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Barber [née Bowker], Mary Elizabeth (1818–1899), poet and natural historian, was born at Manor Farm, South Newton, Wiltshire, on 5 January 1818, the ninth child and first daughter of Miles Bowker (1758–1839), woollen manufacturer and sheep farmer of Gateshead, and Anna Maria (...

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Bentinck, Margaret Cavendish [née Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785), collector of art and natural history specimens and patron of arts and sciences, was born on 11 February 1715 in London, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, later second earl of Oxford...

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Margaret Cavendish Bentinck [Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785) by Joseph Brown, pubd 1861 (after Christian Friedrich Zincke, 1738) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Boate, Arnold (1606–1653), biblical scholar and writer on natural history, was born in Gorinchem in the Netherlands, a younger son of Godefroy de Boot (c.1570–1625), knight, and Christina van Loon (fl. 1600–1630). With his elder brother Gerard Boate he studied arts and medicine at the ...

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Boate, Gerard [formerly Gerrit Boot] (1604–1650), physician and natural historian, was born in Gorinchem, the Netherlands, one of five children born to Godefroy de Boot (c.1570–1625), soldier and author, and Christina van Loon (fl. 1600–1630). He entered the University of Leiden...

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Bolton, James (bap. 1735, d. 1799), natural history artist and mycologist, was baptized on 23 November 1735; he was probably born on a farm in the Calder valley, Yorkshire. He was the younger son of a weaver, William Bolton (or Boulton). His elder brother, ...

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Courten [alias Charleton], William (1642–1702), naturalist and collector, was born in London on 28 March 1642, the son of William Courten, who died insolvent at Florence in 1655, and Lady Katherine Egerton, daughter of John Egerton, first earl of Bridgewater. Sir William Courten (c. 1568–1636)...

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Cuming, Hugh (1791–1865), conchologist and collector of natural history specimens, was born in the village of Washbrook, near Kingsbridge, south Devon, on 14 February 1791, one of three children born to Richard and Mary Cuming. He may have acquired an interest in conchology from ...

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Hugh Cuming (1791–1865) by Maull & Polyblank, c. 1855 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Davidson, Thomas (1817–1885), natural history artist and palaeontologist, was born in Edinburgh on 17 May 1817, the eldest of the three children of William Davidson, the wealthy owner of Muirhouse and other Midlothian estates, and his wife, Jane, daughter of Alexander Horsebrugh of ...