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A selection from the unique Actual Nominal Library collection

Biographical notes by L. O. Way © 2023   Last updated 01/07/2024

Percy is thought to derive from two Old French or Gaulish words meaning to breach (or pierce) an enclosure. Like a few other pointy things, the word came to England with the Normans in the 11th century, and records indicate it was a family name (in spellings like Percehai and Piercey) for hundreds of years before being given or taken as a forename. It has been commonly used as a diminutive of Percival (but not Perseus), which is similarly formed but was in fact a later 12th century literary invention (a nominal impercynation, if you like). So, to mix in a bit of Latin here, Percy is a distinct name per se, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

NOTE: Collectables here are limited, with rare exceptions, to persons (a) with the first name of Percy, (b) whose birth & death dates are known, and (c) for whom a reproducible photograph or other suitable portrait could be obtained. No disrespect is intended by the absence of any Percy who may fulfil these three conditions. Animals and fictional characters have been excluded (except for two cartoon figures). All images are downloaded from the World Wide Web and reproduced on this page without explicit permission. As far as can be discerned from Web searches, all Percys in this collection are really real, i.e. not invented by anyone. I trust the reader will join me in sending them all – the dead and the living – my very best wishes. L. O. Way

July 2024: This month’s featured Percy

Percy Sledge | Singer | 1940-2015

A fine example of the sort of casually pensive, hand-on-face pose for a professional studio portrait, giving Mr Sledge a chance to show off his watch and cuff-links – and what could be a gold wedding ring – which I think make it clear that this is not some hick from the cotton fields of Alabama but an urbane man from the cotton fields of Alabama. He did pick cotton for a time but worked mostly as a hospital orderly by day, then sang James Brown, Sam Cooke and Elvis Presley songs with a local band, The Esquires, at night. The tune for When A Man Loves A Woman, his first recording and a massive hit in 1966, was his own, but he gave the composition credit to two Esquires who had helped him with the lyrics and chords. A little naïve, perhaps, but in keeping with the artistic persona Percy projected: an honest, uncomplicated guy.

Boswell (1)
Boswell (2)

Eaton (1)
Eaton (2)


Hughes (1)
Hughes (2)
Lau (1)
Lau (2)


Pierce (1)
Pierce (2)

Smith (1)
Smith (2)

de Wolfe

Total 151

Percy Abbott | Magician | 1886-1960
An amiably roguish expression if ever I saw one – and a most Percy-like moustache. I think it was unusual to smile in photos at that time (about 1910). Born in Australia, orphaned very young, he settled in the USA in the 1920s, becoming a celebrated magician and retailer of magic equipment.

Percy Adlon | Film Director | b. 1935
A Bavarian film-maker best known for Bagdad Café (1987), he is nominally a rare Percy because it comes – presumably – from his middle name, Parsifal, the German equivalent of Percival. He is the only Parsifal in this collection, but I expect there are many more in Germanic countries.

Percy Alden | Social Worker, Politician | 1865-1944
Two years after this photo was taken, Sir Percy was killed when a V-1 flying bomb – the so-called “doodlebug” – hit Tottenham Court Road, causing several casualties. He had done good work as a radical Liberal MP, notably in support of minorities, and had three children. Not a great way to go.

Percy Barnard | Rector | 1868-1941
It is done in the waxed and rolled style traditionally known as “English” but even so, this moustache seems risqué for a provincial Reverend. In fact, in his late thirties, he did lose his faith and gave up the church to become a dealer in rare books and antique prints, among other things. Where the moustache leads, the spirit will follow. (Another Percy Barnard – unrelated as far as I can tell – was a specialist lightweight bicycle builder in Brixton, south London, in the 1950s and 60s.)

Percy Begg | Orthodontist | 1898-1983
Born in a tent in the goldfields of Coolgardie, Western Australia, he went on to become a pioneer researcher and practitioner in modern orthodontics, being the first to extract selected teeth to correct dental crowding, and developing his highly influential “Light-Wire Differential Force” method.

Percy Blandford | Naval Architect | 1912-2014
He lived 102 years and was a Scout for 93 of them. That's a hell of a lot of “dyb-dyb-dobs” and woggles and whatnots. He wrote dozens of pioneering DIY books on how to make things like canoes and boats, and as President of the International Guild of Knot Tyers was often tied up in meetings.

Percy Boswell (1) | Soldier | 1894-1914
From over 100 years ago, here is a superbly lit studio portrait of a strikingly handsome young man – the photography is so good, he could be a modern-day actor in period costume. But the date of his death reveals the distinctly unbeautiful reality: he was killed in the first hour of the Battle of the Somme, aged 22.

Percy Boswell (2) | Geologist | 1886-1960
A few years older than his namesake above but he survived both world wars and became a big name in geology. He actively discredited Louis Leakey's controversial claim to have found 100,000 year old Homo sapiens fossil remains in Kenya. But Boswell was wrong, and Leakey was later vindicated.

Percy Bradshaw | Illustrator | 1877-1965
A prolific illustrator and postcard artist from Hackney, he founded the Press Art School (1905-1955), offering correspondence courses in sketching and painting. These were remarkably popular and inspired people from all social classes to take up drawing for pleasure and profit. Good show!

Percy Bridgman | Physicist | 1882-1961

Just what is it about this man's face that says scientist? In 1946 he won a Nobel Prize for his work on the physics of high pressures. After living with cancer for several years, he shot himself. “His suicide note has been quoted by people on both sides of the assisted suicide debate” (Wikipedia).

Percy Brown | Melodeon Player | 1903-1980
He knew a huge number of traditional songs and hymns but did not read music, nor did he think of himself as a folk musician – in fact he would play by ear any contemporary pop tunes he happened to like. It is said he swapped his collection of 78 rpm records for a pig. A truly Norfolk Percy.

Percy Jewett Burrell | Director of Pageants | 1877-1964
“How very dare you!” Well, no, you don't have to be gay to be a Director of Pageants, but a camp sensibility must help. I imagine Percy was a dear man, tirelessly efficient and a master of tact and discretion at all times. His writings are very civic-minded and full of hope for humanity.

Percy Button | Busker | 1892-1954
Percy Archibald Button was born in a London workhouse and ended up homeless in Perth. He was a well-known street entertainer there for decades – famous enough to have a statue erected in his honour and an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His face tells a long story.

Percy Carey | Rapper | b. 1970
An utterly hip hop hat. He began his entertainment career as an actor on Sesame Street, aged 5. Known today as MF Grimm or Grimm Reaper, at 24 he very nearly met the grim reaper after being shot seven times by a rival drug gang. Due to his injuries he now gets around using a wheelchair.

Percy Cerutty | Athletics Coach | 1895-1975
A leathery philosophical Australian, much taken to running up and down sand dunes in the buff. He had some success with his “Stotan” method – a unique combination of Stoic and Spartan principles – for training Olympic runners. Let's call him an eccentric pioneer of bodymind workouts.

Percy Cohen | Dentist | 1922-2012
One of the first white people imprisoned for protesting against apartheid (Johannesburg, 1952). A Jewish anti-racist and lifelong supporter of the ANC, he was deported to the UK in 1960 with Oliver Tambo and other ANC activists. For his skilful dentistry they dubbed him “Painless Percy”.

Percy Collick | Union Official, Politician | 1897-1984
Solid Labour man with a railways background. There is something of the opera singer and panto dame about him too. No offence. A Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1964, he did his bit for baby-boomer state-building. I wonder if, before he died in 1984, he had read Nineteen Eighty-Four?

Percy Colque | Footballer | b. 1976
How a Bolivian gets to be named Percy is not important. What really matters is the look he has perfected for this match line-up photo: proud, tough, intense, gazing both inwardly and outwardly at the only possible thing of importance, winning the game. This is a true footballer's face.

Percy Correll | Mechanic | 1892-1974
Not just any mechanic but an Antarctic one – hence the bad hair and weathered physiog. At 19 he joined Douglas Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition, gaining the distinction of being the only Percy ever to have a nunatak (a glacial peak used as a landmark) named after him. Cool.

Percy Cox | Colonial Administrator | 1864-1937
Note the stubborn chin and those shrewd eyes. He was a key military and political player for the British Empire in Kuwait and Persia, and in 1922 was very briefly in effect the King of Iraq. “King Percy of Iraq” is a dodgy title from any viewpoint, perhaps, but it is a nominal anomaly which ensures his place in this collection.

Percy Crosby | Cartoonist, Writer | 1891-1964
Much admired for his Skippy cartoon strip in the 1920s-40s, he was not afraid to mock the Ku Klux Klan, President Roosevelt, Al Capone and others. Attacking the rich and powerful is dangerous enough; having a chronic drink problem only adds to the risk. Sadly, Percy ended his days in a psychiatric hospital.

Percy Dalton | Peanut Processor | 1900?-1987
I am not certain this is a photo of Percy Dalton the peanut guy, but he looks the part. He began the business in Spitalfields in the 1930s, and it was family-owned until 2009. (My research does confirm this is not a photo of Percy Dalton who was Carlisle's City Engineer, 1926-1949. Just so you know.)

Percy Danforth | Bones Player | 1900-1992
Rhythmically clacking rib bones together to make a pleasing noise is a musical art that can be traced back to ancient China. Percy learned it as a boy in Michigan, where “bones” (wooden sticks) were played in folk music, and he excelled at it all his life. The Rhythm Bones Society calls him a “legend”.

Percy Davis | Cricketer | 1915-2001
Wrinkly, lop-sided, gap-toothed – this guy has more character in his face than he knows, probably, which is part of his appeal. It is a bit odd to feel attracted to a man based on a tiny old photograph, but I feel I would get on well with “Sparrow”, as he was called, even though I don't enjoy cricket.

W. Percy Day | Artist | 1878-1965
How could this man be called anything other than Percy? (The W is for Walter – he never used it.) Born in Luton, England, he died in Los Angeles after working on over 100 movies as a scenic artist, a master of the laborious, highly tricky (pre-computer) “matte” process. A bit mad then? Quite likely.

Percy Deift | Mathematician | b. 1945
He knows a thing or two about orthogonal polynomials, random matrices, loop groups and spectral theory. I wonder if his hoodie and baseball hat (note the maths equation) are the typical garb of a New York professor these days. I guess so. “Invariant random matrix ensembles” is kinda where it's really all at.

Percy Dix | Theatrical Entrepreneur | 1866-1917
Originally a tea merchant in Melbourne, New Zealand, his interest in amateur theatricals led him to stage his own ‘variety’ productions. Percy Dix claimed his vaudeville shows were always free from vulgarity – indeed, his artistes signed a contract obliging them to avoid any double-entendres in their acts. Hmm...

Percy Eaton (1) | Outfitter | 1888-1975
Most definitely a man with a sharp eye for detail. I would trust Mr Eaton to equip me with the correct under-garments for my next winter trip to Iceland for sure. As well as an outfitter, he was a town councillor, a special constable, a church deacon and a Rotarian. An upright, virtuous sort of chap. Indubitably.

Percy Eaton (2) | Sailor | 1920-1982
He was an Able Seaman on HMS Nelson, flag-ship of the Home Fleet. In this faded portrait from 1939 he looks excited, and ready to fight for his country. The hat pushed right back like that, with the bow at the front, can't be the proper way to wear it though? It's a fetching look, anyway.

Percy Edwards | Animal Impersonator | 1908-1996
He could do dozens of different bird songs, and a variety of other animals too, including some fictional ones: he provided vocal effects for the creatures in the film Alien (1979). What a rare thing to do for a living. He was also an ornithologist and a Fellow of the London Zoological Society.

Percy Etherton | Diplomat | 1879-1963
A fabulous furry Percy. From what I have read, to be “British Consul” in Kashgar (northern China) in the 1920s was essentially to be an anti-Soviet spy and get involved in all sorts of diplomatic intrigue. Our man did a lot of that, and went to very cold places like Siberia too – hence the big hat.

Percy Faith | Bandleader, Composer | 1908-1976
The cigarette as a sign of sophistication and elegance? His music was styled “easy listening” (e.g. Theme From A Summer Place) but he looks to me like a man who sets very high standards for himself and believes he often falls short. Or I am just projecting my own perfectionism? (Yep.)

Percy Fawcett | Explorer | 1967-1925?
The eccentric hat, the moustache and the pipe all combine to form a striking image, but it is his gaze that I find most compelling. His friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who probably based the Lord Roxton character in his novel The Lost World on Fawcett) remarked that his piercing eyes showed his “capacity for furious wrath and implacable resolution, the more dangerous because they are held in leash.” Fawcett certainly had fierce determination. Before he disappeared somewhere in Brazil in 1925, he had led seven expeditions in South America, mostly into the Amazonian jungle. No-one knows what happened to him or the two men with him (one of whom was his son), despite many search parties. It is said that Percy hoped to discover a secret advanced civilisation. One day, Hollywood will make a bad film about this.

Percy Fearon | Cartoonist | 1874-1948
Percy produced about 10,000 cartoons, signed “Poy”, for local and national British newspapers. His “Cuthbert the Rabbit” character was so well-known that Cuthbert entered the Oxford English Dictionary as a slang term for a man who refuses to join the war effort by getting a job in the Civil Service.

Percy Fender | Cricketer | 1892-1985
A suave portrait from a series of cigarette cards (possibly Ogden's) in the 1930s. I know nothing about cricket but it's clear that Percy George Herbert Fender had a very good innings, as they say, dying at 93. He married twice; both wives died before him. A sporting life of fame and glory and grief.

Percy Findlay | Businessman, Musician | 1866-1945
He played cornet and cello in local bands while running a music warehouse in Launceston, Tasmania, and set up the first radio station there, which still exists. With his wife Alice he had nine children: Ila, Algernon, Norman, Selwyn, Meryl, Gwendoline, Thelma, Lorna and Nancy. What a splendid list!

Percy Fitzgerald | Writer | 1834-1925
He penned about 200 books – novels, plays and biographies – and had very long fingers, as you can see. The stories he wrote for a magazine edited by his friend Charles Dickens were often substantially rewritten by Dickens (who, incidentally, hoped that Percy might marry his daughter). It says something about Fitzgerald that he took this as a compliment.

Percy Foote | Naval Officer | 1879-1961
Percy Wright Foote – it has to be said – never put a foot wrong. His career in the US Navy was exemplary, and he was respected as a fine commander of every type of naval vessel. He was distantly related to George Washington – a fact that makes Percy's profound patriotism all the more fathomable.

Percy Ford | Racing Driver | 1888-1962
An apt surname for a motoring enthusiast. What do you mean he doesn't look like a racing driver? I doubt if that's all he would like to be known for... but this is how he shows up on the Web – very modestly. The Indy 500 stats are brief: entered 8 races, finished 3, all in 1921.

Percy Foreman | Defense Attorney | 1902-1988
Wrong surname for a trial lawyer, but never mind. As the son of a Texan sheriff, he was perhaps an unlikely opponent of capital punishment. Out of 1500 death-penalty cases he lost only 53, and only one client of his was executed. Most famously, he defended the accused killer of Martin Luther King Jr.

Percy Freeman | Footballer | 1945-2016
Best-known for his prowess as a forward, playing primarily for Lincoln City and then West Bromwich Albion, he is invariably described in the local papers as a “much-loved character”, partly, I imagine, due to his rather idiosyncratic hairstyle – or was that a fairly regular look for 70s footballers? Percy also worked as a bouncer and scaffolder as a younger man, eventually running his own roofing business after retiring from professional football.

Percy French | Songwriter, Entertainer | 1854-1920
If you like antique Irish songs you will know Are Ye Right There Michael? and Slattery's Mounted Foot – just two of Percy's many popular compositions from the 1890s. Renowned for his comic monologues and banjo-playing, he surely must have also captivated people with that mighty moustache.

Percy Garnham | Parasitologist | 1901-1994
On his 90th birthday, Garnham was hailed as “the world's greatest living parasitologist”. To me, this accolade suggests he was some kind of vampire... indeed, the more I look at his face the more sinister it becomes, and there is a slight smirk on his lips, as if he knows he could tell you things you would not want to hear.

Percy Gibson | Theologian | 1909-2003
He doesn't look like a Percy Gibson, and Joan Collins's fifth husband has the same name, which is not a fact I am proud to know, but no matter – the Rev. Dr Percy Gibson we see here is the real deal: a distinguished scholar and educator in the Bahamas, where he was born and raised.

Percy Grainger | Pianist, Composer | 1882-1961
Even if I knew nothing about him (not that I know a lot) his unruly hair and impish Harpo Marx-like features would make me want to listen to his compositions. What he gave to the world of music seems to be both wild and disciplined (well, he was into BDSM), and it is significant that in his own judgement he did not achieve most of his musical ambitions. His work is difficult to categorise. He wrote exquisite miniature pieces demanding a high level of skill and technique, and also experimented with odd machines that he hoped would produce “free music” with no human interpretation at all. He once performed his most famous work, The Warriors, with 19 pianos and 30 pianists. Unconventional, and a bit bonkers. However, he is respected in the UK for making dozens of field recordings (by phonograph) of British folk musicians, despite being an Australian-born American citizen. A paradoxical Percy.

Percy Grant | Priest | 1860-1927
His middle name was Stickney, which somehow befits those well-oiled dark curls he appears justly proud of here. Harvard-educated, his Christianity had a strong socialist bent (he wrote Fair Play for the Worker in 1918) which brought him into conflict with his local Bishop. When he became engaged to Rita de Acosta Lydig, a fascinating Cuban socialite with two very wealthy ex-husbands, the Bishop unsurprisingly forbade the marriage. Percy resigned his rectorship and died three years later. Let's hope he kept his hair looking this lustrous for when he met his maker.

Percy Greg | Writer | 1836-1889
Greg's novel Across The Zodiac (1880) features a journey to Mars in an “astronaut” (his original name for a spacecraft) powered by apergy (anti-gravitational force). Superb Victorian sci-fi! Greg did arrive on Mars eventually: this 66km glacial crater was given his name in 2010.

Percy Hampton | Construction Worker, Political Activist | b. 1951
This is his High School photo from 1968. He got involved with the Black Panther Party in 1970, becoming its distribution manager in Portland, Oregon. The local police and the FBI were not cool with that. In an interview in 2011 he said he left the Panthers to avoid being killed. Understandable.

Percy Hansen | Army Officer | 1890-1951
I am ashamed to admit I laughed when I first saw this photograph. He might appear rather effete but Percy was in actual fact awarded the Victoria Cross (for his rescue of several men from capture by the enemy in Gallipoli in 1915) and was given twelve distinguished service medals too.

Percy Haswell | Actor | 1871-1945
Yes, an actual woman, not a transvestite or what have you. I think the rare feminine use of Percy in Haswell's day might have come from Persephone, the fearsome Queen of the Underworld. If so, the deadly connotation might help to explain why there are so few female Percys.

Percy Heath | Bassist | 1923-2005
It's all in the fingers. He played hard bop and cool jazz in the Modern Jazz Quartet. A lot of people who love jazz have very strong views on the MJQ, both for and against. Jazz is a high art form in one context; a down and dirty good time music in another. So Percy's tuxedo signifies a lot.

Percy Hennell | Photographer | 1911-1986
He is best-known for his medical photographs in the 1940s and 50s of badly burned aircrew during the course of their plastic surgery. These colour photographs were produced by a fadeless process he developed himself and were first published in the Medical Manual of Chemical Warfare (1943) and Atlas of Air Raid Injuries (1944). Hundreds of the original prints, still unfaded, are in the library of the Royal College of Surgeons. You can see some online, as they occasionally appear in contemporary photographic exhibitions, but prepare to be shocked.

Percy Herbert | Actor | 1920-1992
It's like I'm looking at a picture of an uncle, or a man I used to know vaguely... as a boy I must have seen him in so many films that his spud-like features got imprinted somewhere in my brain. He was in big movies like The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) and The Guns of Navarone (1961), and also very popular TV series such as Danger Man and The Saint.

Percy Hill | Chartered Accountant | 1888-1950
Born in Lancashire, he left England aged 18 to work as an accountant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, staying there for 13 years before moving to Australia. He was a keen amateur photographer of street scenes in Kuala Lumpur in the 1910s and his glass negatives can be viewed in the National Museum of Singapore.

Percy Hobart | Military Engineer | 1885-1957
Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE CB DSO MC, nicknamed “Hobo”, is a top-notch Percy who was knighted for his services in WWII. By most accounts he was a difficult man whom his superiors disliked. They favoured horses in battle; he preferred tanks. The tanks won.

Percy Holloway | Barber | 1926-2017
From his obituary: “Percy was an extremely friendly man, a kind-hearted and loyal individual, who always went out of his way to show how much he cared about others. It did not matter if you were a casual acquaintance or longtime friend, he treated everyone with compassion and thoughtfulness.” Easy now.

Percy Hooper | Goalkeeper | 1914-1997
His looks remind me of the young Elvis Presley (except for the hair). A sorrowful face. Perhaps he was unlucky in love – or was yearning to be a popular singer. Born in Lambeth, he played in goal for Spurs in the 1930s. Amazing to note he was born 20 years before Elvis and died 20 years after him.

Percy Horton | Artist | 1897-1970
I feel disposed to like him because (a) he is from my home town – his father, also named Percy, was a Brighton bus conductor; and (b) in 1916 he chose to be a conscientious objector, and served two years' hard labour. That degree of moral and physical courage is just plain admirable.

Percy Hoskins | Journalist | 1905-1989
Sometimes mistaken for his friend Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980), who was similarly rotund and also just as fascinated by criminals. Percy liked to entertain senior police officers in his flat at 55 Park Lane, where he heard things that proved rather useful for his crime reportage in the Daily Express.

Percy Hughes (1) | Philosopher | 1872-1952
Born in India (then part of the British Empire) of missionary parents, he lived in London before arriving in the USA at 16 and entering academia, eventually becoming a prolific writer on education and psychology, and a lifelong friend of the progressive educational reformer John Dewey.

Percy Hughes (2) | Mailman, Saxophonist | 1922-2015
Percy was a full-time postman in his native Minneapolis for 30 years, while achieving local fame as a leader of nightclub bands, also teaching saxophone and volunteering as a tennis coach for kids. He had a Mohawk heritage and a huge family (around 30 great-grand-children). Not exactly a quiet life.

Percy Jeeves | Cricketer | 1888-1914
His biographer says he was “not just a top cricketer but a lovely man”. In 1912 P. G. Wodehouse, a big cricket fan, saw him play for Warwickshire and noted his “quintessentially English” character; in 1913 he wrote a story with a valet in it and named him Jeeves. You know the rest...

Percy Julian | Chemist | 1899-1975
The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy became a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. Now publicly honoured by academia and scientific institutions, it is astonishing to read about the racist oppression he experienced during his early life and most of his career.

Percy Jocelyn | Clergyman | 1764-1843
The Bishop of Clogher (Northern Ireland) was famously caught in flagrante delicto with a young soldier in a back room at The White Lion Pub in Haymarket, London, one summer evening in 1822, causing a national scandal. He is cruelly depicted here in a popular cartoon of the time.

Percy Jones | Bass Guitarist | b. 1947
Jones the Bass is how he might be known had he not left mid-Wales where he taught himself bass guitar at 16. Now based in New York, he is a renowned exponent of the fretless bass in the “jazz fusion” idiom. (Contemporary bassist Percy Purseglove must get a mention here – if that is his real name...)

Percy Kelly | Artist | 1918-1993
He once wrote that he would prefer to starve than sell a single piece of his work, and he did indeed spurn several dealers and collectors who liked his pictures. In later life he became Roberta Kelly but is best known for his art as Percy, especially his dark and moody Cumbrian landscapes.

Percy Kemp | Novelist | b. 1952
He was born in Beirut to a British father and a Lebanese mother. When he's not working as a Middle East risk analyst and contributing to academic journals, he writes spy novels in French. Un Percy un peu compliqué. Can you see the sense of humour flickering between his eyes and his mouth? I find it almost hypnotic.

Percy Kilbride | Actor | 1888-1964
This is not really Percy himself – he is posing as “Pa Kettle”, the part for which he is best known, having starred in ten very popular “Ma & Pa Kettle” comedies, made in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s, about a large hillbilly family. His humorously lugubrious face looks just right for pure cornball comedy.

Percy Knauth | Journalist | 1914-1995
A successful journalist and freelance writer, he suffered a seriously debilitating depressive illness at the age of 58. His book A Season in Hell (1975), a bravely personal account of depression, broke new ground at the time. (You might say ‘North’ but he pronounced it ‘Kernowt’, apparently.)

Percy Lambert | Racing Driver | 1881-1913
The first man to drive 100 miles in an hour – in a 4.5 litre Talbot “Invincible”, averaging 103mph over 38 laps, at Brooklands in 1913. Film taken at the time is both impressive and sad to watch. He tried a faster run a few months later, but a tyre failure spun him off and he did not survive the crash.

Percy Lau (1) | Illustrator | 1903-1972
A Peruvian Percy who spent most of his life in Brazil. He was a highly regarded pen & ink illustrator there in the 1930s and 40s, and his simple, naturalistic (drawn from life), black & white pointilliste style still looks good today. There is something very evocative about these drawings.

Percy Lau (2) | Designer | b. 1989
The youngest Percy in the gallery is from Hong Kong and now based in London, after studying at Central St Martins and winning awards. It is odd that she shares a name with a Peruvian man; but in some Asian countries Percy is not as rare a name – for either sex – as you might imagine.

Percy Lewis | Artist, Writer | 1882-1957
Oh, you moody so-and-so. I know he is more famous as Wyndham Lewis but Percy was his actual first name and the campness of this photograph appeals to me a lot – self-consciously posed to perfection and a bit of a piss-take too. Like several of his books, in fact. Or is he deadly serious? I can't quite make him out...

Percy Lewis (again) | Artist, Writer | 1882-1957
Same Percy, different mood. He is the only one to appear twice in this gallery, simply to illustrate the obvious truth that the impression you form of a person from one photograph can be significantly changed by looking at another. He appears rather pallid here – more sensitive, anyway.

Percy Lindsay | Artist | 1870-1952
Note the huge bow-tie. An Australian landscape painter and “Bohemian” artist, the eldest of ten siblings (four of whom were also artists); his biographical articles all mention his happy, care-free personality and ebullient sense of humour. A great way to be remembered! His paintings are good too.

Percy Ling | Pub Singer | 1906-1982
Can't you just smell the beer and roll-ups... as well as muddy boots – this is rural Suffolk. At 13 he worked as a bird-scarer for 2/6d a week and was an agricultural labourer around Snape Maltings for most of his life. Highly regarded for his singing and storytelling, he was part of a now fading tradition.

Percy Longhurst | Self-Defence Instructor | 1880-1950 (approximate dates)
Percy's book Jiu-Jitsu & Other Methods of Self-Defence was in print from 1906 to the 1950s, and has recently been reissued. Unusually for its time, it was written for women as well as men. (Incidentally, one of his associates was called Percy Bickerdike. I know nothing about him, but what a name!)

Percy Loraine | Toff | 1880-1961
“I say, old boy – dash it all, what?” OK, yes, I am being rude calling him a toff as if that's his job. There are several facts related to Sir Percy that make him unbelievably posh, but the only thing I want to tell you about him is this: one of his best friends was called Sir Lancelot Oliphant. That's a top-hole toff.

Percy Lowell | Astronomer | 1855-1916
Unlike most Percys, he was actually Percival – an even rarer name. For 15 years he studied the “canals” on Mars as evidence of civilisation. How wrong can a man be? His error did help others understand the optical illusions large telescopes produce – but Martian irrigation channels? Not so much.

Percy Lozano | Healer | b. 1973
Would you believe it – a real shamanic Percy? Amazonian shamanism seems to be a booming business these days, but reading Percy's website about his use of ayahuasca does not tempt me to go to Peru for a week of psychic retching under his spiritual guidance, despite the sweet smile and fancy headgear.

Percy Lund | Photographer, Printer, Editor, Publisher | 1863-1942
A prolific Yorkshireman, publisher of The Practical Naturalist, A History of Photography, The Practical Photographer and The ABC of Theosophy amongst many other titles. Percy was also a popular lecturer on photographic topics. His name lives on in the art & design book publishing company Lund Humphries.

Percy MacKaye | Dramatist | 1875-1956
Like Percy Burrell, he saw the dramatic arts as socially unifying. In 1912 he proposed large-scale, theatrical public events for “the conscious awakening of the people to self-government”. One of his “civic masques”, performed in St Louis in 1914, involved 7500 actors and performers.

Percy MacMahon | Mathematician | 1854-1929
Three-quarters profile portraits like this are typical of his era. The sitter turns away from the camera, ignoring us, while we get a good look at him. We see that the curve of his moustache is perfectly in view, and wonder why his left eyelid seems to droop. Then, at some point, we simply stop looking.

Percy Marmont | Actor | 1883-1977
The hat is spellbinding! He had major roles in several silent movies, notably with Clara “It Girl” Bow in Mantrap (1926). As an English resident of Hollywood he rented out rooms in his mock-Gothic castle for a small fortune and apparently had a lot of customers. Must have been the hypnotic hat.

Percy Mashaire | Teacher | b. 1963
He grew up on a farm near Harare and after qualifying as a teacher left Zimbabwe to go to Finland to study at the University of Helsinki, where he gained an MSc in social sciences. The African diaspora has been extraordinary for centuries – single stories like this make it all the more striking.

Percy Mayfield | Singer, Songwriter | 1920-1984
“The world gives you back what you give to the world / If you give love, you will get love in return / But if you give the world hate, well, somehow through fate, hate is bound to be your ruin” – from How Deep Is The Well (1951). Percy has an appealing baritone voice with a lot of blues inflection and a sincere delivery. Please Send Me Someone To Love is Mayfield in his prime, but his greatest gift to the world surely must be Hit The Road Jack, as recorded by Ray Charles & The Raelettes in 1961. Is there anyone who doesn’t like this song?

Percy Metcalfe | Sculptor, Designer | 1895-1970
A tough-looking bloke and a veteran of WWI. There is a 1920s photograph of him sculpting a huge lion for an industrial exhibition, but mainly he designed coins and medals – owing to his war wounds, he could not stand for long enough to work on large sculptures, which were his real passion.

Percy Miller | Rapper | b. 1970
Born and raised in New Orleans and widely known in hip hop circles as “Master P”, Percy is – according to Wikipedia – an entrepreneur, investor, businessman, songwriter, actor, author, philanthropist, film maker, and basketball player. Even more impressively, he has a daughter named Cymphonique.

Percy Montgomery | Rugby Player | b. 1974
A bit of Springbok beefcake. Now retired, he was notorious for playing terribly and superbly in the same match. There is a TV sports show that gives an award, “The Percy”, for the worst play on a field during that week's rugby, and “The Anti-Percy” for the best. He himself has taken both, naturally.

Percy Morris | Trade Unionist, Politician | 1893-1967
His spectacles may be accurately described as superbly ‘percyesque’, in my view. A Swansea man, born and bred, and a Labour stalwart. His first wife was killed during the German bombing of Swansea in 1941. We think mostly of women losing their men in the war, but it was often the other way round of course.

Percy Nanayakkara | Information Technology Consultant | 1937-2013
As a youth in Sri Lanka, Percy Nanayakkara won a gold medal in British Ballroom Dancing. An oddly pleasing fact. He was a Superintendent of Examinations, then worked around the world before settling in New York, where he became an IT adviser to a Buddhist monastery. Another satisfying fact.

Percy Nilsson | Businessman | b. 1943
Percy was Chairman of the Malmö Redhawks ice hockey club for 20 years or so. A former nightclub owner, he was often excited by big business deals (his construction company built the Malmö Arena) and was once charged with making “dubious disbursements”. Who would have thought it?

Percy Nix | Cigar Importer, Cyclist | 1863-1909
Brixton Ramblers Bicycle Club proclaimed him “World Amateur Champion” in 1884 and 1885. Percy was a Freemason and provided 150 handmade Cuban cigars for his Lodge’s consecration banquet. This photo shows part of a 1880s bicycle (now in the transport museum in Coventry, England) called a “Percy Nix”.

Percy Nobbs | Architect | 1875-1964
Oh dear... as if a man called Percy doesn't already have enough of a handicap when it comes to being taken seriously... a surname like this is just no help at all. However, in 1902 he built the Arts & Crafts-style Fire Station on Euston Road in London and it is still in daily use, so the last laugh is on Nobbs.

Percy Norton | Butcher | 1913-2017
Pictured on his 100th birthday – all the more remarkable because he was given three months to live after sustaining serious injuries from a bomb blast just after D-Day. “I put my long life down to hard work and a healthy diet.” (Why is it never “day-dreaming and eating plenty of chocolate”?)

Percy Padden | Artist | 1886-1965
An arty pipe-smoking Percy is surely crucial for any collection, so I was glad to find this self-portrait by Padden, as I like some of his 1930s travel posters. He was a contemporary of Percy Drake Brookshaw (1907-1993), who did some brilliant poster designs for the London Underground, but I haven't found a picture of him unfortunately.

Percy Parker | Fashion Designer | b. 1970
There is a daft cartoon character of the same name who sings songs aimed at helping kids to learn multiplication tables, but this Percy is a London-based fashionista who designs, makes and sells trendy stuff, and I think he also runs a nightclub and a music label. Impressive! He's so, like, totally now.

Percy Parslow | Hamster Breeder | 1914-1983
Percy was a hugely influential figure in the colourful history of hamster breeding in Britain. He wrote a number of classic guides, and became President of the National Hamster Council. At its peak, his famous hamster farm in Surrey kept 3000 animals in stock and bred about 250 every day.

Percy Perrin | Cricketer | 1876-1945
Perrin is one of a surprisingly large number of cricketing Percys. His portrait from a Wills's cigarette card series – big collectors' items now of course – is a good example of the retouched and hand-coloured photographic reproduction process widely used back then.

Percy Phillips | Studio Engineer | 1896-1984
In 1958 a local skiffle group, The Quarrymen, came to his tiny studio to make a disc. Lennon and McCartney sang... blah-blah... the rest is history. Percy is said to have had other proto-Beatles tapes, but later wiped them. Oops. (No relation to Sam Phillips, who was the first to record Elvis.)

Percy Pierce (1) | Automobilist | 1878-1940
Percival Pieronnet Pierce (now there's a name to reckon with) was well-known in his day as a successful competitor in endurance driving contests held in the USA as well as Europe. Uncoincidentally, his father manufactured bicycles, motorcycles and the famously luxurious Pierce-Arrow cars.

Percy Pierce (2) | Model Aircraft Designer | 1894-1962
He began designing and exhibiting model airplanes at the age of 12, and won records for longest flights in the 1910s. After WWI (when he flew real planes) he manufactured the Loop-O-Plane, a 10-cent slingshot-launched glider, and became editor of Fly, an early aeronautical publication. Great hat!

Percy Pilcher | Aviator | 1866-1899
He built a hang glider called The Hawk and in 1897 at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire broke the world distance record by flying it 820 feet. During a demonstration flight in 1899 the tail snapped and he fell 30 feet to the ground. End of Percy. An impressively tall monument still stands at the fatal spot.

Percy Pinkerton | Translator | 1855-1946
Let me explain: the real Percy Pinkerton was a translator of literary works and librettos but as there is no photo of him to be found, I have used another PP, from Sgt Fury & His Howling Commandos (Marvel Comics) – not that I ever read that stuff, but it's good to find Percys in unexpected places.

Percy Pocock | Photographer | 1858-1952
It is probable that this Percy (who has lovely wavy hair) took one or two of the photographs in this collection, as he is clearly a Victorian, like many Percys here. The person behind the camera is often lost to history but records in the National Portrait Gallery in London show that this man was born in Bloomsbury, lived and worked in the capital all his life, and died in the northern suburb of Hendon. So here's to Percy Pocock, in all his formal portrait finery.

Percy Press | Puppeteer | 1902-1980
The uncrowned King of Punch & Judy did his traditional show on Hastings Pier for many years, was Chairman of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, and in 1974 appeared on Desert Island Discs. Percy had a son named Percy, who was a Punch & Judy man too. It's a funny old world.

Percy Qoboza | Journalist | 1938-1988
Percy Peter Tshidiso Qoboza was a sharply eloquent critic of the apartheid regime in South Africa, mainly through his widely read “Percy's Pitch” column in the Soweto-based newspaper The World. He was deported. On his return in 1984 he wrote a new column called “Percy's Itch”.

Percy Reboul | Pensioner | b. 1930
Here is a local news photo of Percy and Dottie after her extrication from a public park drainage pipe. The rescue took several hours. I found out that Percy used to work for Bakelite and had been Chairman of the Plastics Historical Society, whose journal is the brilliantly titled Plastiquarian. Nice!

Percy Reed | Hairdresser | b. 1915
He looks more like 70 in this photo taken on his 100th birthday. Born and bred in Cambridge, England, Percy set up his first salon in Trumpington Street in 1934 and it is now run by two of his grandchildren. He was a bandmaster in the Salvation Army for many years and is an ex-Mayor of Cambridge.

Percy Rodriguez | Actor | 1918-2007
Admired as Dr Miles in Peyton Place, here he is as Commander Stone in an original episode of Star Trek, when it was still remarkable for a black actor to play an authority figure. Later he intoned the famous words “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...” for the Jaws II trailer.

Percy Rogers | Obstretician | b. 1926
His memoirs describe a full life that has included the delivery of hundreds of babies, developing Australia’s first birthing centre, successfully campaigning for the removal of lead from petrol, preventing freeways being built through Melbourne’s inner suburbs, and delivering health services to remote communities in the Northern Territory and the South Pacific.

Percy Ross | Philanthropist | 1916-2001
This is the face of a guy from Michigan who made a fortune out of polythene plastic bag production and gave away about $25m of it through his “Thanks a Million” newspaper column and syndicated radio show. People called him a vulgar, egotistical show-off. So? He should worry.

Percy Sands | Footballer | 1881-1965
After originally training as a teacher, Percy spent 17 years at Arsenal (London) in centre-half position. Known as “Mr Reliable”, he played 350 games altogether for his club (a record that stood for 15 years). The high starched collar is surprising until you note his birth year – he grew up in the Victorian era.

Percy Schmeiser | Farmer | 1931-2020
To Green activists he was a hero. Monsanto said he was a liar and a thief – he stood up to them on a point of principle and they took him to court. Monsanto won the legal case but Percy claimed a moral victory and got the Mahatma Gandhi Award in 2000 – the corporation's lawyers must have loved that!

Percy Schramm | Historian | 1894-1970
An intriguing expression. As a Professor in Göttingen, his specialist field was imperial iconography. As a Wehrmacht Major, he was selected to be the official High Command staff historian. Not your average academic job. His apparent non-condemnation of Nazism in a book about Hitler published in 1963 was a tad controversial.

Percy Shadwell | Product Developer | b. 1959
According to his blog he is known as “Butch” – not on account of this dainty hat, I guess. He lives in Florida but is seen here well-shaded in Kenya, where he installed an experimental portable solar power system in a remote rural school in 2011 as part of the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge.

Percy Sharpe | Hospital Porter | 1898-1977
He lived all his life in Preston, Hertfordshire. In an interview when he was 73, he recalled the days when the men of the village made the weekly trip to the well, with big pails hanging from wooden yokes. It sounds initiatory – a clear way to mark the end of boyhood: just to go and carry water with the men.

Percy Shaw | Road Contractor | 1890-1976
In 1934 Percy patented “reflecting road studs”, a.k.a. the “Cat's Eye”. This invention made him a vast amount of money, but he never moved out of his childhood home in Halifax. Stories are told about his eccentric life there, but I am most taken with the fact that he was the youngest of 11 siblings.

Percy Bysshe Shelley | Poet | 1792-1822
The subject of several plays, films and novels as well as academic studies, Shelley seems to endure in our imaginations as an archetypal image of the Eternal Rebel, or a Fallen Angel of some kind. Called “mad” by many people during his lifetime, he probably had what we now call bipolar disorder.

Percy Sledge | Singer | 1940-2015
The tune for When A Man Loves A Woman, his first recording and a massive hit in 1966, was his own, but he gave the composition credit to two friends who had helped him with the lyrics. A little naïve, perhaps, but in keeping with the artistic persona Percy projected: an honest, uncomplicated guy.

Percy Smith (1) | Film Maker | 1880-1945
A pioneer of scientific film making, especially extreme close-up shots of insects (notably The Acrobatic Fly in 1910, which showed a bluebottle “juggling”) and early stop-motion filming (especially The Birth of a Flower, also in 1910). His work truly astonished audiences at the time, and it is still amazing.

Percy Delf Smith (2) | Artist, Printmaker, Typographer | 1882-1948
In my early research I failed to find a photograph of him, so instead I selected a corner of a font sheet he drew – signed off with his charming monogram – for the London Underground in the 1920s. It is a ‘petit-serif’ based on Edward Johnston's original ‘Railway’ (also called ‘Underground’) typeface from 1916. Percy's rarely used font can still be seen at Sudbury Town (on the Piccadilly line). Later on I came across some of his wartime drawings, including this unassuming self-portrait from 1941.

Percy Smock | Collector | 1904-1979
This is cropped from a photo of Percy gazing lovingly at part of his enormous collection of antique typewriters in California, sometime in the 1950s. I have no further information at all about Mr Smock, unfortunately, but it is nevertheless a great pleasure to include a real collector in my collection.

Percy Spencer | Engineer | 1894-1970
Don't tell me you have never wondered what kind of hairstyle the inventor of the microwave oven had. Well, I reckon ‘short back & sides, messy on top’ just about covers it. Another interesting fact about Percy is that two of his friends were Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Yeh, them.

Percy Stallard | Racing Cyclist | 1909-2001
In 1942 he was expelled from the National Cyclists’ Union for organising a now historic road race against its rules, and although he refused a British Cycling Federation award in 1988 for services to the sport, Percy is still remembered as a fearless enthusiast who re-introduced massed-start road-racing to Britain.

Percy Steele | Social Worker, Civil Rights Leader | 1920-2002
Plenty of satisfying 1950s period detail in this photo. Percy was an influential civil rights leader in California, and Executive Director of the Bay Area Urban League for 25 years. Known as a committed consensus builder, he worked with people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, setting up innovative schemes to place minority workers in jobs previously denied to them.

Percy Sutton | Lawyer | 1920-2009
I love the expression on his face, which is exactly how I would want to look if I were a lawyer having my mugshot taken: bored, condescending, patient, unruffled. All essential qualities in Percy's case especially, as he was Malcolm X's legal representative and no doubt regarded as a dangerous man.

Percy Sykes | Veterinarian | 1920-2014
Trainers loved him. Punters knew him as “the doctor they call for when all hope is lost”. His reputation for treating injured or sick racehorses was second to none, and he was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame following his retirement. A horsey Percy par excellence.

Percy Tait | Motorcyclist, Farmer | 1929-2019
Percy was at one time in the Royal Corps of Signals Motorcycle Display Team (the “Red Devils”) and after a long career as a professional motorcycle road racer and engine developer for Triumph (clocking up over a million miles of road testing) he became an award-winning breeder of rare sheep.

Percy Taylor | Musician | 1882-1912
There is a discussion here about whether Taylor played violin or viola in the orchestra on the Titanic, while on other websites dedicated to the disaster he is listed as a cellist or a pianist. The facts are also uncertain about what the band actually played as the ship sank. But we do know he died.

Percy Thompson | Music Hall Entertainer | 1874-1953
Showbiz people often start very young. Aged 5, he was billed as “Little Percy Thompson who will give his Noted Clog Dance”. Later on he became Percy Honri, “The World's Greatest Concertinist”. He also acted a bit, and given his magnificent profile I'm not surprised. He's got a fine head on him.

Percy Thrower | Gardener, Broadcaster | 1913-1988
The knitted waistcoat, neat collar and tie and shiny hair – it must be the 1950s. A celebrated Percy, to be sure, but let us not forget his TV colleague Percy Picton (1904-1985). When one Percy is friends with another we could get into a sort of “Six Degrees of Percy” game, but better not...

Percy Tibbles | Illusionist | 1881-1938
Percy Thomas Tibbles was better known as P. T. Selbit (i.e. Tibbles backwards, minus one b), and is credited with being the first person to perform the illusion of sawing a woman in half, which he did to great acclaim at the Finsbury Park Empire in 1921. The woman was his assistant Betty Barker, not a member of the audience. Other magicians developed the trick so that any woman, not merely an accomplice, could be cut in two – but why it was always a woman is open to question. Plain old-fashioned sexism? Size and suppleness might have had something to do with it. It is pertinent to note that men were not sawn in half for amusement until the 1960s – mostly by the accomplished escapologist Dorothy Dietrich, not a noted feminist but a woman who refused to be straight-jacketed, as it were, by patriarchal showbiz traditions, perhaps. Anyway, back to our Percy. His previously most successful illusion was called “The Mighty Cheese” (don't ask) but, inexplicably, no slicing was involved.

Percy Ure | Archaeologist | 1879-1950
His other-worldly look is a bit disturbing but there is no doubting his dedication to the study of Greek and Egyptian antiquities, along with his wife Annie Ure, who was curator of the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology at Reading. “Is this Ure's or mine?” was, I hope, a well-used quip in the Ure household.

Percy Vear | Boxer | 1911-1983
Meet Mr Herman Vear from Bingley, who in his youth boxed professionally under the irresistible name of Percy Vear (85 fights, 43 wins) then worked all his adult life for the Rustless Iron Co. Ltd as a shot blaster. His grandson now runs the Percy Vear Real Ale House in Keighley. Cheers!

Percy Verwayne | Actor | 1895-1968
Born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in South America, he moved to New York and worked in radio, theatre and film for three decades, often playing parts that called for great physical toughness. Percy is seen here in very fine costume as the original “Sportin' Life” character (a dope dealer) in the 1927 Broadway play Porgy, the precursor to George Gershwin's controversial 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. In 1941 there was a report in a New York newspaper, headed “Mugger Gets Wrong Victim”, when a young man robbed Mr Verwayne of 75 cents only two blocks from the actor's home in Harlem. Apparently, Percy immediately gave chase, grabbed the youth by the seat of his pants, “socked him into submission” and had the situation completely under control by the time the cops arrived. Pretty tough off-stage as well as on, it would seem.

Percy Waters | Tatooist | 1888-1952
Some faces are hard to read – or the more you look the less you see... I notice his full mouth most of all, and start to imagine him inflicting pain on someone... and then his features seem neither compassionate nor cruel but actually indifferent... and now I get a sense of a man with a dark secret...

Percy Watts | Train Driver | 1898-1985
Distinctly trustworthy eyebrows, I would say. Percy was a mainline driver for the Midland Railway for 44 years, and was Secretary of Leicester No. 4 Branch of the NUR for 25 of them. The eyebrows have a resolute quality too. He was made Lord Mayor of Leicester, his home town, aged 75.

Percy F. Westerman | Author | 1876-1959
Scary chin! You can see the jaw forming a stiff upper lip. Manliness was certainly of great interest to this prolific writer of adventure stories for boys, with titles like The Lad of Grit (his first book in 1908), By Luck and Pluck and Dangerous Cargo. Sea-going was a big theme for Percy, a native of Portsmouth: he wrote Sea Scouts All, Sea Scouts Abroad, Sea Scouts Up-Channel and Sea Scouts Alert, along with Mystery Island, Desolation Island, The Nameless Island and The Isle of Mystery. You get the impression he didn't work too hard on his titles. The Riddle of The Air, The Terror of The Seas, The Secret of The Plateau, The Lure of The Lagoon – there were several like that. But I've saved the best to last: Standish of The Air Police, Standish Gets His Man, Standish Loses His Man, Standish Holds On and – a massive relief – Standish Pulls It Off. Percy himself definitely pulled it off: his books sold over 1,500,000 copies in his lifetime.

Percy Weston | Farmer, Author | 1903-2004
This photo is from the cover of his 2000 book Cancer Cause and Cure, which blames modern fertilisers. Apparently he cured himself and many other people by eating only organically-grown food and taking his patented Percy's Powder supplement. He died percyfully in his sleep, aged 101.

Percy Whitlock | Organist, Composer | 1903-1946
Wonky glasses and a wan demeanour – yes indeed, a wonderfully nerdy Percy. As well as being Bournemouth's organist-in-residence, he was a train-spotter – or “tireless railways enthusiast”, according to The Percy Whitlock Trust website – which means he was a real geek too. Excellent.

Percy Williams | Athlete | 1908-1982
Here is a real tragedy. “The World's Fastest Man”, as he was known in 1928, was declared Canada's greatest track athlete in 1972. When he committed suicide, people who knew him could not explain why. The truly tragic thing is, the gun he used had been awarded to him at the 1928 Olympics.

Percy de Wolfe (or DeWolfe) | Mail Carrier | 1880?-1951
No ordinary postman. Fancy a 200-mile route near the Yukon-Alaska border? He did that for 40 years in all kinds of weather, travelling by horse or 10-dog sled. Just thinking about it makes me feel cold. In his honour, a dog sled race called The Percy is held annually along the banks of the Yukon River.

Percy Wong | Plant Pathologist | b. 1947
Of course he could just as well be called Dave Smith, but to my mind he looks exactly like a Percy Wong (stereotypically, to be sure). Dr Wong has studied the biology of plant diseases for over 20 years, specialising in turf pathology. Needless to say, his work has raised a lot of turf questions.

Percy Wyndham | Soldier | 1833-1879
The moustache, at its best, was 20" wide. His life story is as extraordinary as his facial hair. He was born on a warship in the English Channel (his father was a Royal Navy Captain) and began his military career at 15, fighting with the anti-royalist French forces in the 1848 Revolution. After further service in the French Navy, and then the British Royal Artillery, he led a squadron in the Austrian army before resigning to enlist with Garibaldi's troops in the Second Italian War of Independence. In the American Civil War he fought for the Union as a leader of cavalry units. Later implicated in a mad plot to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, he left the US army and got involved in various unsuccessful business enterprises, mainly oil refining, and briefly ran an Italian opera company. After a stint as Commander of the Burmese army he settled in Calcutta and took up ballooning. He died when a giant hot air balloon he had built exploded at 300 feet. His body was never found.

Percy X | Earthling | Dates unknown
This space is dedicated sentimentally to all past Percys, long gone or recently departed, and those yet to come: the famous, infamous and superbly ordinary Percys of the future. And while I'm being sentimental, I would also like to say hello to my cat, who is actually the only Percy I know.

Percy Yellow Fly | Community Leader | 1928-2005
I am not sure of his profession or trade but his obituary says he served on many committees for the Siksika Nation (in Alberta, Canada) and that he would be remembered in his community as a wise Patriarch and Guide. He must have liked alliteration: his two children were Sharon and Sherman.

Percy Yutar | Attorney-General | 1911-2002
He was South Africa's first Jewish Attorney-General and Mandela's prosecutor, arguing strongly for the death sentence. Despite the anti-semitism he faced during his career, he supported apartheid. Mandela invited him to lunch after becoming President. Apparently they got on just fine.

Percy Zachary | Football Player | 1927-2007
Percy, from Sioux City, was “the first African-American to win all Big-Ten honours in football at Minnesota University in 1952”. I don't fully understand that fact but can appreciate what it means. He went on to become a Director of Social Services but his obituary is all about his sporting achievement.

Percy Zahl | Nanoscientist | b. 1973
His job is to use Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy to measure the surfaces of various materials to a billionth of a metre. Blimey. His hobby is long-distance cycling and he rides 10,000 miles a year. Blimey. Moreover, his surname is German for ‘number’. Conclusively a numeronominal Percy.