Issac Newton, John Lock, Robert Hooke, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon...etc.
Was 17th century England somehow more conducive to excellent new ideas or was it no more outstanding than the rest of 17th century Europe?
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It was clearly a remarkable period for English scientific thought, but historians of science bicker about why. One very good reason might be the work of Sir Francis Bacon, essentialy the founding father of British 'natural philosophy. By the 1640's he had followers, described by Robert Boyle as the 'invisible college', which may refer to a group of early experimentalists who were meeting at Gresham College in London from 1645 until 1663, when they became The Royal Society. Charles the Second at the Restoration in 1660 became intersted in the groups activities. Royal patronage clearly fostered the growth of science. Perhaps the key political event, from the point of view of proto-scientists and philosophers was the 'Glorious Revolution'of 1688. By the turn of the 18th Century, Britain was regarded as the most progressive, the freest country in Europe, widely admired by the early French philosophes for its free thinking and political liberties. Science and philosophy need freedom in which to operate, I would wish to argue.
Certainly, social and economic conditions in England are responsible for this. Wikipedia says this shortly:
By the early 17th century, England was a centralized state, in which much of the feudal order of Medieval Europe had been swept away.
(the article Capitalism). Similar process went on in Holland, Germany and France, but Germany was not a centralized state, in France the feudal order was swept away only a century later, and Holland was too small in comparison with England.
Apparently in the very beginning of 17 century England became the most advanced country in all respects. Why industrial revolution happened in England earlier than elsewhere? Why the revolution against absolutism happened in England first? All these things are interrelated, and a complete answer would include an analysis of the whole history of England.
By the way the greatest advance of science in France happened shortly before and after the French revolution, but this was in the next century. So apparently development of capitalism and political freedom are responsible for surges of intellectual activity.
EDIT. Britain clearly takes the lead only in the later half of 17th century. In the earlier half there were Kepler in Austria, Galileo in Italy, Descartes, Fermat and Pascal in France, and no comparable figures in Britain, except Napier.