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Do you have information on notable people from North Yorkshire?
Yes, some notable men and women with connections to North Yorkshire are listed on this page.
The subjects of the following biographical notes lived during the reign of Queen Victoria. Some are known internationally and others should perhaps be better known than they are.
George Birkbeck (1776 - 1841), physician and philanthropist
Dr George Birkbeck belonged to a Quaker family established in Settle. He was educated at Sedbergh and Edinburgh University and became Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at the Anderson Institution in Glasgow. While there he struck new ground by organising free classes for workers. These classes became the forerunners of the Mechanics' Institutes, a major element in the growth of nineteenth century working class education.
After moving to a medical practice in London, Birkbeck was involved in many scientific and philanthropic societies, from meteorology to the abolition of boy chimney sweeps. He raised money for the formation of the London Mechanics' Institution in 1823 and laid the foundation stone of the lecture theatre.
Birkbeck's name has been given to Birkbeck College in London, the direct descendant of the London Mechanics' Institution.
Samson Fox (1838 - 1903), engineer, inventor and industrialist
At the age of nine, Samson Fox started work in a textile mill beside his father. He later studied engineering and tool design in Leeds. He formed the Leeds Forge Company and went on to be an internationally renowned engineer, inventor and ironmaster. He conceived the original corrugated boiler flue, patented in 1877, for high-pressure marine boilers, enabling steamships to travel faster and further than formerly. Ships such as the SS Pretoria were able in 1879 to transport British troops to the Anglo-Zulu War in an unprecedented 24 and a half days.
Between 1888 and 1889, Fox expanded his business by setting up the Fox Solid Pressed Steel Company in Joliot, south-west of Chicago, forging railway bogies and freightcars as well as trucks for the American market.
The industrialist had bought Grove House and estate in Harrogate in 1850. He was instrumental in setting up the first fire service in Harrogate and in supplying public street lighting. In 1870 he supported the building of the new Royal College of Music in London. The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the college in 1890 with a ceremonial trowel made from the metal of the corrugated boiler flues of the troopship Pretoria. Fox himself served as Mayor of Harrogate for three successive years (1890 - 1892).
Samson Fox died in October 1903, while campaigning as a prospective parliamentary candidate for Walsall.
William Grainge (1818 - 1895), local historian, antiquarian and poet
William Grainge was born into a farming family living at Castiles Farm, Kirkby Malzeard. He left school when he was 12 in order to work on the farm. On the death of his father in 1845 he moved to Boroughbridge as a clerk in a solicitor's office, remaining there for the next 15 years studying and writing. In 1853 his first work, "History of the towns of Aldborough and Boroughbridge", was published.
Later in 1860 Grainge moved to Harrogate and set up as a bookseller and stationer. In the next year he published his "Guide to Harrogate" and his "History of Knaresborough" followed in 1862. He died in 1895. This self-educated antiquary wrote numerous books on history and topography.
Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (1828 - 1913), surgeon and pathologist
Jonathan Hutchinson was born into a Selby Quaker family in the Red House on the Quay. He became a distinguished surgeon and pathologist, known for his work on ophthalmology and dermatology, leprosy and congenital syphilis. He identified sarcoidosis, originally called "Hutchinson's disease". A blue plaque on his house in Wigmore Street, London, commemorates his life as a 'surgeon, scientist and teacher'. He was knighted in 1908.
In Selby he founded an educational museum at the Public Rooms, now the Salvation Army Hall, in which lectures, such as one on Darwin's controversial theory of evolution, could take place. The museum exhibits covered the natural sciences as well as history and included a stuffed tiger and an Egyptian mummy.
Richard (1862 - 1928) and Cherry Kearton (1871 - 1940), naturalists
The brothers were brought up in Thwaite in Swaledale. Both worked for a time in the same London publishing house, but their interest in natural history was too strong and they left to become full-time naturalists. Richard popularised his passion for ornithology by writing and giving public lectures on the subject. Cherry became a wildlife photographer, using his photographs to illustrate his brother's books. Their first collaborative work, "British Birds' Nests", was published in 1895. They tried to record birdsong and were pioneers of bird photography.
Cherry later became the first person to make an aerial photographic record of London, taking his views from an airship. He also photographed and described the wildlife of Africa on the Serengeti and in the Congo, both in still photographs and in early films such as "Wild Life across Africa", "In the Land of the Lion" and "My Dog Simba".
Louisa Kruckenberg (1885 - 1958), photographer
Louisa Kruckenberg was a talented amateur photographer, born in Grewelthorpe where her father was the vicar. After the family moved to the living of Dunsforth, she created a valuable collection of photographic views, showing the lives of the farming people and the landscape of her father's parish. The collection is now held at Harrogate library.
Sir Clements Robert Markham (1830 - 1916), explorer and geographic historian
Born at Stillingfleet, Clements Markham is known for his promotion of Antarctic exploration. After serving in the navy from the age of 14, he sailed as a midshipman on the Franklin Search expedition of 1850-1851. He entered the Civil Service, and was for ten years responsible for the geographical work of the India Office. During this period, he sailed with the 1875 Arctic expedition of GS Nares.
He was elected president of both the Hakluyt Society and of the Royal Geographical Society and appointed Captain Robert Scott to lead the successful 1901 Antarctic expedition. He was a tireless author and editor of geographic and historical works. A scrapbook of photographs, watercolours, cuttings and postcards compiled by him on the 1901 Antarctic Expedition was recently auctioned at Christies.
William Oldfield of Skipton (1807 - 1870), optician and photographer
William Oldfield began work as a handloom weaver, but through his interest in mechanics he embarked on a career as an optician with a remarkable concern for astronomy. He was noted as a maker of astronomical telescopes and was the first person in England to view the Kluikerfue comet in 1857 only ten days after it was first discovered.
Oldfield was a pioneer photographer with a studio in Skipton High Street, and also a founder of the Mechanics' Institute in Skipton.
Dorothy Pattison, aka "Sister Dora" (1832 - 1878), nurse
A bronze statue of Sister Dora stands today in Walsall to the memory of Walsall's Good Samaritan, one of the first civilian nurses of the Victorian age. Dorothy Pattison was born in Hauxwell in lower Wensleydale and began her nursing training at North Ormesby hospital. She was associated with the Christ Church Sisters, an Anglican convent at Coatham, near Middlesbrough. She adopted the name Sister Dora and went to Walsall in 1865. Her dedication at the Pelsall Colliery disaster of 1872 and her willingness to nurse smallpox victims on her own in the Epidemic Hospital was a fine example to others. She helped to promote the status of nursing as a profession.
Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964), author and poet
Edith Sitwell was born in Scarborough, where her family spent every autumn and winter. She was privately educated and, like her brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, became an intellectual and a writer of poetry, biography and literary criticism, well known for her unusual appearance and wit. When she was very young, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She replied, "A genius".
Edith Sitwell published her first book of poems during the First World War. Collections of her work include "Clowns' Houses", "Rustic Elegies", "Gold Coast Customs", "Gardeners and Astronomers" and "The Outcasts". In 1954 she was made a dame of the British Empire.