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Æthelthryth [St Æthelthryth, Etheldreda, Audrey] (d. 679), queen in Northumbria, consort of King Ecgfrith, and abbess of Ely, was the daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles (d. 654?). Her immediate kindred was dominated by women in religion, later venerated as saints, including three sisters, ...

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Balthild [St Balthild, Balthilda] (d. c. 680), queen of the Franks, consort of Clovis II of Neustria, was a Saxon, almost certainly born in England, probably in the early or mid-630s. She became a Frankish queen and founded the convent of Chelles, to which she retired during the last years of her life. There she was revered as a saint soon after her death. Her life, written before 690–91 by someone at ...

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Bertie [née Willoughby; other married name Brandon], Katherine, duchess of Suffolk (1519–1580), noblewoman and protestant patron, was the daughter of William Willoughby, eleventh Baron Willoughby de Eresby, a baron whose holdings ran to some thirty manors in Lincolnshire (and almost as many in ...

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Blount, Martha (1690–1763), Roman Catholic gentlewoman, was born on 15 June 1690 at the family estate of Mapledurham, Berkshire, the third child (but second eldest surviving) of six born to Lister Blount (1654–1710) and his wife, Martha (d. 1743), daughter of Anthony Englefield...

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Martha Blount (1690–1763) by Charles Jervas, 1716 [Blount sisters [left to right]: and Teresa Blount (1688–1759)] reproduced by permission of the Mapledurham Trust. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Bolebec, Isabel de, countess of Oxford (c. 1164–1245), magnate and monastic patron, was the eldest daughter of Hugh de Bolebec (d. c.1165), lord of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire, and a patron of the order of Friars Preacher in England. She appears first in the records as the widow of ...

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Christina (fl. 1057–1093), princess and Benedictine nun, was the (perhaps younger) daughter of Edward Ætheling (d. 1057), son of Edmund Ironside (d. 1016), and Agatha (d. in or after 1070), a kinswoman of the emperor Heinrich II or Heinrich III. She was born in ...

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Cynethryth (fl. c. 770–798), queen of the Mercians and abbess of Cookham, was the wife of King Offa and the mother of his son and successor, Ecgfrith [see under Offa]. Her origins are unknown, as is the date of her marriage. She attested her husband's charters on a regular basis from ...

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Eanflæd [St Eanflæd] (b. 626, d. after 685), queen in Northumbria, consort of King Oswiu, was the daughter of Eadwine (d. 633), king in Northumbria, and his wife, the Kentish princess Æthelburh (d. 647). Born on Easter eve (19 April) 626, she was baptized by ...

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Ela, suo jure countess of Salisbury (b. in or after 1190, d. 1261), magnate and abbess, was the daughter of William, earl of Salisbury, and his wife, Eleanor de Vitré. Her father died in 1196, leaving her as his heir, and Richard I...

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Eleanor [née Eleanor Cobham], duchess of Gloucester (c. 1400–1452), alleged sorcerer, was the second wife of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and attracted notoriety when convicted and imprisoned for treasonable necromancy in 1441. The fourth child of Sir Reginald (or Reynold) Cobham of ...

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Eleanor of Brittany (1275–1342), abbess of Fontevrault, the sixth and youngest child of John (II), duke of Brittany (d. 1305), and Beatrice (d. 1275), daughter of Henry III, took the veil at Amesbury probably at the same time as her grandmother ...

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Estaugh [née Haddon], Elizabeth (1680–1762), Quaker leader and colonial landowner, was born on 5 July 1680 in Bermondsey, Surrey, the second daughter and third child of John Haddon (1654–1724) and his wife, Elizabeth, née Clarke (1651?–1724). John Haddon was a convinced Quaker and twice had been fined for voicing his religious views. Like other Quakers he was persuaded by ...

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Helena [St Helena, Helen, Flavia Julia Helena] (c. 248–328/9), mother of the Roman emperor Constantine I, has no historical connection with Britain, despite a widespread belief that she was of British origin. This myth, which stems from a strong medieval tradition resulting in numerous dedications to her, especially in ...

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Honywood [née Waters], Mary (1527–1620), matriarch and sustainer of protestant martyrs, was the daughter and coheir of Robert Waters, esquire, of Lenham, Kent, where she was born. In 1543 Mary married Robert Honywood, esquire, of Charing, Kent. The couple had 16 children and by the time of her death she had 114 grandchildren, 228 great-grandchildren, and 9 great-great-grandchildren. As ...

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Mary Honywood (1527–1620) by unknown artist, c.1620 Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service

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Anne Howard, countess of Arundel (1557–1630) by Wenceslaus Hollar (after Lucas Vorsterman, c. 1626) © Copyright The British Museum

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Howard [née Dacre], Anne, countess of Arundel (1557–1630), noblewoman and priest harbourer, was born in Carlisle on 1 March 1557, the eldest daughter of Thomas Dacre, fourth Lord Dacre of Gilsland (1526?–1566), and his second wife, Elizabeth (d. 1567), daughter of ...

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Margaret [St Margaret] (d. 1093), queen of Scots, consort of Malcolm III, was the eldest child of Edward Ætheling (d. 1057) and his wife, Agatha, who was a kinswoman of the emperor Heinrich II (r. 1002–24). Margaret's father was one of the two sons of ...

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Mary [Mary of Woodstock] (1278–c. 1332), princess and Benedictine nun, was born at Woodstock, Oxfordshire, on 11 or 12 March 1278, the sixth daughter of Edward I (1239–1307) and Eleanor of Castile (1241–1290). Joan, countess of Hertford and Gloucester was her sister. She took the veil at ...