Harriet Marineu

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) was a British social theorist and Whig writer and is often credited as being the first female sociologist. Her written works included economic novels, social theory, romance novels and children’s books. Harriet was one of the only women in Victorian England to support herself financially entirely through writing, and often focused her work on themes of feminism and domestic issues - rare topics for her era.

William Smith

William Smith (1756–1835) was an MP for Sudbury in Suffolk between 1784 and 1790. In 1802, Smith accepted to stand for the Radicals in Norwich, leading to his involvement in the Octagon Chapel as a result of him being a dissenter.
Smith was most notable for his work in relieving the suffering of Unitarians through the Doctrine of the Trinity Act of 1813 and dedicated his life to advancing the equality of the Unitarian cause and the progress of numerous social movements.

James Martineau

James Martineau (1805-1900) was an Norwich born English religious philosopher influential in the history of Unitarianism. Martineau’s writings emphasized the individual human conscience as the primary guide for determining correct behaviour. For 45 years he was lecturer and Principal at Manchester New College where he was responsible for training ministerial students. He wrestled with questions concerning the Bible, sources of authority, the meaning of Christ, the validity of non-Christian religions and the roles of reason and conscience. He instrumental in shaping both Unitarian and general religious thought.

Other people you may not know where Unitarians...

Joanna Scott

A prominent member of the Octagon Chapel who left money in Trust for the education of young poor boys and girls. The Trust still makes grants for the education to the young of Norwich.

Charles Dickens

Often considered the finest English novelist of the 19th century. Although Dickens was baptized and reared in the Church of England and was a nominal Anglican for most of his life, he turned to Unitarianism in the 1840s as a Broad Church alternative. He associated with Unitarians until the end of his life.

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell was a life-long Unitarian and the author of a half-dozen novels, numerous short stories, and a biography of Charlotte Brontë. In her fiction she examined some of the the social issues of her time, particularly those associated with industrialization in mid-19th century England.

Frank Lloyd Wright

An architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed.

Joseph Priestley

An 18th-century English theologian, English Dissenters clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, innovative grammarian, multi-subject educator, and liberal political theorist who published over 150 works. He is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen.

Louisa May Alcott

Best known as the author of Little Women but also a strong advocate of practical reforms, women's rights and temperance.

Paul Newman

An American actor, film director, producer, IndyCar driver, entrepreneur, activist, and philanthropist.

Sarah Adams

An English poet and Unitarian, she is best known for writing the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee".

Thomas Jefferson

An American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Jefferson expressed general agreement with Unitarianism and although never joined a Unitarian church he did attend Unitarian services and was friend of Joseph Priestley.

Tim Berners-Lee

English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web.