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Bonetta [née Davies], (Ina) Sarah Forbes [Sally] (c. 1843–1880), Queen Victoria's ward, was born in west Africa (in the south-west of modern-day Nigeria) about 1843, of Yoruba descent. Few details are known about her family besides their massacre by forces loyal to the Dahomian monarch, ...

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(Ina) Sarah Forbes Bonetta (c. 1843–1880) by Camille Silvy, 1862 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Sir Falkes de Bréauté (d. 1226) drawing Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

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Robert Carr, earl of Somerset (1585/6?6–1645) by John Hoskins, c. 1620 The Royal Collection © 2004 HM Queen Elizabeth II

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Carr [Kerr], Robert, earl of Somerset (1585/6?–1645), favourite of James I, was born in Scotland, probably in 1585 or 1586, the youngest son of Thomas Ker (d. 1586), laird of Ferniehirst, and his second wife, Jean (Janet) Scott (b. c. 1548, d. after 1593)...

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Cochrane, Thomas [Robert] (d. 1482), royal favourite, has left few traces in official records, and much of what is known about him is drawn from later chronicles, above all the histories of Lesley (1568–70), Pitscottie (c.1579), and Buchanan (1582). All these writers see ...

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Delany [née Granville; other married name Pendarves], Mary (1700–1788), court favourite and artist, was born at Coulston, Wiltshire, on 14 May 1700. The elder daughter of Bernard Granville (1671–1723) and his wife, Mary Westcomb (d. 1747), she was widely connected in court and political circles. Her father's elder brother was ...

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Mary Delany (1700–1788) by John Opie, 1782 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Despenser, Hugh, the younger, first Lord Despenser (d. 1326), administrator and royal favourite, was the son of Hugh Despenser the elder (1261–1326) and his wife, Isabel (d. 1306), widow of Payn Chaworth and daughter of William de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (...