Astronomer Mary Somerville to star on a Scottish £10 note to be issued in 2017

Royal Bank of Scotland to depict pioneering astronomer on £10 polymer note
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 02/19/16
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Adding another mark to the win column for the women on bank notes movement looks like it is becoming nearly a weekly occurrence. The Royal Bank of Scotland announced Feb. 7 that pioneer 19th century astronomer and mathematician Mary Somerville is set to be the first woman, other than the queen, to appear on Royal Bank of Scotland paper money. She had twice the votes of her nearest competitors on a public ballot to decide the subject of the new £10 polymer note. The other two candidates, on a ballot restricted to Scottish scientists, were physicist James Clerk Maxwell and civil engineer Thomas Telford.

Somerville was born in 1780 and studied in secret, since girls were discouraged from scientific learning. The £10 note adds to a long legacy of honors. She was one of the first two female members of the Royal Astronomical Society. Her work led to the discovery of the planet Neptune. A lunar crater is named after her, as are the asteroid belt 5571 Somerville, Somerville Island in the Canadian Arctic, Somerville College at Oxford, and one of the committee rooms of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The new notes are scheduled to be issued in the second half of 2017.

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