Sir Francis Galton

by Charles Wellington Furse, oil on canvas, 1903

Sir Francis Galton by Charles Wellington Furse National Portrait Gallery

Sir Francis Galton was an eminent 19th century scientist, a polymath whose life and career spanned the entire reign of Queen Victoria. He was a cousin of Charles Darwin and made significant contributions himself to subjects from meteorology to psychology, genetics, forensics and statistical methods. Many of his findings formed the basis of modern experimental methods and are still in use in science and medicine today. However, he is chiefly remembered for introducing the term ‘eugenics’ and for his enthusiastic advocacy of selective breeding in human populations, although this work has long been discredited.