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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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Booth, Charles (1840–1916), shipowner and social investigator, was born on 30 March 1840 at 27 Bedford North Street, Liverpool. He was the third son of Charles Booth (1799–1860), a prosperous corn merchant, and his first wife, Emily Fletcher (1803–1853). Both his parents were Unitarians, and had wide connections among the commercial, dissenting, and philanthropic ‘aristocracy’ of ...

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Charles Booth (1840–1916) by George Frederic Watts, c. 1901 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Branford, Victor Verasis (1863–1930), sociologist and businessman, was born at 15 West Street, Oundle, Northamptonshire, on 25 September 1863, the eldest surviving son of William Catton Branford (1837–1891), a veterinary surgeon, and Ann Kitchen (1826–1871), the sister of his father's deceased first wife. His father spent two short periods as professor in the veterinary college in ...

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Bridges, John Henry (1832–1906), positivist and medical administrator, was born on 11 October 1832 at the vicarage, Old Newton, Suffolk. Slight, fair-haired, and fine-featured, he was the third of five children of the Revd Charles Bridges (1794–1869), a well-known evangelical, and his wife, ...

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Congreve, Richard (1818–1899), positivist, was born at Leamington Hastings, Warwickshire, on 4 September 1818, the third son of Thomas Congreve, a farmer, and his wife, Julia. After attending the school run by his uncle Walter Bury in Boulogne, he spent five years (1832–7) at ...

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Cotton, Sir Henry John Stedman (1845–1915), administrator in India and positivist, was born in Kumbakonam, Madras presidency, south India, on 13 September 1845, the first of two sons of Joseph John Cotton (1813–1867), East India Company servant, and his wife, Jessie Minchin, daughter of a ...

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Crompton, Henry (1836–1904), barrister and positivist, was born at Liverpool on 27 August 1836, the second of five sons and three daughters of Sir Charles John Crompton (1797–1865), judge of the queen's bench, and his wife, Caroline Fletcher. The eldest son, Charles Crompton (1833–1890), QC...

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Edwards, Matilda Barbara Betham (1836–1919), writer, was born on 4 March 1836 at Westerfield, Suffolk, the fourth daughter of Edward Edwards (c.1808–1864), a farmer, and Barbara (1806–1848) daughter of the Revd William Betham (1749–1839), antiquary. Her father was known as the best farmer thereabouts, and through her upbringing she coupled a deep understanding of farming with literary traditions from her mother's side, nourished from an early age by literary letters from her aunt and godmother ...