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County Durham - Famous People

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Famous People Connected to County Durham

Image right - Stan Laurel

Image by Stax - , Public Domain, Wiki Commons

Those people of note with connections to the county are listed below. Some of these connections are a little tenuous - counties like to lay claim to people of renown!

Please add information about people of renown connected to County Durham, England. If the person has a profile on Geni please add their profile to the project and add the link in bold.

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  • Rowan Atkinson. The star of shows such as ‘Not the Nine O’clock News’, ‘Blackadder’ and ‘Mr Bean’ was born in Consett and attended the Choristers School in Durham City


  • James Backhouse (8 July 1794 – 20 January 1869) was a botanist and missionary for the Quaker church in Australia. Born in Darlington
  • David Bellamy OBE The popular TV personality originally trained as a botanist at Durham University, where he later held the post of senior lecturer in botany until 1982. The David Bellamy Conservation Awards have celebrated and inspired an amazing variety of conservation projects in camping, caravan and holiday home parks across the UK.
  • Tony Blair Prime Minister of England from 1997 to 2007 and MP for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007. He attended The Choristers School in Durham City.
  • Count Joseph Boruwlaski (1739–1837), celebrated dwarf, spent last years of his life in Durham
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning Born in Coxhoe, County Durham (6th of March 1806 - 29th of June 1861) A prominent poet of the Victorian era. Married Robert Browning in secret and romantically eloped to Italy, where they remained until her death.


  • Paul Collingwood, MBE A regular member of the England Test side and was captain of the One Day International team from 2007–2008. From Shotley Bridge, he is also vice-captain of Durham County Cricket Club.


  • Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) A Raby estates surveyor, Jeremiah Dixon, born at Cockfield, gave his name to America’s Mason-Dixon line. Between 1763 and 1767 he and Charles Mason surveyed the disputed boundary line which demarcated the division between the Northern free states and the Southern slave states.




  • John Garth (1721–1810), composer. Lived in Durham for much of his life.
  • Godric of Finchale (c. 1065–1170), popular medieval saint, briefly served as doorkeeper at St Giles Hospital in Durham before becoming a hermit.


  • Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850) Railway pioneer whose engine ‘Sans Pareil’ was beaten by George Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ in the 1829 Rainhill Locomotive Trials.
  • Ralph Hodgson, (1871-1962) born Darlington English Poet.



  • Harold Jeffreys (1891 - 1989) - Mathematician, astromoner and geophysicist. Born in Durham



  • Stan Laurel (1890-1965) Comic Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame was baptised and schooled in Bishop Auckland after leaving his birthplace in Cumbria as a child. In 2008, a statue of Stan Laurel was unveiled in Bishop Auckland, on the site of the Eden Theatre where his father once worked.







  • Bryan Robson (Born 1957) Top England football captain born in Chester le Street, County Durham. Played for England 90 times, 65 as Captain and if it wasn't for many injuries would have undoubtedly clocked the magical 100 games for his country.
  • Sir Bobby Robson ( Born 1933) Famous and successful English Football manager who managed not only the England football team between 1984 and 1990 but also brought success to Ipswich, Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona before managing his beloved Newcastle United.


  • Michael Scott (1175-1230) born Durham. Studied at Oxford, Paris and Padua. Tutor and astrologer to Frederick II of Germany. Translated Arabic versions of Aristotle’s works. Wrote a learned work on astrology. Known as the wondrous wizard. Referred to by Dante in the Inferno. Grave said to be in Melrose Abbey.
  • Granville Sharp Born in Durham,(10th of November 1735 - 6th of July 1813) - English abolitionist.





  • Sir Arnold Wolfendale, Astronomer Royal


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