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James Aitken (1752–1777) by unknown engraver, pubd 1777 (after W. Cave) © Copyright The British Museum

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Aitken, James [alias John the Painter] (1752–1777), radical and arsonist, was born in Edinburgh on 28 September 1752 to George Aitken, a blacksmith, and his wife, Magdalen. The eighth of twelve children, James qualified for admission as an impoverished student to Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh...

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Clark, Margaret [Margret] (d. 1680), arsonist, was born in Croydon, Surrey, the daughter of 'honest but mean parentage' (Warning for Servants, 1). She became a servant and was employed by several masters. By the end of January 1680 she had been with ...

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Helliker [Hilliker], Thomas [called the Trowbridge Martyr] (1783–1803), woollen-cloth worker and machine breaker, was the sixth child of Thomas Hilliker (1745–1819) and Elizabeth Ebsworth (1749–1831); he was born at Horningsham, Wiltshire, and baptized there on 17 May 1783. Like his elder brothers ...

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See Farriner, Thomas

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Ludd, Ned (fl. 1811–1816), mythical machine-breaker, was the name signed by the authors of letters threatening the destruction of knitting frames. Luddism emerged initially in the small villages of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire (the address affixed to some of the letters was Sherwood Forest...

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Martin, Jonathan (1782–1838), arsonist, was born at Highside House, near Hexham, the son of (William) Fenwick Martin, a fencing master, and his wife, Isabella, née Thompson. John Martin, the artist, and William Martin were among his twelve siblings. Jonathan Martin was tongue-tied at birth; an operation in his sixth year enabled him to speak, though with some impediment. He was partly brought up by his grandmother, ...

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Mellor, George (c. 1790–1813), machine breaker and assassin, lived at Longroyd Bridge, Huddersfield, where he was employed by his stepfather, John Wood. His parentage is unknown as are the exact date and place of his birth, but he is presumed to have been born in ...

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Penlez, Bosavern (1726–1749), wigmaker and convicted rioter, was born near Exeter. His father was a native of Jersey, and was purportedly educated at Oxford University, although details of his time there have not been found. After Oxford, Penlez's father took holy orders and secured a small preferment near ...

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Swing, Francis [known as Captain Swing] (fl. 1830–1831), mythical incendiarist, was the signatory of letters announcing incendiary raids in the agricultural areas of England, especially in the south, in the autumn and winter of 1830–31. The first 'Swing' letters were recorded in ...