Famous Theologians and Philosophers in U.K.
Francis Bacon (1561-1621)
philosopher, writer, statesman and pioneer of empiricism. Bacon was born in London in 1561, studied various subjects in Cambridge from the age of 14 and lived with his brother Anthony, who later became a spy. He left behind many valuable philosophical and legal writings. The saying “knowledge is power” comes from Bacon. He died in Highgate in 1621.
Roger Bacon (1214-1292 or 1294)
Franciscan monk and philosopher. Bacon was born near Illchester in 1214 and studied at Oxford University, where he also briefly taught. He later went to Paris University to teach in Europe’s intellectual center. In history he is an advocate pioneer of empirical methods. Bacon became a Franciscan monk at an advanced age and eventually died in Oxford. He was called “Doctor Mirabilis” – “wonderful teacher”.
James Beattie (1735-1803)
philosopher and writer. James Beattie was born in 1735 in Laurencekirk, the son of a small farmer. He studied at the University of Aberdeen and belonged to the philosophical direction of the Common Sense (“common sense”) – also called The Scottish School. He took a highly subjective point of view. Beattie, who also always campaigned against slavery and also acted as a romantic writer, died in Aberdeen in 1803.
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
philosopher, social reformer, lawyer. Jeremy Bentham was born in Spitalfields in 1748 to a lawyer and studied at Oxford. He was considered a radical and campaigned for women’s suffrage and also for freedom of the press. He also called for the abolition of the penalty for homosexuality and was a spearhead of utilitarianism. Democracy was also very important to him. Bentham, who usually thought far ahead of his time, died in London in 1832.
Lady Anne Conway (1631-1679)
The philosopher was born Anne Fich in London in 1631 and spent her childhood in what is now Kensington Palace. During her short life, she maintained an intensive philosophical exchange with the Platonist Henry More. Jewish Kabbalah, Quakerism and the teachings of Descartes shaped Conway’s views. With her debut and only work called “The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy” she exerted a significant influence on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Conway died in her native town in 1679.
Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688)
philosopher and theologian. Ralph Cudworth was born in Somerset in 1617, the son of a minister. After studying in Cambridge, he was given a chair in Hebrew studies and was henceforth titled Regius Professor. Cudworth belonged to the Cambridge Platonists and placed emphasis on human free will in his studies. His epistemology was based on the concept of relation. Cudworth died in Cambridge in 1688.
Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)
moral philosopher, historian, sociologist. Adam Ferguson was born near Perth in 1723 and studied at the University of St. Andrews. The enlightener and sociology co-founder was later appointed professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Man’s striving for perfection was the core of his philosophical considerations. Ferguson died in St. Andrews in 1816.
Andreas Gordon (1712-1751)
theologian, physicist, philosopher. Andrew George Gordon was born into a noble family in Cofforach in 1712. Gordon first became a priest. After numerous studies in Salzburg and Rome, among others, he was appointed to Erfurt as a philosophy professor. He has written several works, including “Phaenomena electricitatis exposita” (1744). Gordon died in Erfurt in 1751, where today a school and a street are named after him.
John Graham (1794-1865)
Bishop of Chester, English academic and tutor to Charles Darwin. Graham was born in Claypath in 1794 and educated at Cambridge. In the university town he was appointed deacon in 1818, later head of Christ College and from 1834 vice chancellor of the university. He was Charles Darwin’s tutor during his studies. In 1848 Graham became Bishop of Chester. He died there in 1865.
Patrick Hamilton (1504-1528)
theologian. Patrick Hamilton was born in Linlithgow in 1504 to wealthy parents. He studied in Paris and traveled to Marburg to meet Martin Luther. Hamilton wrote a kind of Lutheran Small Catechism for Scotland, which was widely used. Thereupon he became a martyr because he was sentenced to death and burned as a heretic. Hamilton died in St. Andrews in 1528.
John Harvard (1607-1638)
English-American theologian. Harvard was born in London in 1607 and studied at Cambridge. Five years later he moved to America with his wife and became a Doctor of the Church. He died in Massachusetts in 1638 and bequeathed half his fortune and his library to an educational institution. Harvard University was named after him to show its gratitude for the donation, which in turn paved the way for the university system in the USA.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
philosopher and state theorist. Hobbes was born in Westport in 1588, the son of a minister. Recognized as a child prodigy, he studied at Oxford University at the age of 17. Hobbes most famous work is “Leviathan”, which contains his theory of absolutism. He also dealt intensively with egoism and represented it. He died in Hardwick Hall in 1679.
Henry Home (1696-1782)
philosopher and lawyer. Henry Home Kames was born in Berwickshire in 1696. His later mentors included Adam Smith and David Hume. “Principles of Criticism” was his main work, which was to inspire Johann Gottfried von Herder significantly. He co-founded the Royal Society of Edinburgh – Scotland’s Academy of Sciences. He also served as a judge at the Scottish Civil Court. Home died in 1782.
David Hume (1711-1766)
philosopher, historian. David Hume was born in Edinburgh in 1711 and became one of the most famous Scottish philosophers. The child of nobles studied law and dealt intensively with philosophy, especially that of the Stoics. Hume is one of the great scouts. Knowledge of people, which they gain from experience, formed the core of his point of view. “A Treatise on Human Nature” is one of his important writings. Hume, who was a close friend of Adam Smith and greatly inspired Kant, died in his native town in 1766.
Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)
Anglican clergyman, theologian, and writer. Kingsley was born in Devon in 1819. He studied in London and Cambridge. He later taught at Cambridge, was chaplain to Queen Victoria from 1859 and became a decade later to the canons of Chester and Westminster Abbey (1873). As a writer, he excelled in particular with the children’s book “Die Wasserkinder”. Kingsley died in Hampshire in 1875.
John Knox (1505-1572)
The Scottish reformer John Knox was initially a preacher in Berwick-upon-Tweed and a supporter of Calvin. He worked on the creation of the “Geneva Bible” and became enemies with the Stuarts by publishing two works called “The Appellation of John Knox and an Admonition to England and Scotland” and “The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women “. Although he was ostracized by the Queen on his return from Geneva, the people received him and his ideas enthusiastically. A treason trial against him ended in an acquittal and four years later the Queen was deposed, in which Knox was instrumental.
Hugh Latimer (ca.1485/1492-1555)
bishop and Anglican martyr. Latimer was born a farmer’s son in Leicestershire between 1485 and 1492 and later studied at Cambridge for his academic achievements. Latimer was appointed university minister in 1522. He was a radical advocate of the Reformation, supported the planned divorce from Henry VIII and made many enemies. Latimer was made Bishop of Rochester and Worcester, but was eventually executed under Mary I at Oxford in 1555.
J..B. Lightfoot (1828-1889)
Anglican Bishop of Durham and British theologian. Joseph Barber Lightfoot was born in Liverpool in 1828. He studied at Cambridge and later became a Fellow and Professor at Trinity College. In 1866 he became a Whitehall preacher, in 1871 a canon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and finally in 1879 Bishop of Durham. Lightfoot researched the Bible using new methods before he died in Bournemouth in 1889.
John Locke (1632-1704)
philosopher, psychologist, educator, father of liberalism. John Locke was born in Wrington in 1632. His father was a lawyer. Locke studied medicine and philosophy at Oxford and advanced to become one of the trend-setting representatives of empiricism in Great Britain. The member of the London Royal Society left behind several works, including “Two Treatises of Government” (1690) among the most important. Locke, who exerted great influence during his lifetime, including the American Declaration of Independence, died in Oates in 1704.
Johann Machabeus (shortly before or after 1500-1557)
theologian, reformer. Johann Machabeus was born as John Mac Alpine in the lap of nobles around the beginning of the 16th century. He studied theology and heard lectures from Martin Luther in Germany. He later followed the call to Copenhagen as professor of theology. Machabeus died in the Danish capital in 1557.
James Mill (1773-1836)
theologian, philosopher, historian, economist. James Mill was born in Forfarshire in 1773 and studied theology. He initially worked as a priest, later devoted himself to politics, but also to philosophy. He is seen as an ambitious advocate of utilitarianism. Together with Bentham, he campaigned for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Mill, who was the father of the famous John Stuart Mill, died in Kensington in 1836.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
philosopher, sociologist, economist. John Stuart Mill was born in Pentonville in 1806 as a descendant of the philosopher James Mill. Even as a teenager he dealt with a wide variety of doctrines such as logic and metaphysics. In his philosophy, the principle of experience plays the decisive role in gaining knowledge. The term dystopia (as opposed to utopia) also goes back to him. Mill became one of the most influential positivists of his century. Mill died in Avignon in 1873.
Henry More (1614-1687)
philosopher, poet. Henry More was born into a wealthy family in Grantham in 1614 and later studied at Eton. He led the group of the Cambridge Platonists. The core of his philosophy was the immortality of the soul. After intensive correspondence with the philosopher Anne Consway, he dedicated his book “Antidote against Atheism”, which came out in 1653, to her. Many other writings against materialism and atheism were published by him. More died in Cambridge in 1687.
St. Mungo (6th century)
In the 6th century the Christian missionary St. Mungo, who was also known as St. Kentigern, built a church on the small brook Molendinar Burn, which became the nucleus of the later town. He is the patron saint and legendary founder of the city of Glasgow. His biography is uncertain, nor is it clear to what extent the stories that are told about him are true. He is said to have performed numerous miracles, which are still depicted on the city’s coat of arms today.
Wilhelm von Ockham (about 1285-1347)
English philosopher and theologian. Wilhelm von Ockham was born in Ockham around 1285 and trained in the Franciscan order. He studied theology at Oxford University. He left behind writings on natural philosophy and theological as well as works on logic and politics. Von Ockham is considered one of the leading exponents of nominalism.
Matthew Parker (1504-1575)
Archbishop of Canterbury and Reformer of England. Parker was born in Norwich in 1504. He studied at Cambridge and became a deacon, then a priest in 1527 and finally Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559. During his career he was strongly influenced by the so-called Cambridge Reformers, whose chaplain he was appointed after Anne Boleyn was put on the throne. Parker died in Lambeth in 1575.
Thomas Reid (1710-1796)
Philosophical founder of the common sense direction. Thomas Reid was born in Strachan in 1710 and studied in Aberdeen, where he later taught. In 1764 his work “An Inquiry Into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense” was published, with which he laid the cornerstone of his philosophy of common sense. Reid, who is considered a great enlightener, also taught at the University of Glasgow. Reid died in Glasgow in 1796.
Nicholas Ridley (c. 1500-1555)
Bishop of Rochester and Anglican martyr. Ridley was born into a distinguished family in Northumberland around 1500 and studied at Cambridge. As a priest-professor he temporarily moved to Paris and a few years after his return became the highest proctor of the University of Cambridge. In 1547, Ridley was ordained Bishop of Rochester. He was executed under Maria I in 1555 – along with Hugh Latimer.
Lord Robert Runcie (1921-2000)
Archbishop of Canterbury 1980-1991. Robert Runcie was born in Liverpool in 1921 as the son of an electrical engineer. He studied Ancient History and Literature at Oxford during World War II and volunteered for combat. Runcie became a priest in the early 1950s. In 1980 Margaret Thatcher named him Archbishop of Canterbury. Runcie wed the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana in 1981.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
philosopher, mathematician, logician. Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell was born in Trellech in 1872 and advanced to become one of the founders of analytic philosophy. He had aristocratic roots and studied at Cambridge. Russell advocated pacifism. He also wrote one of the most important works of his century on mathematical foundations – the “Principia Mathematica”. Co-authored by Alfred N. Whitehead. Russell, who taught in Cambridge, Beijing and Harvard, died in 1970 in Penrhyndeudraeth.
John of Salisbury (ca.1115-1180)
theologian, scholastic. John of Salisbury was born in England around 1115 and received his training from the famous Pierre Abélard in Paris, who made a significant contribution to making Salisbury one of the most popular theologians of his time. He is also seen as a thought leader in the English Enlightenment. One of his role models was Aristotle. Von Salisbury died in Chartres in 1180.
Johannes Duns Scotu (about 1266-1308)
philosopher and scholastic theologian. Duns Scotu was born in Duns, Scotland, around 1266. After his ordination he studied and taught at the universities of Oxford, Paris and Cologne. He is considered a representative of nominalism and astutely championed the idea that reason depends on the will. Duns Scotu died in 1308. In 1992 Pope John Paul II beatified him.
Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713)
moral philosopher, politician. Anthony Ashley-Cooper was born in London in 1671 and grew up in the famous Exeter House. As a philosopher, he played an enlightening role that contradicted Hobbe’s philosophy of egoism. The essence of harmony was of central importance in his views. Its influence on subsequent generations is enormous, so it was very well received by Leibniz, Herder, Diderot and others. Ashley-Cooper died in Naples in 1713.
David Sheppard (1929-2005)
Bishop of Liverpool. Sheppard was born in Surrey in 1929 and studied in Cambridge. At first he distinguished himself as a cricketer over many years. Sheppard was very active in his church career and was one of the pioneers of “Faith in the City”. In 1998 he received the honorary title of Baron Sheppard of Liverpool. Sheppard died in Liverpool in 2005.
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
moral philosopher, father of economics. Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy in 1723 and studied in both Glasgow and Oxford. At the age of 27, Smith became professor of logic and later of moral philosophy. The great enlightener made himself immortal through numerous works, including: “Theory of ethical feelings” (1759) and “The prosperity of nations” (1776). Smith raised economics to a separate subject. His philosophical approach was based on human self-interest, which would lead to economic progress. Smith died in Kirkcaldy in 1790.
Dugald Stewart (1753-1828)
Dugald Stewart was born in Edinburgh in 1753, where he later studied moral philosophy, among other things. Thomas Reid was one of his teachers. This shaped Stewart’s views tremendously. From 1785 he worked as a professor of moral philosophy and passed on his knowledge to students such as James Mill and Sir Walter Scott. Stewart, who was a respected exponent of the Scottish School (Common Sense Philosophy) and was considered extremely original, died in his native town in 1828.
William Tyndale (c. 1448-1536)
priest and scholar, translator of the Bible into English. Tyndale was born in North Nibley around 1448. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge. His translation of the Bible was most widely used to date, due to the invention of the printing press. He introduced entirely new words into his mother tongue. However, the work was banned in England. Tyndale was executed in Vilvoorde in 1536 for his translation.
Chad Varah (1911-2007)
clergyman and founder of the Samaritans (telephone counseling). Varah was born in Barton-upon-Humber in 1911, the first of nine children of a priest. He studied at Keble College in Oxford, among others. In 1953 he set up the Samaritans, a telephone counseling service on a non-clerical basis. Between 1953 and 2003 he was also the church leader of a London congregation. Varah died in Basingstoke in 2007.
Baroness Mary Warnock (born 1924)
philosopher and writer of existentialism. Warnock was born in Winchester in 1924, the youngest of seven children to a wealthy family. She studied at Oxford, then became an honorary member and taught philosophy at the university. In 2008 she was charged with campaigning for euthanasia in people with dementia. She also takes the view that religion cannot be the basis of political decisions.
John Bainbridge Webster (1955)
Anglican theologian. Webster was born in Mansfield in 1955 and studied in Cambridge. He worked as a chaplain and tutor at Durham University, and later as a professor in Oxford and Aberdeen. He writes recognized writings in the field of social, historical and moral theology.
William Wilberforce (1759-1833)
Protestant reformer, front fighter against the slave trade. Wilberforce was born in Kingston upon Hull in 1759 and studied at Cambridge University. He was elected to the British House of Commons. Later he dealt with India, freedom, religion and campaigned vehemently against the slave trade in Great Britain. Wilberforce died in Chelsea in 1833, days after British slavery was abolished after decades of struggle.
Dr. Rowan Williams (born 1950)
Archbishop of Canterbury. Williams was born in Swansea in 1950. He studied at Cambridge, Oxford and at Mirfield Theological College near Leeds. Williams became a deacon, priest, dean and chaplain before teaching as a professor of theology at Oxford. This was followed by appointments to bishop and finally in 2002 he followed the call to Archbishop of Canterbury.
Thomas Wolsey (circa 1475-1530)
Cardinal and Archbishop of York and founder of Christ Church College in Oxford. Wolsey was born in Ipswich around 1475 and studied theology at Oxford. This was followed by ordination, doctor of theology, appointment as a Roman Catholic cardinal and finally the post of English Lord Chancellor. For a long time he was considered the most powerful man in England until he was charged with high treason. Wolsey died in Leicester in 1530.
John Wyclif (Wycliffe), (about 1330-1384)
philosopher, theologian and religious reformer. Wycliffe was born in Yorkshire around 1330. He studied at Oxford and later headed Balliol College. In his teachings he took the view “power only through grace” and denied the Pope his claim to political power. The people admired him, the rulers persecuted him. Wyclif died after suffering a stroke in 1284.