List of people from Plymouth

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People from the English city of Plymouth are known as Plymothians or less formally as Janners.[1] The definition of Janner is described as a person from Devon, deriving from Cousin Jan (the Devon form of John), but more particularly in naval circles anyone from the Plymouth area.[2] The Elizabethan navigator, Sir Francis Drake was born in nearby town of Tavistock and was the mayor of Plymouth.[3] He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world and was known by the Spanish as El Draco meaning "The Dragon" after he raided many of their ships.[4] He died of dysentery in 1596 off the coast of Panama.[5] In 2002 a mission to recover his body and bring it to Plymouth was allowed by the Ministry of Defence.[6] Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Frank Bickerton both lived in the city.[7][8]

Many artists have originated in Plymouth. Joshua Reynolds, the famous 18th-century portrait painter and the first president of the Royal Academy was born in Plympton, and more recently artists have included Beryl Cook whose paintings depict the culture of Plymouth[9] and Robert Lenkiewicz, whose paintings looked at themes such as: vagrancy, sexual behaviour and suicide, lived in the city from the 1960s until his death in 2002.[10] In addition, George Passmore of Turner Prize winning duo Gilbert & George was born in the city.[11] Famous politicians Michael Foot and David Owen are from Plymouth and notable athletes include swimmer Sharron Davies,[12] diver Tom Daley,[13] dancer Wayne Sleep,[14] and footballer Trevor Francis.[15] Other past residents include composer Ron Goodwin,[16] and journalist Angela Rippon.[17]

Famous People[edit]

Image Name Born Died Notability Notes
John Hawkins.JPG Sir John Hawkins 1532 1595 naval commander and administrator, merchant, navigator, shipbuilder and privateer Born 1532 Plymouth, died 12 November 1596 at sea off Puerto Rico
1590 or later Marcus Gheeraerts, Sir Francis Drake Buckland Abbey, Devon.jpg Sir Francis Drake 1540 1596 First English person to circumnavigate the world Born in Tavistock and was the mayor of Plymouth. He died of dysentery off the coast of Panama and was slipped overboard inside a lead casket.[18]
William Cookworthy William Cookworthy 1705 1780 Pharmacist/Industrialist Born in Kingsbridge, Devon. Pioneered porcelain manufacture in Plymouth.[19][20]
Major-General Sir George Arthur.jpg Sir George Arthur, 1st Baronet 1784 1854 Colonial governor Spent most of his time in British colonies.[21]
WilliamBligh.jpeg William Bligh 1754 1817 Naval Officer and Colonial Administrator Born in Plymouth baptised in St Andrew's Church
(no known portrait)
William Elford Leach MD, FRS 1791 1836 Naturalist at the British Museum Virtually solely responsible for the modernisation of British zoology in the early 19th century, which laid the foundations for Charles Darwin.
Jonathan Nash Hearder 1809 1876 Electrical engineer Born and died in Plymouth. Notable for the development of the induction coil.[22]
William Henry Wills.jpg William Henry Wills 1810 1880 Journalist and newspaper editor Close friend of Charles Dickens, Wills was the subeditor of Household Words and All the Year Round
Robert Julian Scott 1861 1930 Emeritus Professor of Engineering, Canterbury University, New Zealand Notable for the creation of New Zealand's first indigenous steam buggy in 1881 and the development of Canterbury University's school of engineering. Cousin of Robert Falcon Scott.
Scott of the Antarctic crop.jpg Robert Falcon Scott 1868 1912 Antarctic explorer Died in central Antarctica. His body was found eight months later.[7]
Philip Jacks 1877 1941 Hong Kong colonial administrator Wrote Digest of Instructions From the Secretary of State For the Colonies (With Local Rulings) Regarding Disposal and Tenure of Land in the Colony of Hong Kong (1930).
Isaac Foot 1880 1960 President of the Liberal Party He was president in 1947.[23]
Frank Bickerton 1889 1954 Antarctic explorer Moved to Plymouth at the age of six and lived there until 1920.[8]
Robert Victor Walling 1890 1976 Soldier, journalist, and poet Born and educated in Plymouth. In peacetime he worked as a journalist with Plymouth-based newspaper The Western Daily Mercury. He was also a member of Gorseth Kernow.[24]
Joe Symonds 1894 1953 Boxer Born in Plymouth, Symonds held the British, European and IBU World flyweight boxing titles in the 1910s.
Michael Foot 1913 2010 Leader of the Labour Party Son of Isaac Foot.[25]
Richard Greene 1918 1985 Film and television actor Born in Plymouth died in Norfolk aged 66. A Matinée idol appearing in over 40 films, he is perhaps best known for his role in the TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Duncan Scott-Ford 1921 1942 Merchant seaman Hung during World War II for treachery to the Germans.[26]
Beryl Cook 1926 2008 Comical artist Born in Epsom, Surrey.[9]
Chris Dawson accepts his Ernst & Young awards.jpg Chris Dawson 1952 Alive Businessman and founder of the retail chain The Range Born in Plymouth 15 February 1952
Lewis Pugh (1969-12-05) 5 December 1969 (age 49) Alive First person to undertake a long distance swim in every ocean of the world.
Liam Mooney (1972-05-18) 18 May 1972 (age 47) Alive Entrepreneur Born in Gosport, Hampshire
Lisa Cross (1978-04-04) 4 April 1978 (age 41) Alive IFBB professional bodybuilder Born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Laura James (1987-01-25) 25 January 1987 (age 32) Alive Professional wrestler Wrestled for Impact Wrestling and Dramatic Dream Team; former 5-time DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion. Also appeared in the Netflix series GLOW. Married to American professional wrestler Joey Ryan.
Kate Nesbitt c. 1988 (age 30–31) Alive Medical Assistant in the Royal Navy Raised in Whitleigh, the first female recipient of the Military Cross in the Royal Navy, for bravery during the War in Afghanistan in March 2009.[27]
Tom Daley (diver), October 2008.jpg Tom Daley (1994-05-21) 21 May 1994 (age 25) Alive Olympic diver BBC Sports Personality of the Year Young Personality in 2007.[28]
Rūta Meilutytė portrait.jpg Rūta Meilutytė (1997-03-19) 19 March 1997 (age 22) Alive Olympic swimmer Won gold in the 100 meter breaststroke at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London.[29] Meilutyté is also the world record holder in the 100 breaststroke (short course), and the 50, and 100 meter breaststroke (long course)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anger over slave trader pub name". BBC. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  2. ^ Tawney, Cyril (1987). Grey Funnel Lines: Traditional Song & Verse of the Royal Navy, 1900-1970. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-7102-1270-2.
  3. ^ "Sir Francis Drake". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  4. ^ Rasor, Eugene (2004). English/British Naval History to 1815: A Guide to the Literature. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 190. ISBN 0-313-30547-1. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
  5. ^ "Sir Francis Drake (c.1540 - c.1596)". BBC. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  6. ^ "Mission to rescue Drake's body". BBC. 12 November 2001. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Robert Falcon Scott". BBC. Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  8. ^ a b "Antarctic explorer Frank Bickerton". BBC. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Painter Beryl Cook dies aged 81". BBC. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  10. ^ "Controversial artist". BBC. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  11. ^ "Gilbert & George". Britannica Online Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  12. ^ "New centre to honour Plymouth Olympian Sharron Davies". Plymouth City Council. 14 March 2007. Archived from the original on 30 March 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Thomas Daley Biography". The British Olympic Association. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  14. ^ "About Sleep". Wayne Sleep's website. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  15. ^ "England Players - Trevor Francis". England Football Online. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Plymouth's movie maestro". BBC. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  17. ^ "The talented Angela Rippon". This Is Hampshire. 19 August 2000. Archived from the original on 25 July 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  18. ^ "Sir Francis Drake". BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  19. ^ Mackenna, F. S. (1947) Cookworthy's Plymouth and Bristol Porcelain
  20. ^ Penderill-Church, John (1972) William Cookworthy 1705-1780: a study of the pioneer of true porcelain manufacture in England. Truro: Bradford Barton
  21. ^ Lewers, Alan George (1980). Sir George Arthur, Bart, 1784-1854. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84195-3. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
  22. ^ Hearder, Ian G. (September 2004). "Hearder, Jonathan Nash (1809–1876)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  23. ^ Goodman, Stanley (2004), ‘Foot, Isaac (1880–1960)’, rev. Mark Pottle, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2007 accessed 12 June 2008
  24. ^ Who was who among English and European authors, 1931-1949. An Omnigraphics book Gale composite biographical dictionary series; no. 2. Gale Research Co. 1978. ISBN 0-8103-0400-7.
  25. ^ Chavda, Jayant (4 March 2007). "Michael Foot 1980-1983". The Labour History Group. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  26. ^ Stratford, Stephen. "British Military & Criminal History in the period 1900 to 1999: Duncan Scott-Ford". Stephen's Study Room. Archived from the original on 13 January 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  27. ^ "Navy woman awarded Military Cross". BBC News. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  28. ^ "Thomas Daley Biography". The British Olympic Association. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  29. ^ Walker, Peter; Bull, Andy (30 July 2012). "Ruta Meilutyte grabs a gold for Lithuania". The Guardian. London.