Over the centuries, many researchers originating from Cheshire attained an impressive reputation though their diligence and passion. During the Renaissance, prominent names include herbalist John Gerard of Nantwich, who lived between 1545 and 1612, and cartographer and historian John Speed from Farndon (1552 - 1629), who left behind early maps of English towns, other countries and even the globe.
Another notable name is naturalist and bird illustrator William Swainson (1789 - 1855), who used an innovative lithography technique to produce works such as Zoological Illustration and Exotic Conchology during the first part of the 19th Century. A remarkable contribution to the study of human anatomy was brought by surgeon and ophthalmologist Sir William Bowman, born in Nantwich in 1816, who used a microscope to meticulously study human tissues.
The 20th Century brought a new wave of scientific interest and discoveries. The work of people such as geneticist Brian Clarke from Gatley, archaeologist John Marshall from Chester and geologist Arthur Woodward from Macclesfield (who dedicated much of his energy to researching fossil fish) contributed significantly to present day's expansive insight into the mechanisms of out world, as well as its history. Nobel Prize winners include physicists Charles Barkla from Widnes and James Chadwick from Macclesfield, as well as biologist Tim Hunt from Neston and biochemist Richard Synge, born in Chester in 1914. Also, astronomer Margaret Burbidge, originating from Davenport, was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1984 for her merits.
Other remarkable names have remained in history not only for their occupational merits but their humanitarianism, such as Wilfred Grenfell (1865 - 1940) and Leonard Cheshire (1917 - 1992), the first a physician and medical missionary from Parkgate and the latter a World War II hero and philanthropist born in Chester. Wilfred Grenfell, who was knighted in 1927, travelled extensively to remote areas of the world, where he founded care facilities such as orphanages and hospitals. Leonard Cheshire founded a charity which remains among Britain's most active, with the aim of providing assistance to disabled people.