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William Thomas Beckford (1760–1844) by George Romney, 1781–2 National Trust Photographic Library / John Hammond

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Beckford, William Thomas (1760–1844), writer and art collector, was born on 29 September 1760 at one of his father's houses, in Westminster or Fonthill, Wiltshire, and baptized at Fonthill on 6 January 1761, the only legitimate son of William Beckford (bap. 1709, d. 1770)...

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Beit, Sir Otto John, first baronet (1865–1930), financier, philanthropist, and art connoisseur, was born on 7 December 1865 in Hamburg, Germany, twelve years after his brother Alfred Beit. He was the third son of Siegfried Beit (1818–1881), silk merchant, and his wife, Laura Caroline Hahn (...

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Sir Otto John Beit, first baronet (1865–1930) by H. Walter Barnett © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Benson, Robert Henry [Robin] (1850–1929), merchant banker and art collector, was born on 24 September 1850 at Fairfield House, Fairfield, near Manchester, the eldest of three children of Robert Benson (1814–1875), merchant banker, and his wife, Eleanor (1824–1883), daughter of Vice-Admiral Constantine Moorsom...

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Bernal, Ralph (d. 1854), politician and art collector, was of Jewish descent and came from a family of Spanish origin. He was the only son of Jacob Bernal (d. 1811) of 7 Fitzroy Square, London, was born at Colchester, Essex, and was educated at ...

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Blundell, Henry (1724–1810), art collector, was born at Ince Blundell, Lancashire, the son of Robert Blundell (d. 1773) and his wife, Katharine, daughter of Sir Stanley Rowland, bt, of Hooton, Chester. Like many Catholics he received his education abroad, first at the college of the English Jesuits at ...

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Bowes, John (1811–1885), coal industrialist and art collector, was born at 13 South Street, Chelsea, London, on 19 June 1811, the illegitimate son of John Bowes, tenth earl of Strathmore (1769–1820), and Mary (1787–1860), the daughter of George and Ann Milner of Stainton, co. Durham...

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Boyle, Richard, third earl of Burlington and fourth earl of Cork (1694–1753), architect, collector, and patron of the arts, was born on 25 April 1694 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, the only son of Charles Boyle, second earl of Burlington and third earl of Cork...

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Richard Boyle, third earl of Burlington and fourth earl of Cork (1694–1753) by Jonathan Richardson the elder, c. 1717–19 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Brett, John Watkins (1805–1863), art collector and telegraph engineer, was born in Bristol, one of at least seven children of William Brett, cabinet-maker. By the age of twelve his enthusiasm for the fine arts was so great that his parents put him under the tuition of ...

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Thomas David Gibson Carmichael, Baron Carmichael (1859–1926) by Sir Benjamin Stone, 1897 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Carmichael, Thomas David Gibson, Baron Carmichael (1859–1926), administrator in India and art collector, was born at Castlecraig, near Edinburgh, on 18 March 1859, the eldest son of the Revd Sir William Henry Gibson Carmichael, tenth baronet (1827–1891), and his wife, Eleanora Anne (...

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William Cartwright (1606–1686) by John Greenhill, mid-1660s by permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery

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Cartwright, William (1606–1686), actor and art collector, was born at the end of December 1606, the son of William Cartwright, actor, and was baptized at St Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street, London, on 1 January 1607. The elder Cartwright was playing for the ...

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Cavendish, William, second duke of Devonshire (1670/71–1729), politician and art collector, was the second but first surviving son of William Cavendish, first duke of Devonshire (1641–1707), and Mary (1646–1710), second daughter of James Butler, first duke of Ormond. Following his father's accession to the ...

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Thomas Coke, earl of Leicester (1697–1759) by Francesco Trevisani, 1717 © Collection of the Earl of Leicester, Holkham Hall, Norfolk / The Bridgeman Art Library

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Coke, Thomas, earl of Leicester (1697–1759), politician, architect, and art collector, was born on 17 June 1697, the eldest of the five children of Edward Coke (1676/8–1707), landowner, and his wife, Carey (1680–1707), the daughter of Sir John Newton, third baronet, of Barr's Court, Gloucestershire...

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Richard Seymour- Conway, fourth marquess of Hertford (1800–1870) by Carjat & Co., c. 1860 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Conway, Richard Seymour-, fourth marquess of Hertford (1800–1870), art collector, was born in London on 22 February 1800, the eldest son of Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, earl of Yarmouth and later third marquess of Hertford (1777–1842), courtier [see under Conway, second marquess of Hertford...