Sir Francis Galton F.R.S. 1822-1911
In the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels, Claverdon is the tomb of the famous Victorian, Sir Francis Galton. Despite his huge achievements and reputation during his lifetime, Sir Francis Galton is no longer widely known. He was at one time a geographer, meteorologist, tropical explorer, the inventor of fingerprint identification, a pioneer of statistical correlation and regression, eugenicist and a best-selling author. Galton was the first to describe the anti-cyclone and pioneered the introduction of weather-maps based on charting data about air pressure. He prepared the first weather map, which was published in The Times on April 1 1875, showing the weather from the previous day. Galton also provided the first workable fingerprint classification system, giving the study a scientific basis and so laying the groundwork for their use in criminal cases. He was able to collect a large sample of over 8,000 sets of prints to provide statistical proof of their uniqueness. He was a passionate advocate for their use for criminal identification.
Following the publication of his half cousin Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ he devoted himself to the study of human heredity, using then novel methods such as pedigree analysis and twin studies to argue that talent and character were inherited and that humans could be selectively bred to enhance these qualities. He founded the eugenics movement, which rapidly gained momentum and was actively involved in this into his late eighties. One of his interesting treatises is on the efficacy of prayer for longevity. It seemed to work for Galton - he lived to the age of 89 and was buried in the family plot at Claverdon.