We request a panel of specialists – all leading female researchers or science chroniclers – to vote for the ten women in British background who have had actually the most affect on science to storage the Society’s 350th anniversary in 2010. The panel comprised Professors Lorna Casselton, Athene Donald, Uta Frith and also Julia Higgins, all Fellows the the imperial Society, and Dr Patricia Fara, one eminent historian of science.

You are watching: 18th century british scientists


Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)

Caroline Herschel was born in 1750 in Hannover, Germany, but moved come England through her brother, the astronomer william Herschel, in 1772. She became William’s basic assistant and also helped him by composing down his observations and also helping him produce reflective telescopes. Caroline populated herself with huge theory and also mastered algebra and formulae for calculation and conversion together a basis because that observing the stars and managing huge distances. Caroline joined she brother when he to be appointed royal astronomer at the court at Windsor and served him as his scientific assistant. This provided her a salary of 50 pounds every year, the very first salary that a mrs had ever received for scientific work. In between 1786 and also 1797 she uncovered eight comets, as well as discovering fourteen nebulae, started a catalogue because that star clusters and also nebulae patches, and also compiled a supplemental catalogue come Flamsteeds Atlas which contained 561 stars through a substantial index.

Caroline returned to Hanover after she brother’s death where the world’s most vital scientists sought her expertise. She was awarded plenty of honours, gift awarded the 1828 gold medal that the Royal huge Society, of i beg your pardon she became an honorary member in 1835. In ~ the age of 96 she to be awarded the yellow medal the the Prussian Academy of scientific researches in 1846.

Mary Somerville (1780-1872)

Mary Somerville"s an initial scientific investigations began in the summer the 1825, when she lugged out experiment on magnetism. In 1826 she gift her paper entitled "The Magnetic properties of the Violet light ray of the Solar Spectrum" to the royal Society. The document attracted favorable notice and, as well as the expensive observations that Caroline Herschel, was the first record by a mrs to be read to the Royal culture and published in its philosophical Transactions.

In 1827 mr Brougham, on instead of of the society for the Diffusion of helpful Knowledge, started correspondence v Mary, to persuade her to compose a popularized rendition of Laplace"s Mecanique Céleste and Newton"s Principia. That hoped that she might reach a larger audience by connecting the concepts plainly through basic illustrations and experiments that most world could understand. Unsure of her qualifications, Mary embarked on the project in secrecy, assured that, if she need to fail, the manuscript would be destroyed and also only those immediately associated would ever before need to know. The system of the Heavens to be a an excellent success, probably the most famed of her mathematical writings. In recognition, a portrait bust of her was commissioned by she admirers in the royal Society.

While in Europe in 1832-1833, she greatly completed her 2nd book, i m sorry was released in 1834. V The connection of the physical Sciences, which to be an account of physical phenomena and the connections amongst the physics sciences, came brand-new scientific distinctions. She and also Caroline Herschel were chosen to the imperial Astronomical society in 1835, the first women to get such an honour.

In 1848, at the age of sixty eight, Mary released yet another book. Physical location proved to be her many successful job-related yet and also was widely used in schools and universities because that the next fifty years.

Her last scientific book, Molecular and Microscopic science was published in 1869, once Mary was eighty-nine.

Mary Anning (1799-1847)

Fossil skull and also jaws of the Proteosaurus (Ichthyosaur) © The imperial Society

Mary Anning was very early British fossil collector and also paleontologist. She spent her life functioning in Lyme Regis. Her ability in locating and preparing fossils, and the wealth of the Jurassic era marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis, resulted in her make a variety of important finds. These consisted of the skeleton that the first ichthyosaur to it is in recognised and the an initial two plesiosaur skeletons ever before found, the an initial pterosaur skeleton discovered outside that Germany, and some necessary fossil fish. Her observations also played a key role in the discovery that coprolites, recognized as bezoar stones at the time, were fossilized faeces.

Anning"s gender and also social class prevented she from fully participating in the scientific community of at an early stage 19th century Britain, and also she walk not always receive complete credit for her contributions. Regardless of this she became well known in geological one in Britain and also beyond, back she struggled financially for much of she life. After her death her enormous contribution come paleontology was mostly forgotten.

Women"s agricultural Times report from the an initial annual meeting (1899) of the Lady Warwick agricultural Association because that Women, containing a resolution stating the qualified women need to be standard for choice to learned societies. Catalogue reference: CD/95/1

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917)

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson to be a pioneering physician and political campaigner. She was the an initial Englishwoman come qualify together a doctor.

Female doctors were unheard that in 19th century Britain and her make the efforts to study at a variety of medical institutions were denied. In 1865 she happen the culture of Apothecaries examinations and gained a certificate which enabled her to come to be a doctor. The culture then adjusted its rule to prevent various other women beginning the job this way.

In 1866 she established a dispensary for women in London and in 1870 was made a visiting doctor to the east London Hospital. Despite obtaining a medical degree from the university of Paris, the British medical Register refuse to recognise her qualification. In 1872, Anderson started the brand-new Hospital for ladies in London (later change the name after that is founder), staffed completely by women.

Anderson"s determination led the way for various other women, and also in 1876 one act was passed permitting ladies to get in the clinical professions. In 1883, Anderson to be appointed dean of the London school of medicine for Women, i beg your pardon she had helped to found in 1874, and oversaw that expansion.

In 1902, Anderson retired to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. In 1908, she became the market of the town, the an initial female market in England. She was also a member that the suffragette movement and also her daughter Louisa was a prominent suffragette.

Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923)

Portrait of Herta Ayrton by unknown engraver after ~ James Russell and also Sons, 1906 ©The royal Society

Hertha Ayrton (née Marks) attended Girton College, Cambridge college where she studied Mathematics and also received a B.Sc. Level from the college of London.

After university she worked as a private math tutor for a time. She began her clinical studies through attending class in physics in ~ Finsbury technological College provided by Professor wilhelm Ayrton, who she married in 1885.

Ayrton helped her husband v his experiments in physics and also electricity, ending up being an experienced on the topic of the electrical arc and also published several documents from her very own research in the Proceedings the the Royal society of London and also The Electrician. She published her widely acclaimed occupational The electric Arc in 1902.

Ayrton was chosen the very first female member that the school of electrical Engineers in 1899. In 1902 she became the very first woman nominated a fellow of the Royal society of London, although because she to be married she can not be chosen to this distinction.

In 1904 Ayrton ended up being the an initial woman to read her own paper before the Royal society on ‘The origin and also growth the ripple-mark’. She received the royal Society’s Hughes Medal for her investigations in 1906.

Kathleen Lonsdale FRS(1903-1971)

Portrait of catalen Lonsdale by Walter Stoneman ©Godfrey Argent Studio

Kathleen Lonsdale was very early pioneer of X-ray crystallography, a field primarily involved with studying the shapes of organic and also inorganic molecules.

In 1945, Lonsdale to be the an initial woman, together with microbiologist Marjory Stephenson, admitted as a other to the royal Society. She was the very first female professor at college College, London, the very first woman named president that the international Union the Crystallography, and the first woman to hold the write-up of president of the brothers Association for the advancement of Science. She embraced her achievements as a pioneering woman scientist through characteristic humility. In 1966, the "lonsdaleite, " a rare type of meteoric diamond, was called for her.

Lonsdale was born January 28, 1903 in Newbridge, Ireland, yet grew increase in England and won a scholarship to attend County High school for girls in Ilford. At the period of 16, she enrolled in Bedford university for ladies in London, whereby in 1922 she obtained a B.S. In mathematics and physics. Wilhelm Henry Bragg, the 1915 Nobel Laureate in Physics, was so impressed with her scholastic performance the he invite her to job-related with him and a team of researchers using X-ray an innovation to explore the crystal structure of necessary compounds. Londsdale operated with Bragg intermittently until his fatality in 1942.

Lonsdale and also her husband, cutting board Jackson Lonsdale to be committed pacifists. They worked toward world peace, and also prison reform. During people War II, she and her husband provided shelter come refugees, and also in 1943 Lonsdale spent a month in jail for refusing to register for war duties and also then refusing to pay a good of 2 pounds. In 1956, she composed a publication in reaction to extensive nuclear experimentation by the joined States, the Soviet Union, and great Britain licensed has been granted Is peace Possible?

In 1956, Lonsdale was called a Dame commander of the order of the brothers Empire, and also in 1957 she got the Davy Medal of the royal Society. In 1966, she became the an initial female chairman of the international Union the Crystallography, and also in 1968 the very first woman to host the post of chairman of the british Association because that the breakthrough of Science.

Elsie Widdowson FRS (1908-2000)

Portrait the Elsie Widdowson through unknown artist ©The imperial Society

Elsie Widdowson grew up during the an initial World battle in London. She learned Chemistry at imperial College London and took the BSc check after two years. Together a graduate she operated with Helen Archbold (later Helen Porter FRS) that steered her into one the the most remarkable scientific careers the the century. She take it doctorates at royal College and at the Courtauld institute of Biochemistry, coming to be a fellow of the Royal culture in 1976 and also in 1993 a Companion that Honour.

Widdowson specialty in the scientific evaluation of food, nutrition and the relationship in between diet before and also after birth and also its effects on development. She entered into a 60-year partnership through Professor RA McCance in 1933. Your joint recognition that contemporary nutritional tables were considerably wrong cemented a highly creative partnership, which revolutionised the way the world assessed nutritional values, just how it investigated troubles of diet deficiencies and also how mammalian development was perceived.

See more: What Is The Square Root Of 81, How To Find The Square Root Of 81

Famously, Widdowson became affiliated in nutritional problems faced in Britain during the second World War, specifically experimenting v minimal diets. Over long periods that self-deprivation McCane and Widdowson verified that health could be maintained on a diet so tiny that others believed starvation would be inevitable. She was also consulted on the careful dietary policy required to remedy the results of gross starvation suffered by Nazi concentration camp victims and later investigated the effects of different varieties of bread on the recovery rates of malnourished youngsters in the general populace of Germany.

Widdowson spent most of her functioning life in Cambridge, in ~ the clinical Research the supervisory board Unit of experimental (later Investigative) Medicine and at the Dunn Nutrition Unit.