Mary Somerville, the mathematician and scientist whose work led to the discovery of Neptune, has beaten off competition from two famous fellow Scots to appear on new Royal Bank of Scotland £10 note.
RBS’s new polymer £10 notes, bearing the image of Jedburgh-born Somerville are set to be issued in the second half of 2017.
The announcement follows controversy over possible “rigging” of votes in a public competitions which saw one of the contenders, engineer Thomas Telford, suddenly seeing a surge of votes from the public on Facebook in his favour pushing him into the lead, overtaking Somerville.
The concerns resulted in the announcement of the winner being delayed until RBS carried out an investigation.
The public were asked to vote to choose between three historical Scottish figures – Somerville, James Clerk Maxwell and Telford – judged to have made significant contributions to the field of science and innovation.
Malcolm Buchanan, chair of RBS’s Scotland board, said: “I was overwhelmed by the response to this initiative – a first for the Royal Bank of Scotland - and would like to thank all those who took the time to vote. Having the opportunity to choose the face of our new £10 notes obviously meant a great deal to a great number of people.
“Any of our final nominees would have been worthy winners and we wanted to make sure that our choice properly reflected the wishes of
those who took part. Mary Somerville’s immense contribution to science and her determination to succeed against all the odds clearly resonate as much today as they did during her lifetime.”
Somerville (1780 – 1872) came to the fore at a time when women’s participation in science was strongly
discouraged. She was was jointly nominated to be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835.