04 January 2010

A bit of self indulgent great Britons blogging for 2010

Back in 2002 the BBC conducted a poll to find who were considered the 100 greatest Britons .Winston Churchill was voted the greatest ever. This came as no big surprise. The other 99 were a mix of the truly great, the definitely worthy and the utterly spurious.

1. Winston Churchill, (1874-1965), Prime Minister (1940-1945, 1951–1955)
2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, (1806–1859), engineer, creator of Great Western Railway and other significant works
3. Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–1997), first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (1981–1996), and mother of Princes William and Harry of Wales
4. Charles Darwin (1809–1882), naturalist, originator of the theory of evolution through natural selection and author of On the Origin of Species.
5. William Shakespeare (1564–1616), English poet and playwright, thought of by many as the greatest of all writers.
6. Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727), physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist.
7. Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), monarch (reigned 1558-1603)
8. John Lennon (1940–1980), musician with The Beatles, philanthropist, peace activist, artist
9. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (1758–1805), naval commander
10. Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), Lord Protector
11. Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922), polar explorer
12. Captain James Cook (1728–1779), explorer
13. Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell (1857–1941), founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
14. Alfred the Great (849?–899), King of Wessex, (reigned 871–899)
15. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), military commander, statesman and Prime Minister 1828–1830 and 1834
16. Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (born 1925), Prime Minister (1979–1990) 17. Michael Crawford (born 1942), actor and singer
18. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819–1901), monarch (reigned 1837–1901)
19. Sir Paul McCartney (1942), musician with The Beatles, philanthropist, activist
20. Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955), biologist and pharmacologist, discoverer of penicillin
21. Alan Turing (1912–1954), pioneer of computing
22. Michael Faraday (1791–1867), scientist
23. Owain Glynd┼Ár (1359–1416), Prince of Wales
24. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (born 1926), reigning monarch (1952–present) 25. Professor Stephen Hawking (born 1942), theoretical physicist
26. William Tyndale (1494–1536), English translator of the Bible
27. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928), suffragette
28. William Wilberforce (1759–1833), humanitarian
29. David Bowie (born 1947), musician
30. Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), English revolutionary.
31. Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire (1917–1992), aviator and charity organiser
32. Eric Morecambe (1926–1984), comedian
33. David Beckham (born 1975), footballer
34. Thomas Paine (1737–1809), political philosopher
35. Boudica (died c.60), leader of Celtic resistance to the Roman Empire
36. Sir Steve Redgrave (born 1962), Olympic rower
37. Saint Thomas More (1478–1535), English saint, lawyer and politician
38. William Blake (1757–1827), author/poet, painter and printer
39. John Harrison (1693–1776), clock designer
40. King Henry VIII of England (1491–1547), monarch (reigned 1509–1547)
41. Charles Dickens (1812–1870), author
42. Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996), jet engine inventor
43. John Peel (1939–2004), broadcaster
44. John Logie Baird (1888–1946), television pioneer
45. Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960), Labour politician who oversaw the formation of the National Health Service
46. Boy George (born 1961), musician with Culture Club
47. Sir Douglas Bader (1910–1982), aviator and charity campaigner
48. Sir William Wallace (c.1270–1305), Guardian of Scotland
49. Sir Francis Drake (c.1540–1596), English naval commander
50. John Wesley (1703–1791), founder of Methodism
51. King Arthur, legendary Celtic monarch
52. Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), nurse and charity campaigner
53. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) (1888–1935), Arabist and soldier
54. Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912), polar explorer 55. Enoch Powell (1912–1998), politician
56. Sir Cliff Richard (born 1940), musician
57. Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922), telephone pioneer
58. Freddie Mercury (1946–1991), musician with Queen
59. Dame Julie Andrews (born 1935), actress and singer
60. Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934), composer 61. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900–2002), Queen consort 62. George Harrison (1943–2001), musician with The Beatles
63. Sir David Attenborough (born 1926), broadcaster
64. James Connolly (1868–1916), the Scottish born leader of the Irish 1916 rising
65. George Stephenson (1781–1848), railway pioneer
66. Sir Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), comic actor and film director
67. Tony Blair (born 1953), Prime Minister (1997–2007)
68. William Caxton (c.1415~1422–c.1492), English printer
69. Bobby Moore (1941–1993), footballer and Captain of England 1966 World Cup winning team
70. Jane Austen (1775–1817), author
71. William Booth (1829–1912), founder of Salvation Army
72. King Henry V of England (1387–1422), monarch (reigned 1413–1422)
73. Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), occultist, writer, and social provocateur; founder of Thelema
74. Robert the Bruce (1274–1329), King of Scots
75. Bob Geldof (born 1951), Irish musician, philanthropist
76. The Unknown Warrior, soldier of the Great War
77. Robbie Williams (born 1974), musician and former member of Take That
78. Edward Jenner (1749–1823), pioneer of vaccination
79. David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George (1863–1945), Prime Minister (1916–1922)
80. Charles Babbage (1791–1871), mathematician and pioneer of computing
81. Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343–1400), English author
82. King Richard III of England (1452–1485), monarch (reigned 1483–1485)
83. J.K. Rowling (born 1965), author of the Harry Potter Series
84. James Watt (1736–1819), developer of the steam engine
85. Sir Richard Branson (born 1950), businessman and adventurer 86. Bono (born 1960), Irish musician - Singer for Rock Band U2, philanthropist 87. John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) (born 1956), musician
88. Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887–1976), military commander
89. Donald Campbell (1921–1967), water speed world record challenger
90. King Henry II of England (1133–1189), monarch (reigned 1154–1189)
91. James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), physicist
92. J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), author and philologist
93. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618), English explorer
94. King Edward I of England (1239–1307), monarch (reigned 1272–1307)
95. Sir Barnes Wallis (1887–1979), aviation technology pioneer
96. Richard Burton (1925–1984), actor
97. Tony Benn (born 1925), politician, formerly the 2nd Viscount Stangate
98. David Livingstone (1813–1873), missionary and explorer
99. Sir Tim Berners-Lee (born 1955), Internet pioneer and inventor of the World Wide Web
100. Marie Stopes (1880–1958), promoter of birth control

And if the list were up to me? I'm not hugely patriotic in the sense of gratuitous flag waving and yearning for the Roast Beef of old England but I was born, raised and educated here. This is where I am from , despite a very un-British name and origins, and probably where I will stay (although I do fancy relocating to SW Ireland at some stage). Britain has a rich history which ha thrown up many great people (as well as many shameful incidents we would do well to stare in the face and learn from). Anyway I digress...

Personally I would have struck out anyone living. Most of them will never have any real claim to such a list anyway. I would also drop a lot of people I consider spurious. I know that I am being utterly subjective but this is my blog so it's my rules, however capricious! So here goes.

Diana goes because she was only famous for marrying an adulterous shit who will become our next monarch unless the Queen lives to 177 (Something I would not rule out!). The same basically goes for the Queen Mother, not that George VI was an adulterous shit...

Lennon, Harrison and McCartney go because I consider the Beatles hideously overrated. The same goes for Eric Morecambe, Freddie Mercury, Charlie Chaplin and Richard Burton for that matter... oh and JRR Tolkein (I hated LOTR)

Glydnwr, Fawkes, Wallace, Boudicca and Connolly go because they were failures. The same goes for Scott (Shackleton stays on the basis that he came home alive) and Richard III.

Peel just played records. I loved his show but then I loved Andy Pandy when I was four and wouldn't want to see Andy Pandy on the list.

Enoch Powell.. now where do I start!

Bader may have overcome great adversity but he was a nasty piece of work

King Arthur goes on the basis that he did not exist as such

Aleister Crowley was an excellent mountain climber but he was mainly a drug addled lout

The Unknown Warrior is a symbol who may have done great things in life for all we know.

This leaves 46 of the original 100

1. Winston Churchill, (1874-1965), Prime Minister (1940-1945, 1951–1955)
2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, (1806–1859), engineer, creator of Great Western Railway and other significant works
4. Charles Darwin (1809–1882), naturalist, originator of the theory of evolution through natural selection and author of On the Origin of Species.
5. William Shakespeare (1564–1616), English poet and playwright, thought of by many as the greatest of all writers.
6. Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727), physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist.
7. Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), monarch (reigned 1558-1603)
9. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (1758–1805), naval commander
10. Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), Lord Protector
11. Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922), polar explorer
12. Captain James Cook (1728–1779), explorer
13. Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell (1857–1941), founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
14. Alfred the Great (849?–899), King of Wessex, (reigned 871–899)
15. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), military commander, statesman and Prime Minister 1828–1830 and 1834
18. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819–1901), monarch (reigned 1837–1901)
20. Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955), biologist and pharmacologist, discoverer of penicillin
21. Alan Turing (1912–1954), pioneer of computing
22. Michael Faraday (1791–1867), scientist
26. William Tyndale (1494–1536), English translator of the Bible
27. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928), suffragette
28. William Wilberforce (1759–1833), humanitarian
31. Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire (1917–1992), aviator and charity organiser
34. Thomas Paine (1737–1809), political philosopher
37. Saint Thomas More (1478–1535), English saint, lawyer and politician
38. William Blake (1757–1827), author/poet, painter and printer
39. John Harrison (1693–1776), clock designer
40. King Henry VIII of England (1491–1547), monarch (reigned 1509–1547)
41. Charles Dickens (1812–1870), author
42. Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996), jet engine inventor
44. John Logie Baird (1888–1946), television pioneer
45. Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960), Labour politician who oversaw the formation of the National Health Service
49. Sir Francis Drake (c.1540–1596), English naval commander
50. John Wesley (1703–1791), founder of Methodism
52. Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), nurse and charity campaigner
53. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) (1888–1935), Arabist and soldier
57. Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922), telephone pioneer
65. George Stephenson (1781–1848), railway pioneer
68. William Caxton (c.1415~1422–c.1492), English printer
69. Bobby Moore (1941–1993), footballer and Captain of England 1966 World Cup winning team
70. Jane Austen (1775–1817), author
71. William Booth (1829–1912), founder of Salvation Army
72. King Henry V of England (1387–1422), monarch (reigned 1413–1422)
74. Robert the Bruce (1274–1329), King of Scots
78. Edward Jenner (1749–1823), pioneer of vaccination
79. David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George (1863–1945), Prime Minister (1916–1922)
80. Charles Babbage (1791–1871), mathematician and pioneer of computing
81. Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343–1400), English author
84. James Watt (1736–1819), developer of the steam engine
88. Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887–1976), military commander
89. Donald Campbell (1921–1967), water speed world record challenger
90. King Henry II of England (1133–1189), monarch (reigned 1154–1189)
91. James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), physicist
93. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618), English explorer
94. King Edward I of England (1239–1307), monarch (reigned 1272–1307)
95. Sir Barnes Wallis (1887–1979), aviation technology pioneer
98. David Livingstone (1813–1873), missionary and explorer
100. Marie Stopes (1880–1958), promoter of birth control

So who to add to bring the list back to 100?

Interestingly there are relatively few military figure on the list despite a highly imperialist and expansionist past...

To start things off there are a number of other military figures that deserve to make the list. among the great Britons, Here are a few who have a claim.

Robert Blake, the Cromwellian naval commander
John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough
Thomas Cochrane, the 10th earl of Dundonald
Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood
Field Marshall William Slim

I will do posts later on as to why I think they deserve such an accolade

I know it's self indulgent but this is one of the things I plan to play with off and on over 2010. I would be interested who my readers would add to a list of great Britons, or Canadians, Germans, Romanians, Americans or wherever you are from!

14 comments:

CherryPie said...

Hmm! this gives me something to ponder about also.

There are quite a few I would say no to straight away!

Kay Dennison said...

To get an accurate list, one would need a strict criteria. In this country, Jackie Kennedy and assorted sports figurea would probably make the list.

I mostly agree that the ones you eliminated should have been.

Claudia said...

Nothing against the great Scottish people but Canada claims Alexander Graham Bell, as he moved to Canada at 23, and used the phone for the first time in Brantford, Ontario. The good Canadian air inspired him, also kept him alive. He was a sickly youngster in his native Scotland.

I don't seem to see Christopher Wren on the list. I just saw a documentary on St-Paul. The triple dome was pure genius.

Claudia said...

If you want to move to Canada, to invent something, we'll welcome you with open arms. And good fresh air...

How about McGonagall on the list, Jams?

jams o donnell said...

A lot of the choices were pretty spurious weren't they Cherie!

I know what you mean Kay. THat said a few of the ones I eliminated for being alive will makes it onto the list

He was number 9 on teh greatest canadians list I gather Clausdia. Wren is definitely one for the list. William Topaz... well who knows!

ModernityBlog said...

Where's Clem Attlee? or Nye Bevan?

The architects of the modern welfare state and the NHS, they deserve better.

Their work has helped millions and millions

jams o donnell said...

I thought Nye was on teh lsit. Clament Attlee is someone I would certainly add to the list

Anya said...

Thanks for the English History
i learn alot here ;)

(@^.^@)

Hug for Boris from Kareltje =^.^=

jams o donnell said...

Glad to be of service Anya

Liz said...

I would have to keep The Beatles, sorry, jams, but as one unit.

Because of their great moosig (my word verifier!)

jams o donnell said...

Even Ringo Liz????

SnoopyTheGoon said...

How about P G Wodehouse, Peter Sellers and John Cleese?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, and of course, John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich!

jams o donnell said...

Excellent choice all Snoopy!