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Abel, Sir Frederick Augustus, first baronet (1827–1902), chemist and explosives expert, was born on 17 July 1827 at Woolwich, the eldest son of Johann Leopold Abel (1795–1871), a music master in Kennington, and his wife, Louisa (d. 1864), daughter of Martin Hopkins...

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Sir Frederick Augustus Abel, first baronet (1827–1902) by Frank Bramley, 1900 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Adams, Andrew Leith (1827–1882), army surgeon and naturalist, born on 21 March 1827, was the son of Francis Adams (1796–1861), surgeon, and his wife, Elspeth Shaw (d. 1845). Appointed army surgeon in 1848, Adams joined the 22nd (Cheshire) regiment and was posted to ...

Article

Alexander, (Conel) Hugh O'Donel (1909–1974), chess player and cryptanalyst, was born in Cork on 19 April 1909, the eldest of four children of Conel William Long Alexander (1879–1920), professor of engineering at University College, Cork, and his wife, Hilda Barbara Bennett (1881–1964), of ...

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Ambler, Geoffrey Hill (1904–1978), inventor and air force officer, was born at 10 Kirklands Avenue, Baildon, near Bradford, Yorkshire, on 23 June 1904, the eldest child in the family of two sons and one daughter of Frederick Ambler (1873–1932), a worsted spinner and manufacturer, and his wife, ...

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Anderson, Sir John (1814–1886), inventor of ordnance manufacture machinery and arsenal manager, was born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, on 9 December 1814, the posthumous child of a local merchant, J. Anderson, and his wife, Helen Hosie. His mother remarried and his stepfather, Irvine Kempt...

Article

See Babbage, Charles

Article

R. E. Anderson

revised by Anita McConnell

Babington, John (bap. 1604, d. after 1635), soldier and mathematician, was baptized on 21 August 1604 at St Nicholas Acon in the City of London, the son of John Babington and his wife, Dorothie Rosse. No details of his life are known beyond those disclosed in his book ...

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Bagnold, Ralph Alger (1896–1990), soldier and geomorphologist, was born on 3 April 1896 at the Manor House, Stoke, Devonport, the second of two children born to Major Arthur Henry Bagnold (1854–1943) of the Royal Engineers, and Ethel (1866–1931), the daughter of William Henry Alger...

Article

H. M. Stephens

revised by James Falkner

Baker, Sir William Erskine (1808–1881), army officer and engineer, was the fourth son of Captain Joseph Baker RN, and was born on 29 November 1808 at Leith. He was educated at Ludlow and at Addiscombe College (1825–6), and after attending an extended engineering course while a cadet he went out to ...

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Edward Bancroft (1744–1821) by Nathan Branwhite, pubd 1801 (after Samuel Medley, 1800) [Institutors of the Medical Society of London; standing, far left] © Copyright The British Museum

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Bancroft, Edward (1744–1821), chemist and spy, was born at Westfield, Massachusetts, on 9 January 1744. His tutor was Silas Deane, later a member of the American congress. After a brief apprenticeship to a physician in Connecticut, Bancroft went to sea at the age of eighteen. In 1763 he was in ...

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Bauzá, Felipe (1764–1834), hydrographer, was born in Palma, Majorca, in the Spanish Balearic Islands. He entered the Spanish navy at the age of fifteen, and experienced active service as he rose through the ranks. His career as a hydrographer began under Tofiño y Varela...

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Sir Francis Beaufort (1774–1857) by Stephen Pearce, 1855–6 © National Maritime Museum, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection

Article

J. K. Laughton

revised by N. A. M. Rodger

Beaufort, Sir Francis (1774–1857), naval officer and hydrographer, was born on 27 May 1774 at Flower Hill, Navan, co. Meath, the second son of the Revd Daniel Augustus Beaufort (1739–1821), rector of Navan, a topographer and architect of some distinction, and his wife, ...

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Beckett, Allan Harry (1914–2005), engineer, was born on 4 March 1914 at 294 Central Park Road, East Ham, London, the son of George William Harry Beckett, accounting clerk, and his wife, Emma Louise, née Stokes. He was originally given the first name Basil...

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Frederick William Beechey (1796–1856) by Stephen Pearce, 1850 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Beechey, Frederick William (1796–1856), naval officer and hydrographer, son of Sir William Beechey, RA (1753–1839), and his second wife, Anne Phyllis Beechey, née Jessop (1764–1833) [see under Beechey, Sir William], the miniature painter, was born on 17 February 1796. His brothers were ...

Article

J. K. Laughton

revised by Andrew Lambert

Belcher, Sir Edward (1799–1877), naval officer and hydrographer, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 27 February 1799, the second son of Andrew Belcher (1763–1841), a merchant in Nova Scotia who moved to England in 1811 and settled at Roehampton, Surrey, and his wife, ...

Article

[Anon.]

revised by Alastair W. Massie

Bell, John (1746/7–1798), army officer and inventor, was born in the parish of St Cuthbert's, Carlisle, the eldest son of William Bell, hatter, of Botchergate, Carlisle. He was baptized at St Cuthbert's Church on 22 February 1747. After working in the family business, ...