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Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg, first Baron Acton (1834–1902), historian and moralist, was born at Naples on 10 January 1834, the only child of Sir Ferdinand Richard Edward Acton, seventh baronet (1801–1837), and Marie Louise Pelline de Dalberg (1812–1860), the French-bred heir of ...

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John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902) by Eveleen Myers, 1890s © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aikenhead, Thomas (bap. 1676, d. 1697), freethinker and blasphemer, was baptized on 28 March 1676, the son of James Aikenhead (d. in or before 1683), apothecary and burgess of Edinburgh, and his wife, Helen (d. 1685), daughter of Thomas Ramsey, former minister of ...

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John Westby-Gibson

revised by David Huddleston

Ashe, Jonathan (b. 1766), Church of Ireland clergyman and freemason, was born at Limerick, the son of Jonathan Ashe. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 26 March 1783, took his BA in 1787, and became BD and DD in 1808. He was ordained a deacon in the ...

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Attlee [née Millar], Violet Helen, Countess Attlee (1895–1965), charity fund-raiser and prime minister’s wife, was born at Heathdown, East Heath Road, Hampstead, on 20 November 1895, the youngest of eleven children of Henry Edward Millar (1856–1912), a commission merchant in import/export trade, and his wife, ...

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Ball, William Platt (1844–1917), freethinker and author, was born on 28 November 1844 at 12 Regent Row, Birmingham, the son of Abraham Ball, copper plate printer, and his wife, Mary Platt. He was educated at the Birkbeck Institute, London, and was briefly a schoolteacher before resigning in protest against religious instruction. In 1866 he matriculated at the ...

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Barham, Francis Foster [known as Alist Francis Barham] (1808–1871), transcendentalist, was born on 31 May 1808 at Leskinnick, Penzance, Cornwall, the youngest of the five sons of Thomas Foster Barham (1766–1844), musician and writer, and his wife, Mary Ann, daughter of the ...

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Beesly, Edward Spencer (1831–1915), positivist and historian, was born on 23 January 1831 in Feckenham, Worcestershire, the eldest son of the Revd James Beesly and his wife, Emily Fitzgerald, of Queen's county, Ireland. After reading Latin and Greek with his father, in the autumn of 1846 he was sent to ...

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Edward Spencer Beesly (1831–1915) by Barraud © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blount, Charles (1654–1693), freethinker and author, was born at Upper Holloway, Islington, Middlesex, on 27 April 1654 and baptized at Highgate Chapel, Hornsey, on 10 May 1654, the fourth son of Sir Henry Blount (1602–1682), traveller, of Tittenhanger, Hertfordshire, and his wife, Hester (...