William Wilberforce, the driving force behind the abolition of slavery, has been named as the greatest Yorkshireman
William Wilberforce received a unanimous vote
The Hull-born reformer was chosen by a panel of judges from public nominations considered in a BBC North TV programme, 'Yorkshire Greats', on Sunday.
Panel chairman Richard Whiteley said: "His contribution to the reform of the civilised world is amazing."
Whitby explorer Captain James Cook and Castleford sculptor, Henry Moore, came second and third respectively.
Wilberforce, the son of a wealthy merchant, was born in 1759 in Hull and represented the city as MP.
He campaigned tirelessly for the abolition of slavery, with the campaign succeeding shortly after his death in 1833.
Mr Whiteley said the final vote from the judging panel had been unanimous.
The judges had sifted through 82 different names nominated by Look North viewers, local radio listeners and users of BBCi internet sites.
Nominations included Constantine, Emperor of Rome, who was born in York, Guy Fawkes, Arthur Scargill and Thomas Crapper - inventor of the flushing toilet.
Richard Whiteley said: "We were looking for the person who had contributed something formidable affecting a lot of people world-wide."
There was strong support for two living Yorkshire women, former Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, and charity fundraiser Jane Tomlinson who is fighting cancer, who both reached the final five.
But the judges decided to rule out living nominees on the basis that it was impossible to tell how they would be judged by history.
The final 12 nominees short-listed by the panel were Titus Salt, the Brontes, Judi Dench, Len Hutton, Fred Trueman, Joseph Rowntree, Harold Wilson, John Harrison, William Wilberforce, Henry Moore, Betty Boothroyd and Jane Tomlinson.
The judges were Richard Whiteley, businesswoman Christine Yorath, TV cook Susan Brookes, arts broadcaster Paul Allen and restaurateur Hansa Dabhi.