Francis Willughby (1635 – 1672)

Francis Willughby (or Willoughy) was a pioneering ornithologist who championed a scientific approach to the study of birds. Between 1663 and 1666, along with the naturalist John Ray, he travelled through Europe recording birds and organising species according to their physical characteristics.

He was born at Middleton Hall and educated at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he met John Ray. Sadly, on his return from Europe and before his ground breaking study could be published, he died from pleurisy at the age of 36.

Willughby is also famous for producing a scientific study of games, which includes one of the earliest accounts of football.