FAMOUS PEOPLE FROM PORTSMOUTH A-B

The Portsmouth Hall of Fame displays the details of some of the famous people from Portsmouth, some of who were born in Portsmouth and others who lived and worked in the City. Portsmouth has a wealth of famous people both past and present, these include writers, politicians, sports personalities and musicians.

If you know of someone who you feel should be included on these pages, but is missing, then please send us an email to info@welcometoportsmouth.co.uk and let us know the details.

  • ADMIRAL GEORGE ANSON RN

    Admiral George Anson.

    Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, PC, FRS (1697 - 1762). One of the most decorated men of the Royal Navy, joined the Navy at 15, became an officer at 21 and by 27 was a Captain and commanded his own ship. Anson made a round the world journey that lasted nearly 4 years in 1741 expanding the British knowledge of the Pacific Ocean. He was promoted to rear-admiral, in 1744, the same year he was elected as MP for Hedon in Yorkshire. In 1747 he led the fleet that defeated the French at Cape Finisterre and was made promoted to vice-admiral. In 1748 he became a full admiral, First Lord of the Admiralty.

  • SIR FRANCIS AUSTEN RN

    Sir Francis Austen.

    Sir Francis Austen (1774 - 1865) a British officer who spent most of his long life on active duty in the Royal Navy, rising to the position of Admiral of the Fleet. In October 1805, as commander of the HMS Canopus, a captured French ship of the line, Austen was temporarily detached from Admiral Nelson's fleet for duties in the Mediterranean and missed fighting in the Battle of Trafalgar. Austen was brother to novelist Jane Austen, and likely the model for the character William Price in the novel Mansfield Park. Austen's rapid early promotions were largely due to the patronage of the powerful Warren Hastings, who was a friend of the Austen family and was alleged to be the actual father of Frank's cousin (and later sister-in-law), Eliza de Feuillide. Francis Austen is buried at St Peter and St Paul church, Wymering.

  • SIR HENRY AYERS

    Sir Henry Ayers born in Portsmouth

    Sir Henry Ayers (1821 - 1897) was a Premier of South Australia and is best remembered for having Ayers Rock (now Uluru) named for him, by the explorer WC Gosse. He was born on 1 May 1821 at Portsea, Hampshire, England, son of William Ayers, employed at Portsmouth Dockyard, and his wife Elizabeth, nee Breakes. He attended the Beneficial Society's School in Portsea, and in 1832 entered the legal office of S. W. Blyth in Portsea.

    Ayers and his wife arrived in Adelaide in 1840 on free passage. he worked as a law clerk, in 1845 he became secretary of the South Australian Mining Association. In 1857 Ayers was elected to Australia's first Legislative Council, he held various other high ranking government posts before becoming the 8th Premier of South Australia, a post he held five times between 1863 and 1873. Ayers was appointed C.M.G. in 1870, K.C.M.G. in 1872 after completion of the transcontinental telegraph line, and G.C.M.G. in 1894.

  • HERTHA AYRTON

    Hertha Ayrton scientist from Portsmouth

    Phoebe Sarah Hertha Ayrton (1854 - 1923)was an engineer, inventor, mathematician and suffragette. She was one of the first female students to be accepted to Cambridge University at Girton College. Hertha was born in 1854 as Sarah Marks, at 6 Queen Street, Portsea, the third child of a Polish Jewish watchmaker.

    She married Professor William Ayrton in 1885, he was her lecturer at Finsbury Technical College where she was studying at the time. Her scientific work led to great improvements to the arc lamp, widely used for street lighting.

    Hertha was proposed but turned down as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the institute stating that "married women are not eligible as Fellows of the Royal Society."

  • SIR WALTER BESANT

    Sir Walter Besant of Portsmouth

    Walter Besant (1836 -1901) was born in Portsmouth, English novelist and humanitarian he graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1859.

    Many of Besant's novels dealt with social problems in the East End of London, among them were All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882) and Children of Gibeon (1886). Besant was one of the most widely read novelists of the late 19th century. He was knighted in 1895.

  • HENRY BIRD

    Henry Bird a prolific chess player and accountant was born in Portsea July 14th 1829. Bird wrote Chess History and Reminiscences and An Analysis of Railways in the United Kingdom. Bird played at the first international chess tournament held in London in 1851 and also played at tournaments in Vienna and New York. Bird popularised the Bird's Opening, also known as the Dutch Attack, which involves white controlling the e5-square. In 1876 he received the first brilliancy prize at a tournament in New York.

  • DENISE BLACK

    Actress Denise Black, born in Portsmouth

    Actress Denise Black, real name Denise Nixon, was born in 1959 in Emsworth, to mother Stella, a bank clerk and Lieutenant Don Nixon, an engineering officer in the Royal Navy. Denise attended Portsmouth High School for Girls. Her first professional drama role was as a cat in Miniatures at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. In 1992, Denise appeared in The Bill, A Touch of Frost and as a Police woman in Between The Lines before joining Coronation Street as hair dresser Denise Osbourne, a role she played until February 1996, she returned for another 6 months in Coronation Street at the end of 1992.

  • ROGER BLACK MBE

    Athlete Roger Black MBE, who was born in Portsmouth

    Born March 31st 1966, in Gosport, Roger Black is a former Olympic athlete and can now be regularly seen on TV as a sports presenter. He attended Alverstoke Church of England Primary School and Portsmouth Grammar School, where he was Head Boy in 1983 - 1984. He set the national 400 metre record of 44.37 seconds on 3 July 1996 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Roger won the following Olympic medals:
    Atlanta 1996: Silver: 400m
    Atlanta 1996: Silver: 4 x 400m Relay
    Barcelona 1992: 400m
    Barcelona 1992: Bronze: 4 x 400m Relay

  • ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL

    Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was born in Portsmouth

    Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born at 1 Briton Street, Portsea, educated at Hove, near Brighton and studied for two years at the College Henri Quatre, Paris, after which, in 1823, he rejoined his father in England.
    After his work on the Thames Tunnel, Isambard planned the Clifton Suspension Bridge, over the River Avon, which was completed posthumously in 1864 using chains from his own Hungerford Suspension Bridge.
    He was responsible for the design of several famous ships including The Great Western, launched in 1837, was the first steamship ever to engage in transatlantic service.
    The Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the world's first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner. The Great Eastern, launched in 1859, was designed in cooperation with John Scott Russell, and was by far the biggest ship ever built up to that time.
    Brunel was also responsible for the redesign and construction of many of Britain's major docks, including Bristol, Monkwearmouth, Cardiff and Milford Haven as well as numerous pioneering bridges.

  • DEREK BOSHIER

    Derek Boshier, Pop Artist, born in Portsmouth

    Derek Boshier was born in Portsmouth in 1937 and was an artist known to be one of the first artists involved in the British Pop Art scene. He studied at the Yeovil School of art in Somerset and then the Royal College of Art alongside an illustrious group of artists including David Hockney, Pauline Boty, Allen Jones and Peter Phillips.

    Boshier moved to the USA taking a position at the University of Houston 1981-1992, he also joined the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles in 1997.

    Boshier had works commissioned by musicians David Bowie, The Clash and The Pretty Things and his works can be seen at the Tate Gallery, the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and The National Gallery of Art, Canberra, Australia.

Read more about famous people with a Portsmouth connection here, from James Callaghan to Helen Duncan.