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Historical Characters of British Empire

    Glorious Revolution     Foundation of Empire     Height of Empire     Colonies and Canada     British India     Colonial Africa     Australia     Science and Invention



Glorious Revolution—1688 to 1745

Glorious Revolution to Last Jacobite Rising


Character/Date Short Biography

Stuarts

William III
1650–1702
King of Netherlands, called to be king of England when James II, his father-in-law, was deposed.
Anne of England
1665–1714
Last of the Stuart queens, lived during the War of the Spanish Succession.
George I
1660–1727
First Hanoverian Monarch of Britain. Entrusted government to Robert Walpole
Old Pretender
1688–1766
Son of James II, led Jacobites in a bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.
Young Pretender
1720–1788
Grandson of James II, led Jacobites in bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.

Political/Military

Samuel Pepys
1633–1703
Kept a diary during the reign of Charles II; mentions the plague, the great fire, and much else.
Duke of Marlborough
1650–1722
Most renowned general of his age. Prevailed against the French at the Battle of Blenheim.
Robert Walpole
1676–1745
First Prime Minister of Britain. Ran cabinet meetings for George I
Flora MacDonald
1722–1790
Heroine who help Bonnie Prince Charles escape from Scotland.

Arts and Sciences

Isaac Newton
1642–1727
Outstanding scientist. Made important breakthroughs in physics, optics, and mathematics.
Daniel Defoe
1661–1731
Author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders.



Foundation of Empire—1740 to 1815

War of Jenkin's Ear to Napoleonic Wars


Character/Date Short Biography

Monarchs/Statesmen

George I
1660–1727
First Hanoverian Monarch of Britain. Entrusted government to Robert Walpole
George II
1683–1760
Second Hanoverian Monarch of Britain.
George III
1738–1820
Monarch whose long reign encompassed Revolutionary, and Napoleonic Wars.
William Pitt
1708–1778
Statesman who masterminded the rise of the British Empire during the critical 18th century.
William Pitt Jr.
1759–1806
Son of the Earl of Chatham, served between American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
Edmund Burke
1730–1797
Very influential Political Philosopher, whose works are a basis of constitutional law.

Military

General Wolfe
1727–1759
Defeated the French at the Battle of Quebec, giving Canada to Britain. Died during battle.
Lord Anson
1697–1762
British naval hero who circumnavigated the globe and wrote a diary about his journey.
Lord Edward Hawke
1705–1781
Hero of the naval Battle of Quiberon during the Seven Years War.
General Braddock
1695–1755
Led a disastrous campaign to Fort Duquesne (Ohio) during the French and Indian Wars.
General Burgoyne
1723–1792
British leader who surrendered with 6000 men to American forces at Saratoga.
General Cornwallis
1738–1805
British leader defeated at Yorktown in Revolutionary War. Later served as governor in India.
Horatio Nelson
1758–1805
Great Naval hero of his age; victor at the Battle of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar.
Duke of Wellington
1769–1852
Napoleonic war general who fought in Spain and Portugal. Defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
John Moore
1761–1809
Napoleonic War hero who died at the Battle of Coruna.

Arts/Literature

Adam Smith
1723–1790
Leading theorist of modern capitalism. Wrote The Wealth of Nations.
Alexander Pope
1688–1744
Eminent poet and Satirist of the enlightenment era. Wrote Essay on Criticism.
John Wesley
1703–1774
Founder of the evangelical Methodist movement in England. Social reformer.
Jonathan Swift
1667–1745
Poet, essayist, and satirist. Best known as author of Gulliver's Travels.
Samuel Johnson
1709–1784
Eminent literary figure in England. Wrote the first British Dictionary.
Angelica Kaufmann
1741–1807
Eminent European Painter, who lived many years in England.

Heroines

Hannah More
1745–1833
Dedicated her life to helping the poor of England.
Elizabeth Fry
1780–1845
Quaker and prison reformer. Fought for better conditions for inmates.



Height of Empire—1815 to 1902

Battle of Waterloo to Second Boer War


Character/Date Short Biography

Monarchs/Statesmen

Victoria I
1819–1901
Longest reigning English Monarch. Presided over the British Empire at its height.
Robert Peel
1788–1850
Important Victorian Era British prime minister who oversaw several free market and political reforms.
Benjamin Disraeli
1804–1881
Prime Minister, Author, and conservative rival of Gladstone.
William Gladstone
1809–1898
Prime minister and member of the Liberal Party. Opponent of Disraeli.
Charles Parnell
1846–1891
Irish Catholic politician who fought for home rule for Ireland.
Cecil Rhodes
1853–1902
Power broker in South Africa, tried to turn all provinces into a British Colony.

Military

Lord Raglan
1788–1855
Field Marshall of English Forces during the Crimean War.
Henry Havelock
1795–1857
Led a division to relieve Lucknow during the Sepoy Rebellion. Died during the siege.
William Brydon
1811–1873
Surgeon in the Bengal army; sole surviver of the massacre at Khyber pass in Afghanistan.
Charles Gordon
1833–1885
General who defeated the Tai-pings in China, served as governor in Soudan and resisted the Mahdi in Khartoum.
Lord Roberts
1832–1914
Career officer, saw service in Indian Mutiny, Afghanistan, Abyssinia, India and South Africa.
Horatio Kitchener
1850–1916
Military hero of the late 19th century, first in Sudan, and later in the Boer Wars
John Franklin
1786–1847
Explorer of the Artic regions of Canada.

Art and Literature

Sir Walter Scott
1771–1832
Author best known for novels set in Scotland.
Elizabeth Browning
1809–1861
Eminent poet of the Victorian era. Married to Robert Browning.
Charles Dickens
1812–1870
Prolific novelist of the Victorian Era. Wrote David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol and others.
Thomas Carlyle
1795–1881
Popular Victorian age essayist and historian.
Alfred Tennyson
1809–1892
Best known poet of he Victorian Age. Write Idylls of the King and many others.
Rudyard Kipling
1865–1936
Kipling's novel's and poetry are associated with British Imperialism, for good and ill.

Heroines

Grace Darling
1815–1842
British heroine who saved sailors from a ship that crashed on her father's lighthouse.
Florence Nightingale
1820–1910
Nurse who reformed the care of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.




Colonies and Canada—1585 to 1885

Roanoke Colony to Saskatchewan Rebellion


Character/Date Short Biography

Explorers

Humphrey Gilbert
1537–1583
Sea-faring adventurer. Founded the first English colony in Canada.
Martin Frobisher
1535–1594
Explored much of Canada in seach of the Northwest Passage. Fought in the Armada.
John Davis
1550–1605
British explorer who sought the Northwest Passage through Canada.
Henry Hudson
1575–1611
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 Marquette
1637–1675
French Missionary who explored the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes.
Rene La Salle
1643–1687
Dauntless adventurer who followed the Mississippi to its mouth, and claimed all for France.
William Baffin
1585–1622
Discovered Baffin Bay while on a quest to find the Northwest Passage.
George Vancouver
1757–1798
Discovered Puget Sound, Vancouver Island, Columbia River; claimed region for Britain.
Alexander Mackenzie
1764–1820
Discovered the Mackenzie River and Great Northern Lakes of Canada.

French Heroes

Samuel de Champlain
1580–1635
Founded French colonies in the St. Lawrence seaway and great lake region. Father of 'New France.'
Count Frontenac
1622–1698
Governor of New France from 1672 to 1698. Expanded fur trade, and fought with British.
Madeline de Vercheres
1678–1747
Fended off a tribe of Indians attacking her for when she was only fourteen.
Daulac
1635–1660
Led a group of volunteers form Montreal to ambush a force of Iroquois. The entire force was killed to a man.
Isaac Jogues
1607–1646
Heroic Jesuit missionary to Indians. Tortured by the Indians, but returned to preach the gospel.
General Montcalm
1712–1759
Military leader of New France during the Seven Year War; died at Battle of Quebec.

British Heroes

General Braddock
1695–1755
Led a disastrous campaign to Fort Duquesne (Ohio) during the French and Indian Wars.
General Wolfe
1727–1759
Defeated the French at the Battle of Quebec, giving Canada to Britain. Died during battle.
Lord Durham
1792–1840
Helped draft the Reform bill of 1832. Then recommended a form of self government for Canada.
Lord Selkirk
1771–1820
Obtained a land grand near Red River valley and help poor Scottish pioneers settle there.
Laura Secord
1775–1868
During War of 1812, warned a British Lieutenant of an impending surprise attack.

Native Heroes

Tecumseh
1768–1813
Shawnee Hero. Tried to unify tribes against the colonists. Fought for Britain during War of 1812.
Louis Riel
1844–1885
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


Character/Date Short Biography

Early India

Mahmud of Ghazni
971–1030
Moslem general who invaded India in the 11th century. Destroyed temples, collected tribute, then left.
Mohammed Ghori
1162–1206
Moslem general who invaded India in the late 12th century. Massacred thousands of Hindus.

Portuguese India: 1497-1580

Vasco da Gama
1460–1524
Portuguese explorer who voyaged to Calicut, India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Francisco de Almeida
1450–1510
Portuguese general who served in the wars against Granada, and was appointed the first governor of Portuguese India.
Alfonso de Albuquerque
1453–1515
Portuguese commander who won numerous naval conflicts in Asia and helped establish a colony in India at Goa.

Mughal Empire: 1526-1739

Baber
1483–1530
Founder of the Moghul empire in India.
Humayun
1508–1556
Second of the Indian Mogul dynasty, and father of Akbar. Lost his kingdom but regained it with Persian help.
Akbar the Great
1542–1605
Reconquered, unified and expanded the Mughal Empire.
Jehanjir
1569–1627
Son of Akbar, and Great Mogul of India when the British first tried to establish trading posts in the region.
Nur Jehan
1577–1645
Favorite wife of Emperor Jahangir. Engaged in much legendary palace intrigue.
Aurangzeb
1618–1707
Moslem ruler of largely Hindu India. Consolidated the Mughal empire, but oppressed Hindus.
Shivaji
1630–1689
Founder of the Maratha emperor. Resisted the Moghul ruler under Aurangzeb.
Nadir Shuh
1688–1747
Great Persian General who attacked the Moghuls in India, and massacred civilians.
Muhammad Shah
1702–1748
Ruler of the Moghul Empire in India, when it was over-run by Nadir Shah of Persia.
Connaji Angria
d. 1729
Pirate prince who controlled the Malabar coast of India. His base at Geriah was attacked by Popock in 1756
Baji Rao I
1699–1740
Most famous Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy. Extended the Maratha kingdom to its greatest range.

Early British Era: 1740-1814

Dupleix
1697–1763
Governor of the French trading company in India; rival of Clive for control of Bengal;
Mir Jafar
1691–1765
Succeed to the position of Nawab of Bengal after Clive won the Battle of Plassey.
Robert Clive
1725–1774
British soldier, who rose to be a hero in the Carnatic Wars and delivered Bengal to Britain at the Battle of Plassey.
Siraj Ud Daulah
1733–1757
Last independent Nawab of Bengal. Lost his kingdom to Clive at Plassey.
Tipu Sultan
1750–1799
Took over the Mysore Kingdom on the death of his father Hyder Ali. Fought the British in a series of Anglo-Mysore wars.
Warren Hastings
1732–1818
Early Governor of India. Was tried for corruption, but acquitted after a lengthy trial.
Mir Cossim
d. 1777
Son-in-law of Mir Jafar, who was raised to the Nawabship by the British, but rebelled against them.
Mahadaji Sindhia
1730–1794
Leader of the Sindhias of Gwalior. Fought at Panipat. Exceptional General who defeated British at Wargaom.
Hyder Ali
1722–1782
Muslim Ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in Southern India. Allied with the French against the British.
Tipu Sultan
1750–1799
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 Hoklar
d. 1811
Leader of the Holkars of Idore. Fought Britain in the First and Second Maratha Wars.
Sindhia of Gwalior
1779–1827
Leader of the Sindhias of Gwalior. Fought Britain in the Second and Third Maratha Wars.
Lord Amherst
1773–1857
British ambassador to China, and then governor of India. Fought first Burmese War.
William Brydon
1811–1873
Surgeon in the Bengal army; sole surviver of the massacre at Khyber pass in Afghanistan.
Henry Havelock
1795–1857
Led a division to relieve Lucknow during the Sepoy Rebellion. Died during the siege.
Lord Dalhousie
1812–1860
Made major reforms and increased British holding in India, shortly before the mutiny.
Colin Campbell
1792–1863
Commanded the Highland Brigade during the Crimean War. Also served in India.
James Outram
1803–1863
Hero of the sieges of Cawnpore and Lucknow during the Sepoy Rebellion.
Lord Roberts
1832–1914
Career officer, saw service in Indian Mutiny, Afghanistan, Abyssinia, India and South Africa.
Marquess Wellesley
1760–1842
Governor-general of India, fought Second Maratha and Mysore wars. Later, promoted Catholic emancipation.
Nana Sahib
1824–1859
Adopted son of the Marthi Peshwar. Leader of the Indian Mutiny.
Baji Rao II
d. 1851
Peshwa who fled to Britain for protection after loss to one of his enemies
Ranjit Singh
1780–1839
Sikh emperor of the Punjab. Ruled the Punjab well, as an independent state until his death.

Afghans, Burmese, Gurkhas, etc.

Alombra the Hunter
1714–1760
Burmese King. Founder of the Konbaung dynasty which bordered on Bengal.
Dost Muhammed
1793–1863
Afghan ruler during the first Anglo-Afghan War
Siddhartha Gautama
563–483 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


Character/Date Short Biography

Explorers

Edward Bruce
1275–1318
Declared himself king of Ireland and led a rebellion against the English governors of Ireland.
Mungo Park
1771–1806
Explorer of the Niger river area in Africa.
Hugh Clapperton
1788–1827
Explored Sub-Saharan Africa. Discovered Lake Chad.
John Hanning Speke
1827–1864
Explored, with Burton, the Great lakes region of Africa.
David Livingstone
1813–1873
As a medical missionary, he explored uncharted regions of the interior of Africa.
Richard Burton
1821–1890
Explored, with Speke, the Great lakes region of Africa. Also translated Arabian Nights.
H. M. Stanley
1841–1904
Met Livingstone in African, then continued his explorations. Followed the Congo river to the sea.
Paul du Chaillu
1835–1903
Adventurer who explored equatorial Africa for six years, and tried to cross the continent.

Dutch/Boer Heroes

Jan van Riebeck
1619–1677
Founder and first Governor of the Dutch settlement at Cape Town, South Africa.
Simon van der Stel
1639–1712
First Governor-General of Dutch East India company's colony at Cape town.
Pieter Retief
1780–1838
Leader of Boers during the Great Trek. Murdered by Dingaan during negotiations.
Andries Pretorius
1798–1853
Leader of Boers who avenged death of Piet Retief, and formed the Transvaal Republic.
Paul Kruger
1825–1904
Boer leader who resisted British rule, and was president of the Transvaal Republic.
Louis Botha
1862–1919
Boer Hero during the Second Boer War. First Prime Minister of South Africa.

British Heroes

Harry Smith
1787–1860
Notable British military commander who served in the Peninsular War and afterward India and South Africa.
George Goldie
1846–1925
British administrator who created a trading company to secure Britain's claim to Nigeria.
George Grey
1812–1898
Governor of South Australia, Cape Colony, and New Zealand.
Cecil Rhodes
1853–1902
Power broker in South Africa, tried to turn all provinces into a British Colony.
Robert Baden-Powell
1857–1941
British general who defended city of Mafeking during the Boer War. Later founded the Boy Scout movement.
Dr. Jameson
1852–1917
South African statemen responsible for the failed 'Jameson Raid' on the Dutch Republic.
Horatio Kitchener
1850–1916
Military hero of the late 19th century, first in Sudan, and later in the Boer Wars

Native Heroes

Chaka
1781–1828
Chieftain who oversaw the Zulu's rise to power, and domination over a large region of S. Africa.
Dingan
1795–1840
Ruled Zulus after assassinating Shaka. Murdered Boer leaders leading to Zulu-Boer War.
Cetewayo
1826–1884
Leader of the Zulus during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Egypt/Sudan

Mehemet Ali
1769–1848
Albanian officer in the Turkish army who overthrew the Mamelukes in Egypt. Established his own dynasty. Cooperated with the British.
Arabi Pasha
1839–1911
Leader of an insurrectionary movement in Egypt in 1882
Mahdi
1844–1885
Raised an army of Rebel Muslim Sudanese. Caused widespread carnage. Besieged Khartoum.
The Khalifa
1846–1899
Succeeded as leader of the Mahdists on the death of Mahdi. Fought Kitchener at Omdurman.
Charles Gordon
1833–1885
General who defeated the Tai-pings in China, served as governor in Soudan and resisted the Mahdi in Khartoum.



Australia—1770 to 1907

Voyage of Captain Cook to Galipolli


Character/Date Short Biography

Explorers

Abel Tasman
1603–1659
Visited Formosa and Japan, discovered Tasmania and New Zealand
William Dampier
1651–1715
English explorer who circumnavigated the globe three times, and discovered Australia and other islands in the South Pacific.
Captain Cook
1728–1779
Discovered Australia and New Zealand. Helped establish colonies there.
George Bass
1771–1803
Naturalist and Surgeon, who with Flinders, explored Botany Bay and Van Diemen's Land.
Matthew Flinders
1774–1814
Naval Captain, circumnavigated Australia and explored inner regions.

Australian Heroes

Ernest Rutherford
1871–1937
Father of nuclear physics. Advocated the orbital theory of the atom.
Arthur Philip
1738–1814
First Governor of New South Wales penal colony in Australia. Led colony through various difficulties.
William Bligh
1754–1817
British naval Captain who served as an unpopular governor of Australia. Famous for Mutiny on the Bounty.
Ned Kelly
1854–1880
Bushranger of Irish heritage who became a folk hero among Irish Catholic Australians.
John McArthur
1767–1834
British officer who introduced sheep farming and made Australia a leading wool producing region.
Breaker Morant
1864–1902
Australian horseman, poet, soldier, and folk-hero who was executed by the British for misconduct during the Boer Wars.

New Zealand Heroes

Samuel Marsden
1764–1838
Early settler in Australia and missionary to the Maori's in New Zealand.
William Hobson
1792–1842
British Captain who served as the first governor of New Zealand and negotiated the Treaty of Waitangi with natives.
Edward Wakefield
1796–1862
Organized early settlements in Australia and New Zealand.
George Grey
1812–1898
Governor of South Australia, Cape Colony, and New Zealand.
Hongi Hika
1772–1828
Maori chief who purchased weapons from the British and led his tribe to domination during the Musket Wars.
Hone Heke
1810–1850
Maori chief who resisted British rule, and instigated the Flagstaff War.



Science and Invention—1660 to 1914

Isaac Newton to Modern Warfare


Character/Date Short Biography

Science - Astronomy

Tycho Brahe
1546–1601
Made accurate astronomical observations, used by Kepler to calculate motion of planets.
Johannes Kepler
1571–1630
Proposed Heliocentric theory after studying measurements of Tycho Brahe.
Galileo Galilei
1564–1642
Promoted Heliocentric theory against pressure from the Pope. Invented the telescope.
Isaac Newton
1642–1727
Outstanding scientist. Made important breakthroughs in physics, optics, and mathematics.
William Herschel
1738–1822
Astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus, improved telescopes, and made many other discoveries.

Science - Physics/Chemistry

Antoine Lavoisier
1743–1794
French scientist, known as the "Father of Chemistry". Discovered oxygen and established the principle of conservation of mass.
John Dalton
1766–1844
Chemist who proposed the atomic theory, and designed experiments to prove it.
Lord Kelvin
1824–1907
Made important discoveries in thermodynamics and electricity.
J. J. Thomson
1856–1940
Discovered the electron, and also the isotope.
Madame Curie
1867–1934
A pioneer in the field of radioactivity, and first female winner of the Nobel prize in physics.
Ernest Rutherford
1871–1937
Father of nuclear physics. Advocated the orbital theory of the atom.

Science - Biology/Geology

Carolus Linnaeus
1707–1778
Great Taxonomist, who initiated naming conventions and classification of plants and animals.
Charles Lyell
1797–1875
Influential 19th century Geologist who promoted the idea of doctrine of uniformitarianism (as opposed to catastrophism.)
Charles Darwin
1809–1882
Proposed the theory of evolution of species. Wrote The Descent of Man.

Electromagnetism/Communication

Alexander Volta
1745–1827
Invented the first usable electrical storage battery.
Samuel Morse
1791–1872
Inventor of Morse code, a system telegraph transmission widely used before the telephone.
Michael Faraday
1791–1867
Physicist who was important in the development of electricity and magnetism.
James Clerk Maxwell
1831–1879
Developed laws defining the behavior of electricity and magnetism.
Alexander Graham Bell
1847–1922
Inventor of the telephone, and also a founder of a school for the deaf.
Thomas Edison
1847–1931
Prolific inventor, responsible for improvements in the light bulb, movies, phonograph, and many others.
Guglielmo Marconi
1874–1937
Inventor of a wireless telegraphy system, first used on ships.

Medicine

William Harvey
1578–1657
Medical doctor who described the process of circulation and the role of the heart and blood.
Edward Jenner
1749–1823
English doctor who developed a vaccine for smallpox.
Louis Pasteur
1822–1895
Renowned scientist in bacteriology. Helped develop germ theory of disease and pasteurization process.
Joseph Lister
1827–1912
Promoted the idea of sterilization using antiseptics to kill germs on wounds and medical instruments.
Alexander Fleming
1881–1895
Scottish biologist who studied bacteria and discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin.

Textiles

James Hargreaves
1720–1778
Inventor of an automated Spinning wheel. Founder of the Industrial Revolution.
Richard Arkwright
1732–1792
Inventor of the spinning frame, which allowed water or steam power to spin cloth.
Samuel Crompton
1753–1827
Inventor of the Spinning Mule, which could be used to make fine cloth such as Muslin.
Eli Whitney
1765–1825
Inventor of the Cotton Gin, and also interchangeable parts for rifles.
Elias Howe
1819–1867
American inventor of the sewing machine. His great innovation was the "lock stitch".

Industry

James Watt
1736–1819
Inventor of the Steam Engine, and founder of the Industrial Revolution.
Robert Fulton
1765–1815
Inventor of Steamboats. Operated the steamboat Clermont on the Hudson River.
George Stephenson
1781–1848
Inventor of the steam locamotive, and the modern railroad.
Charles Goodyear
1800–1860
Discovered the process for 'vulcanizing' rubber, and making it far more usable.
Cyrus McCormick
1809–1884
Invented the mechanical reaper, which revolutionized agriculture, especially in midwest.
Henry Bessemer
1813–1898
Invented a process for the manufacture of steel, that was of superior quality for a low cost.
Rudolf Diesel
1858–1913
German engineer and inventor who developed a practical internal combustion 'diesel' engine.
Wilber and Orville
1871–1948
Inventors of the first practical airplane. The Wright brothers were self-educated bicycle shop owners.