martyrs.
Born: Boston, Lincolnshire.
  • John Foxe – Thanks to John Bird for this suggestion.
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Sir John Franklin
1786 – 1847
English rear-admiral and explorer.
Born: Spilsby, Lincolnshire.
After accompanying Flinders on his voyages along the Australian coasts, he distinguished himself at Trafalgar in 1805 and was wounded at the battle of New Orleans in the war with the United States (1812–1815). In 1818 he began his career as an explorer with a search for the North-East Passage to the north of Spitsbergen, Greenland.
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Bishop Robert Grosseteste
c.1168 – 1253
Bishop of Lincoln.
One of the most learned men of the Middle Ages.
Grosseteste worked on geometry, optics and astronomy. In optics he experimented with mirrors and with lenses. He believed that experimentation must be used to verify a theory by testing its consequences.
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John Harrison
1642 – 1727
Lincolnshire's inventor of the chronometer in 1759.
Without accurate measurement of time, navigators found the calculation of longitude impossible.The measurement of Longitude was made possible by the development of an accurate maritime chronometer by the Lincolnshire-based watchmaker, John Harrison of Barrow on Humber, 1693–1776.
  • John Harrison - (1693–1776) – an original essay by Heather and Mervyn Hobden, authors of John Harrison and the Problem of Longitude, published by The Cosmic Elk, ISBN 1 871443 28 3 (7th edition) price £10. [On sale at Jews Court, Steep Hill, Lincoln]
  • The Website of the Royal Observatory. In Lincolnshire, the Greenwich Meridian runs through Holbeach, Boston, Louth and Cleethorpes, passing through Snipe Dales nature reserve near Spilsby.
Sir Thomas Little Heath
1861 – 1940
Born: 5th October. Barnetby le Wold, Lincoln, England.
Died: 16th March. Ashtead, Surrey, England.
George Herbert
1593 – 1633
Poet and Theologian.
On July 5th, 1626 installed (by proxy!) as a Canon of Lincoln Cathedral with the prebend of Leighton Ecclesia.
"The itch of disputing is the scab of the church."
Herbert Ingram
1811 – 1860
Newspaper proprietor and politician.
Born: Boston.
Maurice Johnson
1688 – 1755
Born: Ayscoughfee Hall, Spalding.
Martin Lister FRS
1639 – 1712
Physician, naturalist and friend of John Ray.
Sometime of Burwell near Louth.
  • Martin Lister – A short essay written for this website by John Redshaw.
William Marwood
1820 – 1883
Church Lane, Horncastle.
Sir Isaac Newton
1642 – 1727
Born: Woolsthorpe Manor, near Colsterworth.
It was here, while staying to escape the plague of 1665 in Cambridge, that he carried out his ground-breaking work on the laws of gravity, differential calculus, and the refraction of light.
Thomas Paine
1737 – 1809
Revolutionary and journalist.
Apprentice in Grantham 1762, Exciseman in Alford 8th August 1764 to 29th August 1765!
Thomas Paine, professional revolutionary, was one of the first to use media as a powerful weapon against an entrenched array of monarchies, feudal lords, dictators, and repressive social structures. He invented contemporary political journalism, creating almost by himself a mass reading-public aware for the first time of its right to encounter controversial opinions and to participate in politics.
William Paley
c.1743 – 1805
Subdean of Lincoln.
English theologian, born Peterborough 1743; died Lincoln May 25, 1805.
He was given the subdeanery of Lincoln in 1795 and transferred his residence to Lincoln shortly before his death. His "Divine Watchmaker" concept of a complex, perfected organism dropping suddenly amidst foreign surroundings, stimulated the counter hypotheses of natural selection, adaptation to environment and the theory of evolution as a whole.
Thomas Pennant
1726 – 1798
Welsh naturalist and antiquary.
Elected a member of Spalding Gentlemens' Society in 1768.
Information provided by John Redshaw with help from David Robinson.
Pennant was 41 (nearly 42) and already an FRS when he was elected a member of SGS. Banks, incidentally was elected a member at the same meeting. Banks and Pennant were both, separately, in Scotland in 1767. They were both in London at the time of their election, but they were at Revesby for a fortnight in May 1768 (not 1769) and that was when they visited The Deeps in the East Fen and recorded a wonderful variety of birds.
John Redshaw adds: I have checked The Nat Hist of Selbourne. Pennant visited Revesby again in 1769 (probably staying with Banks' sister) and during his stay shot a warbler that Gilbert White subsequently identifed as a sedge warbler. It is now accepted, at SGS, that Joseph Banks, Esq, in 1768 was the same as the later Sir Joseph Banks.
Samuel Roberts
1827 – 1913
Born: 15th December. Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England.
Died: London, England.
Sir William Robert Robertson
1860 – 1933
Field Marshall. 1st Baronet of Beaconsfield.
Born Welboun, Lincolnshire.
Memorial in Lincoln Cathedral.
The only man to rise From Private to Field Marshall and not to be confused with the Scot of the same name.
The school at Leadenham is named after him.
Charlotte Angas Scott
1858 – 1931
Born: 8th June. Lincoln, Lincolnshire.
Died: 10th November. Cambridge, England.
Miss Scott was a geometer who whenever possible brought to analytical geometry the full resources of pure geometrical reasoning. Scott continued research at Girton on algebraic geometry under Cayley's supervision receiving her doctorate in 1885. In this year Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, United States opened. On Cayley's recommendation Scott was appointed there and became the first head of their mathematics department.
John Smith
1579 – 1631
English navigator and colonizer.
Born: Willoughby, Lincolnshire.
He made three expeditions to Virginia, founded Jamestown which became the chief town of the colony and had numerous encounters with the Indians. In one of these he was taken prisoner and would have been killed but for the intervention of Pocahontas, the daughter of a tribal chief. In 1608 he led expeditions up the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers and explored the Chesapeake Bay. In 1614 he was the man who named "New England". He became a legendary figure through his many adventures.
William Stukeley
1687 – 1765
Born: Holbeach, Lincolnshire.
Stukeley gave modern archaeologists the first written understanding of the true use of Stonehenge when he plotted key points of reference indicating the summer and winter solstice, as well as other key markers.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
1809 – 1883
Poet, Theologian, and rather less well known as an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. [Information from Paul Money, Sept 2010].
Born in Lincolnshire.
A statue of Tennyson stands to the northeast of Lincoln Cathedral adjacent to the Chapter House and Medieval Library.
Hereward the Wake
Anti-Norman dissident, freedom fighter and hero!
11th Century.
  • Hereward the Wake – The real Hereward (as recorded in Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) seems to have been a south-Lincolnshire squire, holding lands from the abbeys of Crowland and Peterborough.
  • Hereward the Wake – on English Monarchs website.
  • Open Domesday – The first free online copy of Domesday Book.
Sir Barnes Wallis
1809 – 1883.
Inventor, designer and engineer.
Linked to the county through his work for 617 Squadron.
Francis Willis (physician)
1809 – 1883
Physician. Pioneer in the treatment of psychiatric conditions.
Physician to King George III.
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