Famous People from Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely

Thomas Clarkson

These are dedicated to various people born, educated or resident in Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely who have achieved fame for one reason or another.

Many people were educated at Cambridge University and for that reason it has been given its own section.

"The famous men and women associated with the county are of two kinds, those born there and those who came to learn and teach at the university. The roll of fame of Cambridge is immense, and it may be said that as Oxford was the home of lost causes Cambridge was for the most part the nursery of the new, whether in matters of faith, learning, or affairs of State. Erasmus and Coverdale, Latimer and Ridley and Cranmer, Cromwell and Milton, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, Clerk-Maxwell and Kelvin and Darwin, Wordsworth and Coleridge and Byron, Tennyson and Macaulay - all had much of that spirit which urged the world forward, and all are Cambridge men.

Her natives are an interesting group. Sir John Cheke was a pioneer of the New Learning. Thomas Tenison of Cottenham was one of the Seven Bishops who defied James the Second and sounded the doom of the Stuarts. Wisbech gave to the world Clarkson who fought the slave trade and Octavia Hill fought the slums. Jeremy Taylor, a Cambridge tailor's son, taught men how to live and how to die. Among other Camridgeshire writers were Matthew Paris of Hildersham, most famous of all our chroniclers; Jeremy Collier of Stow-cum-Quy who attacked a debased stage and wrote an Ecclesiastical History; Richard Cumberland, dramatist, and William Whithead, Poet Laureate, both born at Cambridge. Cambridge had a Puritan mayor who gave, a phrase to the English language, Hobson's choice; he let out horses and every hirer had to take them in strict rotation, having no choice but Hobson's. Henry Cromwell, most illustrious of the Protector's sons, was born at Wicken, and another famous Puritan was *Francis Holcroft, who covered the county with his preaching at the time John Bunyan was doing the same for Bedfordshire. And who, recalling the associations of men and women with this proud county, can forget Samuel Pepys, who was educated here and left to his university his immortal Diary and 3000 books."

[Extract taken from Arthur Mee's Cambridgeshire, first published in 1939, reprinted 1943.
Published by Hodder and Stoughton Limited

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