You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war. — Winston Churchill

Historical Characters of British Empire

    Foundation of Empire     Height of Empire     Australasia     Colonies and Canada     British India     Colonial Africa     Science and Invention     Great War

Foundation of Empire—1707 to 1815

Act of Union to Battle of Waterloo


CharacterDate Short Biography

Monarchs/Statesmen

George I1660–1727 First Hanoverian Monarch of Britain. Entrusted government to Robert Walpole
George II1683–1760 Second Hanoverian Monarch of Britain.
George III1738–1820 Monarch whose long reign encompassed Revolutionary, and Napoleonic Wars.
Old Pretender1688–1766 Son of James II, led Jacobites in a bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.
Young Pretender1720–1788 Grandson of James II, led Jacobites in bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.
Robert Walpole1676–1745 First Prime Minister of Britain. Ran cabinet meetings for George I
William Pitt1708–1778 Statesman who masterminded the rise of the British Empire during the critical 18th century.
William Pitt1759–1806 Son of the Earl of Chatham, served between American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
Edmund Burke1730–1797 Very influential Political Philosopher, whose works are a basis of constitutional law.

Military

General Wolfe1727–1759 Defeated the French at the Battle of Quebec, giving Canada to Britain. Died during battle.
Lord Anson1697–1762 British naval hero who circumnavigated the globe and wrote a diary about his journey.
Lord Edward Hawke1705–1781 Hero of the naval Battle of Quiberon during the Seven Years War.
General Braddock1695–1755 Led a disastrous campaign to Fort Duquesne (Ohio) during the French and Indian Wars.
General Burgoyne1723–1792 British leader who surrendered with 6000 men to American forces at Saratoga.
General Cornwallis1738–1805 British leader defeated at Yorktown in Revolutionary War. Later served as governor in India.
Horatio Nelson1758–1805 Great Naval hero of his age; victor at the Battle of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar.
Duke of Wellington1769–1852 Napoleonic war general who fought in Spain and Portugal. Defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
John Moore1761–1809 Napoleonic War hero who died at the Battle of Coruna.

Arts/Literature

Adam Smith1723–1790 Leading theorist of modern capitalism. Wrote The Wealth of Nations.
Alexander Pope1688–1744 Eminent poet and Satirist of the enlightenment era. Wrote Essay on Criticism.
John Wesley1703–1774 Founder of the evangelical Methodist movement in England. Social reformer.
Jonathan Swift1667–1745 Poet, essayist, and satirist. Best known as author of Gulliver's Travels.
Samuel Johnson1709–1784 Eminent literary figure in England. Wrote the first British Dictionary.
Angelica Kaufmann1741–1807 Eminent European Painter, who lived many years in England.

Heroines

Flora MacDonald1722–1790 Heroine who help Bonnie Prince Charles escape from Scotland.
Hannah More1745–1833 Dedicated her life to helping the poor of England.
Elizabeth Fry1780–1845 Quaker and prison reformer. Fought for better conditions for inmates.

Height of Empire—1815 to 1902

End of Napoleonic Wars to Second Boer War


CharacterDate Short Biography

Monarchs/Statesmen

Victoria I1819–1901 Longest reigning English Monarch. Presided over the British Empire at its height.
Robert Peel1788–1850 Important Victorian Era British prime minister who oversaw several free market and political reforms.
Benjamin Disraeli1804–1881 Prime Minister, Author, and conservative rival of Gladstone.
William Gladstone1809–1898 Prime minister and member of the Liberal Party. Opponent of Disraeli.
Charles Parnell1846–1891 Irish Catholic politician who fought for home rule for Ireland.
Cecil Rhodes1853–1902 Power broker in South Africa, tried to turn all provinces into a British Colony.

Military

Lord Raglan1788–1855 Field Marshall of English Forces during the Crimean War.
Henry Havelock1795–1857 Led a division to relieve Lucknow during the Sepoy Rebellion. Died during the siege.
William Brydon1811–1873 Surgeon in the Bengal army; sole surviver of the massacre at Khyber pass in Afghanistan.
Charles Gordon1833–1885 General who defeated the Tai-pings in China, served as governor in Soudan and resisted the Mahdi in Khartoum.
Lord Roberts1832–1914 Career officer, saw service in Indian Mutiny, Afghanistan, Abyssinia, India and South Africa.
Horatio Kitchener1850–1916 Military hero of the late 19th century, first in Sudan, and later in the Boer Wars
John Franklin1786–1847 Explorer of the Artic regions of Canada.

Art and Literature

Sir Walter Scott1771–1832 Author best known for novels set in Scotland.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning1809–1861 Eminent poet of the Victorian era. Married to Robert Browning.
Charles Dickens1812–1870 Prolific novelist of the Victorian Era. Wrote David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol and others.
Thomas Carlyle1795–1881 Popular Victorian age essayist and historian.
Alfred Tennyson1809–1892 Best known poet of he Victorian Age. Write Idylls of the King and many others.
Rudyard Kipling1865–1936 Kipling's novel's and poetry are associated with British Imperialism, for good and ill.

Heroines

Grace Darling1815–1842 British heroine who saved sailors from a ship that crashed on her father's lighthouse.
Florence Nightingale1820–1910 Nurse who reformed the care of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.


Australasia—1770 to 1907

Voyage of Captain Cook to New Zealand Dominion


CharacterDate Short Biography

Explorers

Abel Tasman1603–1659 Visited Formosa and Japan, discovered Tasmania and New Zealand
William Dampier1651–1715 English explorer who circumnavigated the globe three times, and discovered Australia and other islands in the South Pacific.
Captain Cook1728–1779 Discovered Australia and New Zealand. Helped establish colonies there.
George Bass1771–1803 Naturalist and Surgeon, who with Flinders, explored Botany Bay and Van Diemen's Land.
Matthew Flinders1774–1814 Naval Captain, circumnavigated Australia and explored inner regions.

Australian Heroes

Ernest Rutherford1871–1937 Father of nuclear physics. Advocated the orbital theory of the atom.
Arthur Philip1738–1814 First Governor of New South Wales penal colony in Australia. Led colony through various difficulties.
William Bligh1754–1817 British naval Captain who served as an unpopular governor of Australia. Famous for Mutiny on the Bounty.
Ned Kelly1854–1880 Bushranger of Irish heritage who became a folk hero among Irish Catholic Australians.
John McArthur1767–1834 British officer who introduced sheep farming and made Australia a leading wool producing region.
Breaker Morant1864–1902 Australian horseman, poet, soldier, and folk-hero who was executed by the British for misconduct during the Boer Wars.

New Zealand Heroes

Samuel Marsden1764–1838 Early settler in Australia and missionary to the Maori's in New Zealand.
William Hobson1792–1842 British Captain who served as the first governor of New Zealand and negotiated the Treaty of Waitangi with natives.
Edward Wakefield1796–1862 Organized early settlements in Australia and New Zealand.
George Grey1812–1898 Governor of South Australia, Cape Colony, and New Zealand.
Hongi Hika1772–1828 Maori chief who purchased weapons from the British and led his tribe to domination during the Musket Wars.
Hone Heke1810–1850 Maori chief who resisted British rule, and instigated the Flagstaff War.

Colonies and Canada—1585 to 1885

Roanoke Colony to Saskatchewan Rebellion


CharacterDate Short Biography

Explorers

Humphrey Gilbert1537–1583 Sea-faring adventurer. Founded the first English colony in Canada.
Martin Frobisher1535–1594 Explored much of Canada in seach of the Northwest Passage. Fought in the Armada.
John Davis1550–1605 British explorer who sought the Northwest Passage through Canada.
Henry Hudson1575–1611 Explorer who discovered Hudson Bay and other parts of North America.
Jacques Cartier 1491–1557 Discovered the St. Lawrence Seaway and great lakes, while searching for Northwest Passage.
Pere Marquette1637–1675 French Missionary who explored the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes.
Rene La Salle1643–1687 Dauntless adventurer who followed the Mississippi to its mouth, and claimed all for France.
William Baffin1585–1622 Discovered Baffin Bay while on a quest to find the Northwest Passage.
George Vancouver1757–1798 Discovered Puget Sound, Vancouver Island, Columbia River; claimed region for Britain.
Alexander Mackenzie1764–1820 Discovered the Mackenzie River and Great Northern Lakes of Canada.

French Heroes

Samuel de Champlain1580–1635 Founded French colonies in the St. Lawrence seaway and great lake region. Father of 'New France.'
Count Frontenac1622–1698 Governor of New France from 1672 to 1698. Expanded fur trade, and fought with British.
Madeline de Vercheres1678–1747 Fended off a tribe of Indians attacking her for when she was only fourteen.
Daulac1635–1660 Led a group of volunteers form Montreal to ambush a force of Iroquois. The entire force was killed to a man.
Saint Isaac Jogues1607–1646 Heroic Jesuit missionary to Indians. Tortured by the Indians, but returned to preach the gospel.
General Montcalm1712–1759 Military leader of New France during the Seven Year War; died at Battle of Quebec.

British Heroes

General Braddock1695–1755 Led a disastrous campaign to Fort Duquesne (Ohio) during the French and Indian Wars.
General Wolfe1727–1759 Defeated the French at the Battle of Quebec, giving Canada to Britain. Died during battle.
Lord Durham1792–1840 Helped draft the Reform bill of 1832. Then recommended a form of self government for Canada.
Lord Selkirk1771–1820 Obtained a land grand near Red River valley and help poor Scottish pioneers settle there.
Laura Secord1775–1868 During War of 1812, warned a British Lieutenant of an impending surprise attack.

Native Heroes

Tecumseh1768–1813 Shawnee Hero. Tried to unify tribes against the colonists. Fought for Britain during War of 1812.
Louis Riel1844–1885 Leader of the Metis tribes of Manitoba and Saskatchewan who fought for their rights.

British India—1526 to 1914

Baber founds Moghul Empire to First World War


CharacterDate Short Biography

Early India

Mahmud of Ghazni971–1030 Moslem general who invaded India in the 11th century. Destroyed temples, collected tribute, then left.
Mohammed Ghori1162–1206 Moslem general who invaded India in the late 12th century. Massacred thousands of Hindus.

Portuguese India: 1497-1580

Vasco da Gama1460–1524 Portuguese explorer who voyaged to Calicut, India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Francisco de Almeida1450–1510 Portuguese general who served in the wars against Granada, and was appointed the first governor of Portuguese India.
Alfonso de Albuquerque1453–1515 Portuguese commander who won numerous naval conflicts in Asia and helped establish a colony in India at Goa.

Mughal Empire: 1526-1739

Baber1483–1530 Founder of the Moghul empire in India.
Humayun1508–1556 Second of the Indian Mogul dynasty, and father of Akbar. Lost his kingdom but regained it with Persian help.
Akbar the Great1542–1605 Reconquered, unified and expanded the Mughal Empire.
Jehanjir1569–1627 Son of Akbar, and Great Mogul of India when the British first tried to establish trading posts in the region.
Nur Jehan1577–1645 Favorite wife of Emperor Jahangir. Engaged in much legendary palace intrigue.
Aurangzeb1618–1707 Moslem ruler of largely Hindu India. Consolidated the Mughal empire, but oppressed Hindus.
Shivaji1630–1689 Founder of the Maratha emperor. Resisted the Moghul ruler under Aurangzeb.
Nadir Shuh1688–1747 Great Persian General who attacked the Moghuls in India, and massacred civilians.
Muhammad Shah1702–1748 Ruler of the Moghul Empire in India, when it was over-run by Nadir Shah of Persia.
Connaji Angriad. 1729 Pirate prince who controlled the Malabar coast of India. His base at Geriah was attacked by Popock in 1756
Baji Rao I1699–1740 Most famous Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy. Extended the Maratha kingdom to its greatest range.

Early British Era: 1740-1814

Dupleix1697–1763 Governor of the French trading company in India; rival of Clive for control of Bengal;
Mir Jafar1691–1765 Succeed to the position of Nawab of Bengal after Clive won the Battle of Plassey.
Robert Clive1725–1774 British soldier, who rose to be a hero in the Carnatic Wars and delivered Bengal to Britain at the Battle of Plassey.
Siraj Ud Daulah1733–1757 Last independent Nawab of Bengal. Lost his kingdom to Clive at Plassey.
Tipu Sultan1750–1799 Took over the Mysore Kingdom on the death of his father Hyder Ali. Fought the British in a series of Anglo-Mysore wars.
Warren Hastings1732–1818 Early Governor of India. Was tried for corruption, but acquitted after a lengthy trial.
Mir Cossimd. 1777 Son-in-law of Mir Jafar, who was raised to the Nawabship by the British, but rebelled against them.
Mahadaji Sindhia1730–1794 Leader of the Sindhias of Gwalior. Fought at Panipat. Exceptional General who defeated British at Wargaom.
Hyder Ali1722–1782 Muslim Ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in Southern India. Allied with the French against the British.
Tipu Sultan1750–1799 Took over the Mysore Kingdom on the death of his father Hyder Ali. Fought the British in a series of Anglo-Mysore wars.

British Raj: 1814-19??

Jeswunt Rao Hoklard. 1811 Leader of the Holkars of Idore. Fought Britain in the First and Second Maratha Wars.
Sindhia of Gwalior1779–1827 Leader of the Sindhias of Gwalior. Fought Britain in the Second and Third Maratha Wars.
Lord Amherst1773–1857 British ambassador to China, and then governor of India. Fought first Burmese War.
William Brydon1811–1873 Surgeon in the Bengal army; sole surviver of the massacre at Khyber pass in Afghanistan.
Henry Havelock1795–1857 Led a division to relieve Lucknow during the Sepoy Rebellion. Died during the siege.
Lord Dalhousie1812–1860 Made major reforms and increased British holding in India, shortly before the mutiny.
Colin Campbell1792–1863 Commanded the Highland Brigade during the Crimean War. Also served in India.
James Outram1803–1863 Hero of the sieges of Cawnpore and Lucknow during the Sepoy Rebellion.
Lord Roberts1832–1914 Career officer, saw service in Indian Mutiny, Afghanistan, Abyssinia, India and South Africa.
Marquess Wellesley1760–1842 Governor-general of India, fought Second Maratha and Mysore wars. Later, promoted Catholic emancipation.
Nana Sahib1824–1859 Adopted son of the Marthi Peshwar. Leader of the Indian Mutiny.
Baji Rao IId. 1851 Peshwa who fled to Britain for protection after loss to one of his enemies
Ranjit Singh1780–1839 Sikh emperor of the Punjab. Ruled the Punjab well, as an independent state until his death.

Afghans, Burmese, Gurkhas, etc.

Alombra the Hunter1714–1760 Burmese King. Founder of the Konbaung dynasty which bordered on Bengal.
Dost Muhammed1793–1863 Afghan ruler during the first Anglo-Afghan War
Siddhartha Gautama563–483 BC Nepalese prince who left his throne to meditate and became the Buddha.

Colonial Africa—1770 to 1910

Discovery of Blue Nile to Union of South Africa


CharacterDate Short Biography

Explorers

Edward Bruce1275–1318 Declared himself king of Ireland and led a rebellion against the English governors of Ireland.
Mungo Park1771–1806 Explorer of the Niger river area in Africa.
Hugh Clapperton1788–1827 Explored Sub-Saharan Africa. Discovered Lake Chad.
John Hanning Speke1827–1864 Explored, with Burton, the Great lakes region of Africa.
David Livingstone1813–1873 As a medical missionary, he explored uncharted regions of the interior of Africa.
Richard Burton1821–1890 Explored, with Speke, the Great lakes region of Africa. Also translated Arabian Nights.
H. M. Stanley1841–1904 Met Livingstone in African, then continued his explorations. Followed the Congo river to the sea.
Paul du Chaillu1835–1903 Adventurer who explored equatorial Africa for six years, and tried to cross the continent.

Dutch/Boer Heroes

Jan van Riebeck1619–1677 Founder and first Governor of the Dutch settlement at Cape Town, South Africa.
Simon van der Stel1639–1712 First Governor-General of Dutch East India company's colony at Cape town.
Pieter Retief1780–1838 Leader of Boers during the Great Trek. Murdered by Dingaan during negotiations.
Andries Pretorius1798–1853 Leader of Boers who avenged death of Piet Retief, and formed the Transvaal Republic.
Paul Kruger1825–1904 Boer leader who resisted British rule, and was president of the Transvaal Republic.
Louis Botha1862–1919 Boer Hero during the Second Boer War. First Prime Minister of South Africa.

British Heroes

Harry Smith1787–1860 Notable British military commander who served in the Peninsular War and afterward India and South Africa.
George Goldie1846–1925 British administrator who created a trading company to secure Britain's claim to Nigeria.
George Grey1812–1898 Governor of South Australia, Cape Colony, and New Zealand.
Cecil Rhodes1853–1902 Power broker in South Africa, tried to turn all provinces into a British Colony.
Robert Baden-Powell1857–1941 British general who defended city of Mafeking during the Boer War. Later founded the Boy Scout movement.
Dr. Jameson1852–1917 South African statemen responsible for the failed 'Jameson Raid' on the Dutch Republic.
Horatio Kitchener1850–1916 Military hero of the late 19th century, first in Sudan, and later in the Boer Wars

Native Heroes

Chaka1781–1828 Chieftain who oversaw the Zulu's rise to power, and domination over a large region of S. Africa.
Dingan1795–1840 Ruled Zulus after assassinating Shaka. Murdered Boer leaders leading to Zulu-Boer War.
Cetewayo1826–1884 Leader of the Zulus during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Egypt/Sudan

Mehemet Ali1769–1848 Albanian officer in the Turkish army who overthrew the Mamelukes in Egypt. Established his own dynasty. Cooperated with the British.
Arabi Pasha1839–1911 Leader of an insurrectionary movement in Egypt in 1882
Mahdi1844–1885 Raised an army of Rebel Muslim Sudanese. Caused widespread carnage. Besieged Khartoum.
The Khalifa1846–1899 Succeeded as leader of the Mahdists on the death of Mahdi. Fought Kitchener at Omdurman.
Charles Gordon1833–1885 General who defeated the Tai-pings in China, served as governor in Soudan and resisted the Mahdi in Khartoum.

Science and Invention—1660 to 1914

Isaac Newton to Great War


CharacterDate Short Biography

Science - Astronomy

Tycho Brahe1546–1601 Made accurate astronomical observations, used by Kepler to calculate motion of planets.
Johannes Kepler1571–1630 Proposed Heliocentric theory after studying measurements of Tycho Brahe.
Galileo Galilei1564–1642 Promoted Heliocentric theory against pressure from the Pope. Invented the telescope.
Isaac Newton1642–1727 Outstanding scientist. Made important breakthroughs in physics, optics, and mathematics.
William Herschel1738–1822 Astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus, improved telescopes, and made many other discoveries.

Science - Physics/Chemistry

Antoine Lavoisier1743–1794 French scientist, known as the "Father of Chemistry". Discovered oxygen and established the principle of conservation of mass.
John Dalton1766–1844 Chemist who proposed the atomic theory, and designed experiments to prove it.
Lord Kelvin1824–1907 Made important discoveries in thermodynamics and electricity.
J. J. Thomson1856–1940 Discovered the electron, and also the isotope.
Madame Curie1867–1934 A pioneer in the field of radioactivity, and first female winner of the Nobel prize in physics.
Ernest Rutherford1871–1937 Father of nuclear physics. Advocated the orbital theory of the atom.

Science - Biology/Geology

Carolus Linnaeus1707–1778 Great Taxonomist, who initiated naming conventions and classification of plants and animals.
Charles Lyell1797–1875 Influential 19th century Geologist who promoted the idea of doctrine of uniformitarianism (as opposed to catastrophism.)
Charles Darwin1809–1882 Proposed the theory of evolution of species. Wrote The Descent of Man.

Electromagnetism/Communication

Alexander Volta1745–1827 Invented the first usable electrical storage battery.
Samuel Morse1791–1872 Inventor of Morse code, a system telegraph transmission widely used before the telephone.
Michael Faraday1791–1867 Physicist who was important in the development of electricity and magnetism.
James Clerk Maxwell1831–1879 Developed laws defining the behavior of electricity and magnetism.
Alexander Graham Bell1847–1922 Inventor of the telephone, and also a founder of a school for the deaf.
Thomas Edison1847–1931 Prolific inventor, responsible for improvements in the light bulb, movies, phonograph, and many others.
Guglielmo Marconi1874–1937 Inventor of a wireless telegraphy system, first used on ships.

Medicine

William Harvey1578–1657 Medical doctor who described the process of circulation and the role of the heart and blood.
Edward Jenner1749–1823 English doctor who developed a vaccine for smallpox.
Louis Pasteur1822–1895 Renowned scientist in bacteriology. Helped develop germ theory of disease and pasteurization process.
Joseph Lister1827–1912 Promoted the idea of sterilization using antiseptics to kill germs on wounds and medical instruments.
Alexander Fleming1881–1895 Scottish biologist who studied bacteria and discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin.

Textiles

James Hargreaves1720–1778 Inventor of an automated Spinning wheel. Founder of the Industrial Revolution.
Richard Arkwright1732–1792 Inventor of the spinning frame, which allowed water or steam power to spin cloth.
Samuel Crompton1753–1827 Inventor of the Spinning Mule, which could be used to make fine cloth such as Muslin.
Eli Whitney1765–1825 Inventor of the Cotton Gin, and also interchangeable parts for rifles.
Elias Howe1819–1867 American inventor of the sewing machine. His great innovation was the "lock stitch".

Industry

James Watt1736–1819 Inventor of the Steam Engine, and founder of the Industrial Revolution.
Robert Fulton1765–1815 Inventor of Steamboats. Operated the steamboat Clermont on the Hudson River.
George Stephenson1781–1848 Inventor of the steam locamotive, and the modern railroad.
Charles Goodyear1800–1860 Discovered the process for 'vulcanizing' rubber, and making it far more usable.
Cyrus McCormick1809–1884 Invented the mechanical reaper, which revolutionized agriculture, especially in midwest.
Henry Bessemer1813–1898 Invented a process for the manufacture of steel, that was of superior quality for a low cost.
Rudolf Diesel1858–1913 German engineer and inventor who developed a practical internal combustion 'diesel' engine.
Wilber and Orville1871–1948 Inventors of the first practical airplane. The Wright brothers were self-educated bicycle shop owners.

Great War—1901 to 1921

Death of Victoria to Aftermath of Great War


CharacterDate Short Biography

British Leaders

George V1865–1936 King of England during the Great War. Relinquished all German holdings; changed name to Windsor.
Horatio Kitchener1850–1916 Military hero of the late 19th century, first in Sudan, and later in the Boer Wars
Lawrence of Arabia1888–1935 Middle east archeologist and historian who served with the British and Arab irregulars during WWI.
Rudyard Kipling1865–1936 Kipling's novel's and poetry are associated with British Imperialism, for good and ill.
General Pershing1860–1948 Leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I.

French Leaders

Joseph Joffre1852–1931 Commander and chief of the French army during the early years of the Great War.
Ferdinand Foch1851–1929 Military theorist and teacher who became Field Marshall of the Allies during the Great War.

German Leaders

Kaiser William II1859–1941 Second Kaiser built up a strong navy, , and bumbled into disastrous World War.
General Hindenburg1847–1934 Field Marshal during WWI, and German Statesman. President of Germany after the War.