Science and Education

John Blackburne (Botanist) 1694-1786

Born 1694
Died 1786
Aged 91or 92

John Blackburne was an English businessman, landowner and renowned amateur botanist.

He was the second son of wealthy salt merchant Jonathan Blackburne of Orford Hall, Warrington, and his first wife Anne Lever. He inherited Orford on the death of his father in 1724.

There in coal-fired hothouses he established a large exotic plant collection, amongst which were some of the earliest English specimens of pineapple, coffee, tea and sugarcane. He was assisted in his endeavours by his daughter Anna, who was herself to become a noted botanist. A detailed catalogue of the whole collection was produced in 1779 by the head gardener, Adam Neal, which has provided the basis of several books. Anna’s natural history tutor, Dr Reinhold Forster (profiled later), who later sailed as naturalist on Cook’s second voyage, named a new genus of fan palm Sabal blackburniana in the family’s honour.

Blackburne was selected High Sheriff of Lancashire for 1743–44 and in 1769 bought the lordship of the manor of Warrington.

He died in 1786 and was buried at St Oswald’s Church, Winwick. He had married Catherine Ashton and had 9 children. His eldest son Thomas, High Sheriff in 1763, predeceased him and thus his estate passed to Thomas’ son, John, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Lancashire. His second son John became Mayor of Liverpool. A younger son Ashton emigrated to the United States and collected bird specimens, many of them new to science.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

John Aikin Snr (Unitarian Scholar and Tutor) 1713-1780

Born 1713
Died 1780
Aged 66 or 67

John Aikin Snr was an English Unitarian scholar and theological tutor, closely associated with Warrington Academy, a prominent dissenting academy.

He was born in 1713, in London. His father, a linen-draper, came originally from Kirkcudbright, in southern Scotland. He was placed for a short time as French clerk in a mercantile house, but entered Kibworth Academy, then run by Philip Doddridge, for whom Aikin was the first pupil. He then went to Aberdeen University, where the anti-Calvinist opinions of the tutors gradually led him to Low Arianism, as it was then called, which afterwards became the distinguishing feature of the Warrington Academy. Aberdeen subsequently conferred upon him the degree of D.D.

Returning from Aberdeen, he was ordained, and after a short period of work as Doddridge’s assistant, he accepted a dissenting congregation at Market Harborough. Bad health made him take up teaching; he tutored Thomas Belsham at Kibworth, which lies between Market Harborough and Leicester; other pupils of Aikin were Newcome Cappe (at an earlier period), Thomas Cogan, and Thomas Simpson.

At Warrington Academy he was one of the first three tutors in 1757, teaching classics. In 1761, Aikin became tutor in divinity, and was succeeded in his old duties by Joseph Priestley. Priestley says of the tutors: ‘We were all Arians, and the only subject of much consequence on which we differed respected the doctrine of Atonement, concerning which Dr. Aikin held some obscure notions.’

Aikin’s health began to fail in 1778; soon afterwards he resigned his tutorship, and died in 1780.


Aikin married Jane, daughter of John Jennings, founder of the academy at Kibworth and a teacher who was influential on the dissenting educational tradition. Their two children were John Aikin, physician and author, and Anna Letitia Barbauld, an author and literary critic who published in multiple genres, including poetry, essays, and children’s literature.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Anna Blackburne (Naturalist) 1726-1793

Born 1726
Died 30 Dec 1793
Aged 67

Anna Blackburne was an English naturalist.

Anna Blackburne was born at Orford Hall, Warrington,, the daughter of John Blackburne and Jane (born Ashton). Her father was a wealthy Cheshire salt dealer, who studied natural history and had famous greenhouses admired by Thomas Pennant (1726–1798).

Inspired by her father, she devoted herself to study natural history in a more systematic way. To improve her understanding of the system developed by Carl von Linné (1707–1778), she learned Latin.

She corresponded with Carl Linnaeus and Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798), who encouraged her to publish her entomological observations and devote herself to the museum of Oxford Hall. .

Her additions to the insect collections were especially notable, thanks to specimens sent to her by Peter Simon Pallas (1741–1811). Her brother Ashton, who had gone to live in the United States of America, also sent her many specimens, especially of birds, that were eventually described by Pennant. She sent Linné specimens of birds and insects that were not described in his Systema Naturae.

She died in Warrington in 1793.


Johan Christian Fabricius (1745–1808), a pupil of Carl Linnaeus, dedicated the beetle Geotrupes blackburnii to her in 1781. Dendroica fusca, the Blackburnian warbler – described by Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller (1725–1776) – is also named in her honour.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Johann Reinhold Foster (1729-1798)

Born 22 Oct 1729
Died 9 Dec 1798
Aged 69

Johann Reinhold Forster and Georg Forster in Tahiti, by John Francis Rigaud, 1780 and now in the public domain.

Observations made during a voyage round the world [in H.M.S. Resolution] on physical geography, natural history, and ethic philosophy, especially on Physical Geography, Natural History and Ethic Philosophy by Johann Reinhold Forster.

Johann Reinhold Forster was a German Reformed (Calvinist) pastor and naturalist of partially Scottish descent who made contributions to the early ornithology of Europe and North America. He is best known as the naturalist on James Cook’s second Pacific voyage, where he was accompanied by his son Georg Forster. These expeditions promoted the career of Johann Reinhold Forster and the findings became the bedrock of colonial professionalism and helped set the stage for the future development of anthropology and ethnology. They also laid the framework for general concern about the impact that alteration of the physical environment for European economic expansion would have on exotic societies.

Forster’s family originated in the Lords Forrester in Scotland from where his great-grandfather had emigrated after losing most of his property during the rule of Oliver Cromwell along with many other Scots. Forster himself was born in the city of Dirschau (Tczew) in the Crown of Poland. He studied languages and natural history at the Joachimsthal Gymnasium in Berlin, theology at the University of Halle, afterwards serving as a Protestant pastor in Mokry Dwór (Nassenhuben) Pomeranian Voivodship. He married his cousin Elisabeth Nikolai. They had several children including a son, Georg Forster and a daughter Virginia Viktoria.

In 1765 he accepted an offer made to him by the Russian government to inspect and report upon the new colonies founded on the banks of the Volga, in the province of Saratov. His irritable temper soon involved him in difficulties with the Russian government, and in the following year he went with Georg (the eldest of eight children, seven of which survived childhood) to England and became teacher of natural history at Warrington, Lancashire.

He spent three years teaching at the Warrington Academy, succeeding Joseph Priestley. Compelled by his violent temper to resign this appointment, Forster then moved with his son to London, where they earned a precarious living by doing translations. In 1771, he published A Catalogue of the Animals of North America, which listed the region’s mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, arachnids, and crustaceans.

When Joseph Banks withdrew at the last moment as naturalist on Cook’s second voyage, Forster and his son were appointed to fill the vacant position. In July 1772 they set sail on the Resolution, returning to England in July 1775. During a stop in Cape Town, Forster engaged Anders Sparrman to act as his assistant.

Both the Forsters kept detailed diaries of everything they saw on the voyage, and made extensive collections of both natural history specimens and artefacts. The first publication after the voyage was Characteres generum plantarum, a book on the botany of the South Pacific. Based on his father’s journals, Georg published A Voyage Round the World in 1777. Reinhold Forster published Observations Made during a Voyage round the World (1778). However the income from the book was insufficient to clear his debts, and the bulk of Georg’s drawings from the voyage had to be sold to Joseph Banks. During the next few years Forster undertook a variety of writing work, including a German translation of Thomas Pennant’s Arctic Zoology.

Johann Reinhold’s “Observations Made During a Voyage Round the World” (1778) and Georg’s “A Voyage Round the World” (1777), mark a key moment in the beginnings of modern racism. “Employing the English word “race” as a synonym for human variety, they interpret the multiplicity of Polynesian culture in terms of a linear hierarchy that naturally ascends towards the white European ideal.”

In November 1779 Forster was appointed Professor of Natural history and Mineralogy at the University of Halle, and director of the Botanische Garten der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, where he remained until his death. His Descriptiones animalium, completed within a month of returning to England with Cook, was eventually edited by Hinrich Lichtenstein and published in 1844.

Forster’s contributions to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1772–73) on zoology, ornithology, and ichthyology established him as one of the earliest authorities on North American zoology.

Forster was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1793.

The standard author abbreviation J.R.Forst. is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Joseph Priestley (Chemist) 1733-1804

Born 24 Mar 1733
Died 6 Feb 1804
Aged 70

Chemist, educator, and political theorist. The original painting is in the National Portrait gallery in London and now in the public domain.

Joseph Priestley FRS  24 March 1733 – 6 February 1804) was an English chemist, natural philosopher, separatist theologian, grammarian, multi-subject educator, and liberal political theorist who published over 150 works. He has historically been credited with the independent discovery of oxygen in 1774 by the thermal decomposition of mercuric oxide, having isolated it. Although Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele also has strong claims to the discovery, Priestley published his findings first. Scheele discovered it by heating potassium nitrate, mercuric oxide, and many other substances in about 1772.

Priestley was born to an established English Dissenting family (i.e. they did not conform to the Church of England) in Birstall, near Batley in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was the oldest of six children born to Mary Swift and Jonas Priestley, a finisher of cloth. To ease his mother’s burdens, Priestley was sent to live with his grandfather around the age of one. He returned home, five years later, after his mother died. When his father remarried in 1741, Priestley went to live with his aunt and uncle, the wealthy and childless Sarah and John Keighley, 3 miles (4.8 km) from Fieldhead. Because Priestley was precocious—at the age of four he could flawlessly recite all 107 questions and answers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism—his aunt sought the best education for the boy, intending him for the ministry. During his youth, Priestley attended local schools where he learned Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

During his lifetime, Priestley’s considerable scientific reputation rested on his invention of carbonated water, his writings on electricity, and his discovery of several “airs” (gases), the most famous being what Priestley dubbed “dephlogisticated air” (oxygen). Priestley’s determination to defend phlogiston theory and to reject what would become the chemical revolution eventually left him isolated within the scientific community.

In 1761, Priestley moved to Warrington in Cheshire and assumed the post of tutor of modern languages and rhetoric at the town’s Dissenting academy, although he would have preferred to teach mathematics and natural philosophy. He fitted in well at Warrington, and made friends quickly. These included the doctor and writer John Aikin, his sister the children’s author Anna Laetitia Aikin, and the potter and businessman Josiah Wedgwood. Wedgwood met Priestley in 1762, after a fall from his horse. Wedgwood and Priestley met rarely, but exchanged letters, advice on chemistry, and laboratory equipment. Wedgwood eventually created a medallion of Priestley in cream-on-blue jasperware.

On 23 June 1762, Priestley married Mary Wilkinson of Wrexham. Of his marriage, Priestley wrote:

This proved a very suitable and happy connexion, my wife being a woman of an excellent understanding, much improved by reading, of great fortitude and strength of mind, and of a temper in the highest degree affectionate and generous; feeling strongly for others, and little for herself. Also, greatly excelling in every thing relating to household affairs, she entirely relieved me of all concern of that kind, which allowed me to give all my time to the prosecution of my studies, and the other duties of my station.

On 17 April 1763, they had a daughter, whom they named Sarah after Priestley’s aunt.

Educator and historian

All of the books Priestley published while at Warrington emphasised the study of history; Priestley considered it essential for worldly success as well as religious growth. He wrote histories of science and Christianity in an effort to reveal the progress of humanity and, paradoxically, the loss of a pure, “primitive Christianity”.

By the time he died in 1804, Priestley had been made a member of every major scientific society in the Western world and he had discovered numerous substances.

This is an abridged profile of Priestley’s life. Much has been written on his life and available online, including at Wikipedia, where these notes are extracted from.

Thomas Percival (Physician and Author) 1740-1804

Born 29 Sep 1740
Died 30 Aug 1804
Aged 63

Portrait of T. Percival.
Source: Wellcome Images.
This file is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Thomas Percival FRS FRSE FSA was an English physician, health reformer, ethicist and author who wrote an early code of medical ethics. He drew up a pamphlet with the code in 1794 and wrote an expanded version in 1803, Medical Ethics; or, a Code of Institutes and Precepts, Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons in which he coined the expression “medical ethics”. He was a founding subscriber of the Portico Library in Manchester and a pioneering campaigner for public health measures and factory regulation in the city.


He was born in Warrington, Lancashire, the son of Joseph Percival and his wife, Margaret Orred. He lost both his parents when he was three years old, so his older sister was responsible for his early education. Once he was old enough, he was placed in a private academy in his home town. He also spent time at the Boteler Grammar School, Warrington. He was enrolled as one of the first students at Warrington Academy in 1756. He achieved a good reputation in classical and theological studies.


In 1761 he went to study Medicine at Edinburgh University. He did further postgraduate study at Leyden University in Holland and obtained his doctorate (MD) in 1765.

He became a fellow to the Royal Society in the same year, through a recommendation by his friend and patron Lord Willoughby de Parham. In 1771 he hosted Benjamin Franklin in Manchester, who went on to be a guest of Rev. John Michell at Thornhill Rectory; other guests being Joseph Priestley and Messrs. Smeaton, Pringle and Ingenhousz. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1789.

After working as a physician in Warrington from 1765, Percival took a similar post in Manchester from 1767. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1786 and to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1787. He was a prominent member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, of which he was a founder member and served as president during 1782-1804

Percival holds an important place in the history of epidemiology for his analysis of the Bills of Mortality from 1772–6, and for his code of medical ethics. The latter was initially circulated privately as a book on jurisprudence in 1794 and as a result of solicited comments from colleagues then published in an expanded form with a change in title to Medical ethics in 1803. Percival had been asked by the Manchester Royal Infirmary to help with an internal dispute and became particularly concerned with the divisions that had arisen among the different branches of the profession – the physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries with their different backgrounds of training (university, hospital, and apprenticeship respectively). But he did not merely concern himself with intraprofessional relationships: he also laid down a code for conduct towards patients, whether rich or poor, and his ideas were rapidly taken up by the USA, Australia, and Canada — in fact, the ethical code introduced by the newly formed American Medical Association in 1847 used several passages taken directly from his book.

He died in Manchester on 30 August 1804 and is buried at Warrington Church.

Occupational health and medical ethics

Percival is also known for his early work in Occupational health. He led a group of doctors to supervise textile mills, their report influenced Robert Peel’s to introduce the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act 1802. The legislation stipulated that children could work only 12 hours per day, walls had to be washed, and visitors had to be admitted to factories so that they could make health-related suggestions.

Percival’s Medical Ethics served as a key source for the American Medical Association (AMA) code, adopted in 1847. Though hyperbolic in its recognition of Percival, the AMA itself states:

The most significant contribution to Western medical ethical history subsequent to Hippocrates was made by Thomas Percival, an English physician, philosopher, and writer. In 1803, he published his Code of Medical Ethics. His personality, his interest in sociological matters, and his close association with the Manchester Infirmary led to the preparation of a scheme of professional conduct relative to hospitals and other charities from which he drafted the code that bears his name.

As one expert writes, “The Percivalian code asserted the moral authority and independence of physicians in service to others, affirmed the profession’s responsibility to care for the sick, and emphasized individual honor.” Percival was a devout Christian.


Percival was married to Elizabeth Basnett.

John Aikin Jnr (Physician and writer) 1747-1822

Born 15 Jan 1747
Died 7 Dec 1822
Aged 74

John Aikin (1747-1822), Physician and author, notable of Evenings at Home, translated into numerous European languages, classed as children’s literature.
The original image was produced by Francis Engleheart (1775-1849), Engraver, and is in the National Portrait gallery in London.

John Aikin was an English medical doctor and surgeon. Later in life he devoted himself wholly to biography and writing in periodicals.

He was born at Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, son of Dr John Aikin (profiled earlier), Unitarian divine, and received his elementary education at the Nonconformist academy at Warrington, where his father was a tutor. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and in London under Dr. William Hunter. He practised as a surgeon at Chester and Warrington. Finally, he went to Leiden in Holland, earned an M.D. in 1780, and in 1784 established himself as a doctor in Great Yarmouth.

In 1792, one of his pamphlets having given offence, he moved to London, where he practised as a consulting physician. He lived in Church Street, Stoke Newington. However, he concerned himself more with the advocacy of liberty of conscience than with his professional duties, and he began at an early period to devote himself to literary pursuits, to which his contributions were incessant. When Richard Phillips founded The Monthly Magazine in 1796, Aikin was its first editor. In conjunction with his sister, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, he published a popular series of volumes entitled Evenings at Home (6 vols, 1792–1795), for elementary family reading, which were translated into almost every European language.


In 1798 Aikin retired altogether from medicine and devoted himself to literary undertakings such as his General Biography (10 vols, 1799–1815). His other work included Biographical Memoirs of Medicine in Great Britain (1780), The Arts of Life… described in a series of letters. For the instruction of young persons (1802, reprinted 1807), and The Lives of John Selden, Esq., and Archbishop Usher (1812).

Apart from editing The Monthly Magazine (1796–1807) and Dodsley’s Annual Register (1811–1815), Aikin produced a paper called The Athenaeum in 1807–1809, not to be confused with the well-known magazine The Athenaeum (1828–1921).


Aikin had four children, three sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Arthur, was a prominent scientist, and the youngest, Edmund, an architect. The second son, Charles, was adopted by Aikin’s sister, who had no children. Through Charles, Aikin was grandfather to the writer Anna Letitia Le Breton. His daughter Lucy was a biographer, who in 1823 published Memoir of John Aikin, M.D., with a selection of Miscellaneous Pieces, Biographical, Moral and Critical.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

James Kendrick Snr (Physician and Botanist) 1771-1847

Born 14 Jan 1771
Died 30 Nov 1847
Aged 76

James Kendrick Snr, M.D., botanist, was born in Warrington, Lancashire, and began to practise medicine there at the close of 1793.

In his leisure he studied botany and zoology, and was admitted a fellow of the Linnean Society. In 1811 he, with a few friends, established the first literary and scientific institution in Warrington, of which he was chosen vice-president; and in 1838 he joined in the formation of the Warrington Natural History Society, of which he was president at the time of his death. This society flourished, and on 3 June 1848 took the name of the Warrington Museum and Library. Kendrick was also instrumental in founding the Warrington Dispensary. He died at Warrington on 30 Nov. 1847 (Gent. Mag. new ser. xxix. 313–14).

Professor Thomas Nuttall named after him the Rhododendron Kendrickii imported into England in 1852 from Bhootan (Annual and Mag. of Nat. Hist. xii. 10). He was intimate with John Howard, the philanthropist, and gave some assistance to Dr. Brown when compiling memoirs of Howard (Kendrick, Warrington Worthies, 2nd edit. pp. 7–8).

Information retrieved from Wikisource.

Arthur Aikin (Chemist) 1773-1854

Born 19 May 1773
Died 15 Apr 1854
Aged 80

Arthur Aikin
(image out of copyright)

An image of Arthur Aikin via Dean & Munday; Painted by S. Drummond, engraved by J. Thompson

Arthur Aikin, FLS, FGS, was an English chemist, mineralogist and scientific writer, and was a founding member of the Chemical Society (now the Royal Society of Chemistry). He first became its treasurer in 1841, and later became the society’s second president.

He was born in Warrington, Lancashire into a distinguished literary family of prominent Unitarians. The best known of these was his paternal aunt, Anna Letitia Barbauld, a woman of letters who wrote poetry and essays as well as early children’s literature. His father, Dr John Aikin, was a medical doctor, historian, and author. His grandfather, also called John (1713–1780), was a Unitarian scholar and theological tutor, closely associated with Warrington Academy. His sister Lucy (1781–1864) was a historical writer. Their brother Charles was adopted by their famous aunt and brought up as their cousin.

Arthur Aikin studied chemistry under Joseph Priestley in the New College at Hackney, and gave attention to the practical applications of the science. In early life he was a Unitarian minister for a short time. Aikin lectured on chemistry at Guy’s Hospital for thirty-two years. He became the President of the British Mineralogical Society in 1801 for five years up until 1806 when the Society merged with the Askesian Society. From 1803 to 1808 he was editor of the Annual Review. In 1805 Aiken also became a Proprietor of the London Institution, which was officially founded in 1806. He was one of the founders of the Geological Society of London in 1807 and was its honorary secretary in 1812–1817. He also gave lectures in 1813 and 1814. He contributed papers on the Wrekin and the Shropshire coalfield, among others, to the transactions of that society. His Manual of Mineralogy was published in 1814. Later he became the paid Secretary of the Society of Arts and later was elected as a Fellow. He was founder of the Chemical Society of London in 1841, being its first Treasurer and, between 1843 and 1845, second president.

In order to support himself, outside of his work with the British Mineralogical Society, the London Institution and the Geological Society, Aiken worked as a writer, translator and lecturer to the public and to medical students at Guy’s Hospital. His writing and journalism were useful for publicising foreign scientific news to the wider British public. He was also a member of the Linnean Society and in 1820 joined the Institution of Civil Engineers.

He was highly esteemed as a man of sound judgement and wide knowledge. Aikin never married, and died at Hoxton in London in 1854.


  • Journal of a Tour through North Wales and Part of Shropshire with Observations in Mineralogy and Other Branches of Natural History (London, 1797)
  • A Manual of Mineralogy (1814; ed. 2, 1815)
  • A Dictionary of Chemistry and Mineralogy (with his brother C. R. Aikin), 2 vols. (London, 1807, 1814).

For Rees’s Cyclopædia he wrote articles about Chemistry, Geology and Mineralogy, but the topics are not known.

information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Charles Rochemont Aikin (Doctor) 1775-1847

Born 1755
Died 20 Mar 1847
Aged 91 or 92

Charles Rochemont Aikin was an English doctor and chemist.

He was born in Warrington, Lancashire into a distinguished literary family of prominent Unitarians. His father, Dr John Aikin, was a medical doctor, historian, and author. His grandfather, also called John Aikin (1713–1780), was a Unitarian scholar and theological tutor, closely associated with Warrington Academy. His sister Lucy (1781–1864) was a historical writer; one brother Arthur (1773–1854) was a chemist, mineralogist, and scientific writer; another, Edmund, was an architect.

He was adopted as a child by his aunt, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, a prominent poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and children’s author. She and her husband Rochemont ran a dissenting academy (a sort of boarding school for the sons of Dissenters) at Palgrave in Suffolk; Charles was educated at their Palgrave Academy. He is the “little Charles” of Mrs. Barbauld’s Lessons for Children.

From an early age he devoted himself to science, and aided his eldest brother Arthur in his first published works and public lectures. Subsequently he applied himself to medicine, became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and was chosen secretary of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London. He married Anne, daughter of the Rev. Gilbert Wakefield; one of their children was the writer and memoirist Anna Letitia Le Breton. Aikin died at his house in Bloomsbury Square, central London, on 20 March 1847.


  • Concise View of all the most important Facts that have hitherto appeared respecting the Cow Pox,’ 1800.
  • Dictionary of Chemistry and Mineralogy, 1807–1814, which he wrote in conjunction with his eldest brother.
  • Rees’s Cyclopædia, articles (topics unknown).

James Kendrick Jnr (Doctor) 1809-1882

Born 7 Nov 1809
Died 6 Apr 1882
Aged 72

James Kendrick, topographer, was born in Warrington and graduated M.D. at Edinburgh on 1 Aug. 1833.

He had a large practice at Warrington, and also cultivated a taste for antiquities. He frequently lectured on local topography and history. Many papers from his pen appeared in the publications of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Chester Archaeological Society, the ‘Reliquary,’ and ‘Warrington Guardian.’

In 1853 he became a member of the British Archaeological Association. During the same year he published ‘An Account of Excavations made at the Mote Hill, Warrington,’ 8vo, Liverpool, 1853, and ‘Profiles of Warrington Worthies,’ 4to, Warrington, 1853 (2nd edit., 1854), illustrated with silhouette likenesses. He wrote in 1856 an amusing ‘Account of the Loyal Warrington Volunteers of 1798.’

In 1859 he took charge of the antiquities in the Warrington Museum, and added greatly to the collection. He spared neither time nor money in prosecuting the excavations at the Roman station at Wilderspool, near Warrington, which (with Dr. Robson) he thought might be the Condate of Antonine. All the remains discovered there were presented by him to the museum. He increased the value of the gift by compiling in 1872 an excellent ‘Guide Book’ to the collection.

After his death his daughter handed over to the museum his fine collection of ecclesiastical and medieval seals and his bequest of one hundred volumes. To the public library he gave more than three hundred books bearing a Warrington imprint.

He died in Warrington 6 April 1882. A memoir of him in the ‘Palatine Note-Book’ (ii. 113–16, 179–80) gives his portrait and a list of his writings, including many contributed to newspapers and antiquarian periodicals. He was married three times. The more important of his other publications are:

  1. ‘A Description of two Ancient Chess Men discovered in the Mote Hill, Warrington,’ 1852.
  2. ‘A Morning’s Ramble in Old Warrington,’ 1855.
  3. ‘An Account of Warrington Siege, anno 1643,’ 1856.
  4. ‘The Warrington Blue Coat School Exposure, and its Beneficial Results,’ 1868.
  5. ‘Memorials of the late Dr. Robson of Warrington, by William Robson and Dr. Kendrick.’

[Warrington Advertiser, 8 and 15 April 1882; Manchester Guardian, 11 April 1882; Journal of Brit. Archæolog. Assoc. xxxviii. 337–8.]

Information retrieved from Wikisource.

Padraig O’Brien (Doctor of Medicine) 1922-2002

Born 1922
Died 2002
Aged 80

Padraig O’Brien OBE M.D., was born in Dublin. He was educated by the Jesuits at Belvedere College and qualified in medicine at the University of Dublin.

He moved to Warrington in 1946 as house physician at Warrington Infirmary. After a brief period working in Hindley, Wigan and Rochdale in Lancashire, he returned to Warrington to settle in general practice until his retirement n 1985.

A member of Literary and Philosophical Society from 1949, he became interested in local history and especially Warrington Academy, where his interest in reading, research and collections of literature over the years matured.

His achievements were recognised with the award of an OBE in 1973.

In 1986 Manchester College, Oxford, celebrated the bicentenary of the foundation of Manchester Academy which itself arose from the demise of Warrington Academy. To mark the occasion Warrington Library organised an exhibition. The research for that project became the inspiration for O’Brien’s book Warrington Academy 1757-86, It’s Predecessors & Successors. A second book, Eyres’ Press 1756-1803, was published by him in 1993.

Dr O’Brien continued to live in Warrington until his death in 2002.

Some information taken from the jackets of the above-named books and a brief note from the Warrington Guardian report of his funeral.

Geoffrey Hewitt (Chemical Engineer) 1934-2019

Born 3 Jan 1934
Died 18 Jan 2019
Aged 85

Geoffrey Frederick Hewitt FRS FREng FRSC FIChemE was a British chemical engineer, and Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London, where from 1993 to 1999 he was the Courtaulds Professor of chemical engineering.

Hewitt attended Boteler Grammar School, Warrington and earned a BSc Tech in chemical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology followed by a PhD in the same in 1957. He worked for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority until 1985 when he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, being made Courtaulds Professor of chemical engineering in 1993 and Emeritus Professor in 1999 till his death.

He died 18 January 2019.


Hewitt received honorary degrees from the University of Louvain (1988), and Heriot Watt University (1995). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1984, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1989. He was President of the IChemE for 1989–1990 and received its M. M. Sharma Medal for his contributions in 2017.


  • Encyclopedia of Heat and Mass Transfer, Hemisphere Publ. Corp., 1986
  • Introduction to Nuclear Power, Taylor & Francis, 1 March 1987

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Michael Driscoll (Economist) 1950-

Born 27 Oct 1950

Michael John Driscoll was born Warrington and is an economist, sometime Chair of the Coalition of Modern Universities in the UK and from 1996 to 2015 was Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University in London. In 2016, he was appointed President and Vice-Chancellor of Taylor’s University in Malaysia.

From Trent Polytechnic, he obtained a BA in Economics. He lectured in Economics at the University of Birmingham from 1977-1989. He spent three years during this period on secondments at the OECD in Paris. From 1989-91 he was Head of Economics at Middlesex University.

He was Chairman of the Coalition of Modern Universities from 2003-2007 (became Million+ in 2004).

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Phillipa Perry (Psychotherapist) 1957-

Born 1957

Philippa Perry is a British psychotherapist and author. She has written the graphic novel Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy (2010), How to Stay Sane (2012), and The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did) (2019).

Philippa Perry was born in Warrington. Her mother’s family owned a cotton mill and her father inherited an engineering company and a farm. She was educated at Abbots Bromley School for Girls and at a Swiss finishing school.

She worked as a litigation clerk, an enquiry agent, and a McDonald’s employee. She went to Middlesex Polytechnic where she gained a degree in Fine Art as a mature student.


In 1985 she trained and volunteered for the Samaritans, after which she trained as a psychotherapist. Perry worked in the mental health field for 20 years, 10 in private practice, before being published. From 2010 she spent time on the faculty of The School of Life, but she has subsequently discontinued this.

She had a regular column about psychotherapy in Psychologies Magazine for two years; in September 2013 she became Red Magazine’s agony aunt. She also works as a freelance journalist specialising in psychology and was an occasional presenter for The Culture Show on BBC Two.

Perry has presented various documentaries including: Sex Lies and Lovebites: The Agony Aunt Story (BBC Four); Being Bipolar (Channel 4); The Truth About Children Who Lie (BBC Radio 4); and The Great British Sex Survey (Channel 4).

In 2010 the academic publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, published Perry’s book, Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy. It is a graphic novel that tells a tale of a psychotherapist and her client, from both their perspectives. Underneath the graphic novel boxes, Perry takes the position of commentator and provides footnotes on what might be going on between them and what theories the therapist is drawing on or should be drawing on. There is an afterword by Andrew Samuels.

Perry is a monthly Agony Aunt for Red magazine and since Sunday 20 June 2021, for The Observer.


In April 2016 Perry announced her support for the Women’s Equality Party.

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George Davey Smith (Epidemiologist) 1959-

Born 9 May 1959

George Davey Smith FRS (born 9 May 1959) is a British epidemiologist. He has been professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Bristol since 1994, honorary professor of public health at the University of Glasgow since 1996, and visiting professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine since 1999.

He was also the scientific director of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (until replaced in 2017 by Nic Timpson) and a former editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Davey Smith attended Stockton Heath Primary School and Lymm Grammar School in Warrington. He received a BA from Queen’s College, Oxford in 1981, an MB BChir from Jesus College, Cambridge in 1984, an MSc from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1988, an MD from Jesus College, Cambridge in 1991, and a DSc from Queen’s College, Oxford in 2000.

Honours and awards

Davey Smith is an ISI highly cited researcher, a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, United Kingdom. In 2019 Smith became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Information Retrieved from Wikipedia.

Helen Wilson (Mathematician) 1973-

Helen Jane Wilson is a British mathematician and the first female Head of Mathematics at University College London (UCL).

Her research focuses on the theoretical and numerical modelling of the flow of non-Newtonian fluids such as polymeric materials and particle suspensions.

Helen Wilson was born in Warrington. Her father, Leslie Knight Wilson was a chartered accountant; her mother, Brenda (née Naylor) a French teacher. She attended Broomfields Junior School and Bridgewater High School. Wilson studied at Clare College, Cambridge, completing a BA, Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics (later converted to an MMath) and PhD in mathematics. Her PhD thesis, titled “Shear Flow Instabilities in Viscoelastic Fluids”, was supervised by John Rallison. On graduation she moved to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she began research on suspension mechanics with Rob Davis in the Chemical Engineering department.

Mathematical work

In 2000 Wilson returned to the UK to take up a lectureship in Applied Mathematics at the University of Leeds. In 2004 she moved to UCL, where she is Professor of Applied Mathematics and as of September 2018, Head of Department. Wilson is the first female to hold the position of Head of Mathematics at UCL.

Research in fluid mechanics

Wilson’s PhD thesis and early papers focused on instabilities in viscoelastic fluids. She predicted a new instability in channel flow of a shear-thinning fluid which was later discovered experimentally by another group and on which she still works. She has also worked on instabilities in shear-banding flows and in more complex geometries.

Her other major research interest, besides viscoelasticity, is suspension mechanics, and in particular the effect of particle contacts on fluid rheology. Her most recent projects draw these two fields together, investigating the interaction of solid particles with their complex material environment in fields ranging from healthcare to engineering.

Her academic publications are listed on the UCL site.

One of her best-known publications is the paper “The fluid dynamics of the chocolate fountain”, co-authored with Adam Townsend. Unusually for a mathematical paper, this was covered in the Washington Post.

Knowledge transfer

Wilson gave the 2019 Joint London Mathematical Society Annual Lecture on “Toothpaste, custard and chocolate: mathematics gets messy”.

Problem plastics & how mathematics can help, published in UCL Science and presented at Mathematics Works (Oct 2007).

Public lecture: From gases to gloops: Instabilities in fluids in the UCL Lunch Hour Lecture series on 23 February 2016.

Non-technical articles

Case study for the Royal Society on how a supportive employer can support a mother on her return to work.

Blog post and BBC World TV news interview commenting on the award of the Fields Medal to a female mathematician for the first time.

The D’Hondt method Explained: brief explanation of an easier way to understand the allocation of seats at the European elections.


Practical Analytical Methods for PDEs in volume 1 of the LTCC Advanced Mathematics series, World Scientific, 2015.

In 2016, Wilson co-authored with Dame Celia Hoyles a chapter of the book “Mathematics: How It Shaped Our World”


Wilson is an editor of the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics and the Journal of Engineering Mathematics. She is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Physics of Fluids.

She was president (for the 2015–2017 term) of the British Society of Rheology the first woman to hold this position.

In 2014 she was a member of the subject panel for Mathematics on ALCAB (the A Level Content Advisory Board), advising on the reforms to A Level Mathematics for first teaching in September 2016.

She was a Council Member and is now the Vice-President (Learned Societies) of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.