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Mary Somerville May Appear on New Scottish £10 Banknote

Started by Bimat, January 31, 2016, 06:40:19 AM

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Mary Somerville could be first woman other than Queen to feature on RBS banknote

Royal Bank of Scotland asks public to vote for pioneering scientist, physicist James Clerk Maxwell or Thomas Telford after Rab C Nesbitt fails to make shortlist.

The face of a woman other than the Queen could feature on Royal Bank of Scotland banknotes for the first time, as voting opens for the new face of RBS tenners north of the border.

Royal Bank of Scotland has announced a shortlist of three Scots, including Mary Somerville, a 19th-century scientist whose work contributed to the discovery of the planet Neptune.

She will be up against the physicist James Clerk Maxwell, whose study of electromagnetism inspired Albert Einstein, and Thomas Telford, the civil engineer known as the "Colossus of Roads".

RBS, which is one of three banks to print banknotes in Scotland, is inviting votes via its Facebook page until Sunday 7 February, after asking the public for nominees in the field of science and innovation.

Not everybody who submitted a nomination respected the criteria though, as those who failed to make the cut include the hard-drinking comedy character Rab C Nesbitt, the former Scottish National party leader Alex Salmond and Nelson Mandela, who was not Scottish.

If Somerville wins, she will be the first woman other than Queen Elizabeth II to appear on Scottish banknotes in widespread circulation since RBS started printing them in 1727. While the Queen Mother appeared on a commemorative banknote in 2000 on the occasion of her 100th birthday, no woman has ever featured in a mainstream issue.

Born in 1780, Somerville's relative wealth allowed her access to education in astronomy and geography, despite living in an age when women were discouraged from studying science.

She is credited with an instrumental role in the discovery of Neptune, thanks to her writing on a hypothetical planet perturbing the orbit of Uranus.

Somerville is also indelibly linked to the advancement of women in academia, having given her name to an Oxford college that initially only admitted women. Alumni of Somerville College, founded in 1879, include the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the TV presenter Esther Rantzen and the former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi.

RBS's decision to include a woman on its shortlist follows a high-profile row in 2013, when the Bank of England faced criticism for replacing the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill on the £5 note from 2016.

The decision left no women on English banknotes at all, prompting an eventually successful campaign led by the journalist Caroline Criado-Perez to put the face of Jane Austen on the £10 note.

RBS said more than 400 people had suggested 128 candidates, who were eventually whittled down to three.

"The strength of our shortlist is indicative of the significant contribution that Scotland has made to the field of science and innovation," said RBS' chief marketing officer, David Wheldon. "I look forward to finding out which one of these great figures is chosen."

The winning candidate will feature on the £10 denomination in a range of new polymer notes, which will be 15% smaller than existing paper notes and far more durable.

Previous banknote issues have featured King George III, the textile entrepreneur David Dale, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, and the American golfer Jack Nicklaus.

Source: The Guardian
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.