Famous Shrewsbury Folk

William the Conqueror's right hand man. The world's most famous monk detective. The father of evolution.

Shrewsbury's been home to a colourful cast of characters over the last thousand years - real and fictional. Artists, thinkers, poets.

Roger de Montgomery

Roger de Montgomery was a Norman baron: William the Conqueror's right hand man and the first Earl of Shrewsbury. He founded the Shrewsbury Abbey and Shrewsbury Castle (though they both looked rather different in his day). At one time, Roger owned 90 per cent of the whole of Shropshire - even though he entered the Abbey as a monk, three days before he died.

The Drapers

The Drapers were wool merchants, and the most powerful guild in medieval Shrewsbury. Many of the half-timbered mansions you see around the town were built by them - including Rowley's House (now the Shrewsbury Museum) and the Old Market Hall in The Square (possibly the only cinema in the country with its own original Tudor beamed ceiling).

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was born and bred in Shrewsbury. And it was the unique flora and fauna of Shrewsbury and the Shopshire Hills that first fired up his passion for science and nature. He went to Shrewsbury School (now the Library) - but he spent most of his time fishing for newts in the Severn, collecting rocks and insects, or carrying out his own science experiments in the garden shed.

Click here to read more about Charles Darwin.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens stayed in The Lion hotel in Shrewsbury many time. He performed his legendary one-man shows at the Music Hall. And some say he wrote part of The Pickwick Papers while he was here (though some say otherwise).


Ellis Peters' monk detective, Cadfael, must be Shrewbury's most famous fictional resident. The novels are set in Shrewsbury Abbey. And if you're a fan of the novels or television series, you can take a special Cadfael tour.

Wilfred Owen (Wilfred Edward Salter Owen) 1893 - 1918

Wilfred Owen Shrewsbury

Perhaps slightly lesser known than Charles Darwin, Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was a British poet during the First World War.

He was born in Oswestry, Shropshire on the 18th of March 1893 and lived in Birkenhead in 1897 and moved to Shrewsbury in 1907.

After an illness in 1913 he lived in France. In 1915 he enlisted in the Artists Rifles. The experience of Trench Warfare brought Owen to rapid maturity and his poems written after the January of 1917 were full of heart-rending and poignant anger at the pointless persuit of war and in particular "those who die like cattle."

In the June of 1917 he was briefly invalided home to Britain and while in a hospital in Edinburgh he made the acquaintance of one Sigfried Sassoon, who shared Owens feelings about the war.

Owen returned to France in August 1918 as a Company Comander. He was awarded the military cross in October and was killed aged 25, a week before Armistice day, in a German machine gun attack on the banks of the Sambre-Oise canal on November the 4th 1918.

Whilst a memorial to Owen lies in the grounds of Shrewsbury Abbey, he is buried in France.

Mary Webb 1881 - 1927

Mary Webb Shrewsbury

Gladys Mary Webb was an English novelist and poet. She was born Gladys Mary Meredith, on the 25th of March 1881 at Leighton Lodge, Leighton-under-the-Wrekin, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire and lived there all her life, apart from her last six years, which were spent in London.

She was the eldest of six children and is perhaps best known for her book 'Precious Bane' (1924) although she did in fact write four other novels. 'The Golden Arrow' (1916), 'Gone to Earth' (1917), 'The House in Dormer Forest' (1920), 'Seven for a Secret' (1922) and her unfinished historical novel 'Armour Wherein he Trusted' (1929).

She is perhaps best known for romantic, rather than psychological exploration of her characters, but her writing style conveys a vivid impression of Shropshire's countryside and its people.

She died prematurely at St. Leonards, Sussex, on October 8th 1927 due to a thyroid disorder that had caused her ill-health throughout her life since she was in her twenties. She is buried in Shrewsbury's main cemetery in Longdon Road.

A Mary Webb Trail is available free of charge for those, wishing to learn more about the Shropshire of Mary Webb. For more information, please click here.

Robert Clive (Clive of India) 1725 - 1774

Clive of India Shrewsbury

Robert Clive was a soldier and statesman who is famously associated with British power in India. He was born on September 29th 1775 at Styche, the Clive family estate, in the parish of Moreton Say, near Market Drayton, Shropshire.

The Clive family were one of the oldest associated with Shropshire and records can trace them in Styche Manor during the reign of Henry II.

The young Robert Clive was a difficult unruly tearaway and was sent to several schools without any real effect. In 1743 at the age of 18 he was sent to Madras as a 'writer' in the English East India service. This was seen as a last resort at the time as his prospects were very limited.

While at Madras he twice attempted suicide, quarreled and fought a duel. He did, however, find solace in the library of the governors where he virtually educated himself. Following the outbreak of hostilities between the French and British in India, Clive proved himself an expert military tactician. In March 1753 he returned to England having married Margaret Maskeleyne.

Upon his return to England he became the MP for Shrewsbury in 1761 was later to be elected Mayor in 1762. Today a statue of Robert Clive can be found looking down on the people in the Square, in Shrewsbury Town Centre. Clive's Son Edward (1754-1839) followed in his father's footsteps and became Earl of Powis in 1804.

Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) 1913 - 1995

Ellis Peters Shrewsbury

When people think of Shrewsbury, they tend to think of Brother Cadfael, the Twelfth Century Benedictine, detective monk. This fictional character was created from the pen of Ellis Peters, whose real name was Edith Pargeter.

She was born on 28th September 1913 in Horehay, Shropshire and attended Coalbrookdale High School.

Shrewsbury Abbey is the setting for the chronicles of Brother Cadfael and even today the abbey still gets visitors from every corner of the globe, wanting to follow in the footsteps of Brother Cadfael.

Her 20 medieval mystery novels were so popular that they were adapted into a series of television dramas staring Sir Derek Jacobi.

She died aged 82 in 1995 in Shropshire and behind her a legacy of people who follow her Brother Cadfael novels.

In 1997 a new stained glass window depicting St. Benedict was put in Shrewsbury Abbey and is dedicated to the memory of Edith Pargeter.

Other famous Shrewsbury faces include:

Sir Philip Sidney 1554 - 1586

Poet Courtier & Soldier who died after being shot in his leg by a musket during the battle of Zutphen in Holland.

Judge George Jeffreys 1648 - 1689

Known as the Hanging Judge, was educated at Shrewsbury School

William George Rushton 1937 - 1996

Cartoonist, Broadcaster, Author and Actor, educated at Shrewsbury School.

Michael Heseltine

Conservative Member of Parliament in Margaret Thatcher's Government, was educated at Shrewsbury School.

Michael Palin

Entertainer, Comedian and Traveller, who was educated at Shrewsbury School.

Christopher Timothy

The Bayston Hill Actor who is best known for his portrayal of Yorkshire vet James Herriot in the television series 'All Creatures Great & Small', was educated in Shrewsbury.