Johnian recipients of the Royal Medal of the Royal Society

For contributions to the physical, biological and applied sciences

Each year, the Royal Society issues three Royal Medals, two for the most important contributions “to the advancement of Natural Knowledge” and one for notable contributions in the applied sciences.

Founded by King George IV in 1825 and first awarded in 1826, initially, only two medals were awarded annually, the third being introduced in 1965 on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.

Listed below are those Johnians who have been awarded the Royal Medal to date. It is interesting to note the correlation between this and the Copley Medal: of 39 Royal Medallists, 12 have gone on to receive the Copley Medal in later years.

John Frederick William Herschel (1833). For his Paper  "on the Investigation of the Orbits of Revolving Double Stars," inserted in the Fifth Volume of the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society.

John Frederick William Herschel (1836).  For his paper on nebulae and clusters of stars, published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1833

John Frederick William Herschel (1840). For his paper entitled On the chemical action of the rays of the solar spectrum on preparations of silver, and other substances, both metallic and non-metallic, and on some photogenic processes, published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1840.

James Joseph Sylvester (1861). For his various memoirs and researches in mathematical science

George Howard Darwin (1884). For his mathematical investigations on the rigidity of the Earth, and on tides.

John Newport Langley (1892).  For his work on secreting glands, and on the nervous system

Charles Pritchard (1892).  For his work on photometry and stellar parallax

Arthur Schuster (1893). For his spectroscopic inquiries, and his researches on disruptive discharge through gases and on terrestrial magnetism

Percy Alexander MacMahon (1900). For the number and range of his contributions to mathematical science

William Burnside (1904). For his researches in mathematics, particularly in the theory of groups

Alfred George Greenhill (1906). For his contributions to mathematics, especially the elliptic functions and their applications.            

Augustus Edward Hough Love (1909). On the ground of his researches in the theory of elasticity and cognate subjects

William Mitchinson Hicks (1912). On the ground of his researches in mathematical physics

Grafton Elliot Smith (1912). No citation

William Johnson Sollas (1914). For researches in palaeontology

Joseph Larmor (1915). On the ground of his numerous and important contributions to mathematical and physical science

William Halse Rivers Rivers (1915). On the ground of his important contributions to ethnography and ethnology

William Bateson (1920). On the ground of his contributions to biological science, and especially his studies in genetics

Frederick Frost Blackman (1921). For his researches on the gaseous exchange in plants & on the operation of limiting factors

Albert Charles Seward (1925). For his researches on the palaeobotany of Gondwanaland

John Edward Marr (1930). For his pioneer work in the accurate zoning of the palaeozoic rocks

Patrick Playfair Laidlaw (1933). For his work on diseases due to viruses, including that on the cause and prevention of distemper in dogs

Alfred Harker (1935). In recognition of his distinguished work and influence as a petrologist

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1939). For the leading part he had taken in the development of the new quantum mechanics

William Whiteman Carlton Topley (1942). For his outstanding work on experimental epidemiology and immunology

Harold Jeffreys (1948). For his distinguished work in geophysics and his important contributions to the astronomy of the solar system

Edward Victor Appleton (1950). For his work on the ele [sic] transmission of electromagnetic waves round the earth and for his investigations of the ionic state of the upper atmosphere

Frederic Charles Bartlett (1952). In recognition of his creation of an experimental school of psychology which has established under his leadership an outstanding position recognized internationally as without superior

Nevill Francis Mott (1953). In recognition of his eminent work in the field of quantum theory and particularly in the theory of metals

John Douglas Cockcroft (1954). In recognition of his distinguished work on nuclear and atomic physics

William Vallance Douglas Hodge (1957). In recognition of his distinguished work on algebraic geometry

Rudolf Ernst Peierls (1959). In recognition of his distinguished work on the theoretical foundations of high energy and nuclear physics

Raymond Arthur Lyttleton (1965).  In recognition of his distinguished contributions to astronomy, particularly for his work on the dynamical stability of galaxies

Frank Yates (1966). In recognition of his profound and far-reaching contributions to the statistical methods of experimental biology

Joseph Burtt Hutchinson (1967). In recognition of his distinguished work on the genetics and evolution of crop-plants with particular reference to cotton

Charles William Oatley (1969). In recognition of his distinguished work in the wartime development of radar and latterly for the design and development of a highly successful scanning electron microscope

Frederick Sanger (1969). In recognition of his pioneer work on the sequence of amino acids in proteins and of nucleotides of ribonucleic acids

Fred Hoyle (1974). In recognition of his distinguished contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology

Abdus Salam (1978). In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the physics of elementary particles with special reference to the unification of the electromagnetic and weak interactions

Roger Penrose (1985). For his fundamental contributions to the theory of gravitational collapse and to other geometric aspects of theoretical physics

Eric James Denton (1987). In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the physiology of marine animals, to marine biology generally, and his leadership of UK marine science

Robert Aubrey Hinde (1996). In recognition of his contributions to the field of animal behaviour and the dominant influence it achieved on the emerging field of ethology

Christopher Martin Dobson (2009). For his outstanding contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms of protein folding and mis-folding, and the implications for disease


Royal Medal - Royal Society