On what subject? Well, I would argue for identifying those for whom the results of their effectiveness is of the type that persists (see Academic/Scientist/Artist). Nathaniel (see below) emerged early in the search for descendants, which was cursory. To date, we've been looking at the early times; a focus like this might help bridge the gaps and provide a thread coming forward.
Aside: Ever notice how mathematics builds incrementally (with the occasional big leap, of course)? That is, there may be current hot shots, but no theorem is ever repackaged such that the original thinkers are not given a nod for their work. As well, there is no leap except from a basis (to wit, Isaac's recognition of his predecessors).
Nathaniel (parents: Habakkuk, Mary - he descends from sons Thomas and George) is interesting, in this respect, for several reasons; one of these is his stature as an autodidact.
Aside: Another thing about mathematics is that one does not need a lab. Yet, there are more barriers to entry now than before. The whole of the jargon has expanded. Some think that Henri was the last of the polymaths.
As we can see, Nathaniel had the aptitude to learn without tutorage. Too, he was able to find an application that was, and continues to be, of usefulness. Then, he had the fortune to have access to the material (Richard_Kirwan's library). Of course, that he mastered Latin and French on his own ought to be noted.
Aside: There are several motivations for this tact which will be discussed further. But, as a preview, consider how computational mathematics can lead to a dampening of our soul's glory, if we are not careful. Too, the times of the mass influx, and the thinkings of those periods, are pertinent to understanding some of today's problems.
08/16/2011 -- The autodidact pages on wiki changed.