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Alexander, Alexander (b. 1781/2), soldier and writer, was born in Dundonald, Ayrshire, the illegitimate son of a wealthy Scottish merchant. Almost everything known about him comes from his remarkable autobiography, published in Edinburgh in 1830. After what he recalled as an unhappy childhood marred by physical violence, at the age of eighteen he was sent to work as an overseer on slave plantations in ...

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Bertie, Peregrine, thirteenth Baron Willoughby of Willoughby, Beck, and Eresby (1555–1601), nobleman and soldier, was born on 12 October 1555 in Wesel, Cleves, the only son of Richard Bertie (1517–1582), landowner and religious evangelical, and his wife, Katherine [see Bertie, Katherine, duchess of Suffolk (1519–1580)...

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Bingham, Sir Richard (1527/8–1599), soldier and president of Connacht, was the third son of Robert Bingham of Melcombe-Bingham, Dorset, and his wife, Alice, daughter of Thomas Coker of Mappowder in the same county. His elder brothers were Robert and Christopher; he also had two sisters and five younger brothers, ...

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Blood, Thomas (1617/18–1680), adventurer and spy, was born at Sarney, co. Meath. His early life is obscure, but it was later claimed that his father (who was possibly Neptune Blood) was a blacksmith and ironworker, 'serious, honest and of no inferior credit' (...

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Blount, Charles, eighth Baron Mountjoy and earl of Devonshire (1563–1606), soldier and administrator, was the second son of James Blount, sixth Baron Mountjoy (1532/3–1581), nobleman [see under Blount, Charles, fifth Baron Mountjoy], and his wife, Catherine (d. 1576), daughter of ...

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Bourchier, John, second Baron Berners (c. 1467–1533), soldier, diplomat, and translator, was the son of Sir Humphrey Bourchier (d. 1471) and Elizabeth (d. 1497), daughter and sole heir of Frederick Tilney of Boston, Lincolnshire. His father, a Yorkist, was killed at the battle of ...

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Brandon, Charles, first duke of Suffolk (c. 1484–1545), magnate, courtier, and soldier, was the second but only surviving son of Sir William Brandon (d. 1485) and his wife, Elizabeth Bruyn (d. 1494) of South Ockendon. The manner of Sir William's death, killed at ...

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Bréauté, Sir Falkes de (d. 1226), soldier and royal favourite, was of obscure Norman parentage. One reasonably reliable source, which described him as 'small in stature but very valiant', stated that he was the son of a Norman knight by a concubine (...

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Brooke, George, ninth Baron Cobham (c. 1497–1558), soldier and landowner, was the eldest surviving son of Thomas Brooke, eighth Baron Cobham (d. 1529), and his first wife, Dorothy Heydon. He accompanied his father in attending Mary Tudor to her marriage with Louis XII of France...

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Camoys, Thomas, Baron Camoys (c. 1350–1420/21), administrator and soldier, was the son of John Camoys and heir of his uncle Thomas, Lord Camoys. The uncle died on 11 April 1372, and his lands were given to the heir on 12 October. Camoys served with the retinue of his kinsman ...