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Adomnán [St Adomnán] (627/8?–704), abbot of Iona and writer, who became known to history as the ninth abbot of Iona and the outstanding Irish churchman of his day, was born of the royal line of Cenél Conaill, a dynasty which formed part of the over-kingdom of the northern ...

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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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Alexander Alexander (b. 1781/22) by Thomas Hodgetts, pubd 1830 (after Sir John Watson-Gordon) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Francis Espinasse

revised by Douglas Brown

Anderson, Robert (1749–1830), literary scholar and biographer, was born on 7 January 1749 at Carnwath in Lanarkshire, the son of William Anderson (1718/19–1759), a feuar, or copyholder, and his wife, Margaret Melrose (1720/21–1797). On the death of his father the family was left in straitened circumstances, but ...

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Ashley, (Anthony) Evelyn Melbourne (1836–1907), politician and biographer, born in London on 24 July 1836, was the fourth son of Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh earl of Shaftesbury (1801–1885), politician and social reformer, and his wife, Emily (1810–1872), daughter of Peter Leopold Cowper, fifth Earl Cowper...

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(Anthony) Evelyn Melbourne Ashley (1836–1907) by Spy (Sir Leslie Ward), pubd 1883 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aubrey, John (1626–1697), antiquary and biographer, was born on 12 March 1626 at Easton Pierse near Kington St Michael in north Wiltshire, the eldest of the three surviving sons of Richard Aubrey (1603–1652), who owned estates at Burleton in Herefordshire and at Broad Chalke...

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John Aubrey (1626–1697) by William Faithorne the elder, 1666 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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Baggerley, Humphrey (fl. 1648–1654), army officer and supposed biographer, was among the troops who on 9 October 1648 surrendered at Appleby, Westmorland, to superior parliamentarian forces under Colonel Assheton. The royalist soldiers were granted very generous terms and, having been allowed his freedom, ...

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Balfour [née Lytton], Elizabeth Edith [Betty], countess of Balfour (1867–1942), social hostess and biographer, was born on 12 June 1867 at Hyde Park Gate, London, the eldest of the five surviving children of Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, first earl of Lytton (1831–1891), viceroy, diplomat, and poet, and his wife, ...