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See Patch, Henry John [Harry]

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Arthur (supp. fl. in or before 6th cent.), legendary warrior and supposed king of Britain, has an attested career that is entirely posthumous. From obscure beginnings in British legend, he became internationally known in the twelfth century, particularly through the success of Geoffrey of Monmouth's...

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Atkins, Thomas [Tommy] (d. 1794), soldier and epitomist of the British infantryman, remains an obscure figure but is thought, according to the most reliable accounts, to have been a private serving in the 33rd regiment of foot during the Netherlands campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. On 15 September 1794 ...

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James Barry (c. 1799–1865) by unknown photographer, c. 1860 [left, with a servant] Trustees of the Army Medical Services Museum

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Barry, James (c. 1799–1865), army medical officer and transvestite, was probably born Margaret, the youngest daughter of Mrs Mary Ann Bulkley or Bulkeley, the sister of the artist James Barry; her paternity is in doubt. From the age of ten she dressed and presented herself as a man, but the woman who laid out her corpse declared that she was female: 'The Devil, a General,' said the attendant. 'It's a woman. And a woman that has had a child' (...

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Chester, Charles (c. 1554–1604), informer and wit, probably born in Bristol, was one of ten children of Dominic Chester (d. 1575), merchant and MP, and his wife, Mary (d. 1572), the daughter of Roger Barlow, merchant and explorer, and his wife, ...

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See Patch, Henry John [Harry]

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Christison, Sir (Alexander Frank) Philip, fourth baronet (1893–1993), army officer, was born at 40 Moray Place, Edinburgh, on 17 November 1893, the elder of the two sons and eldest of five children of Sir Alexander Christison, second baronet (1828–1918), surgeon-general in the Bengal...

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Sir (Alexander Frank) Philip Christison, fourth baronet (1893–1993) by Vandyk, 1948 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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John Travers Cornwell (1900–1916) by unknown photographer The Imperial War Museum, London

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Cornwell, John Travers [Jack] (1900–1916), naval hero, was born on 8 January 1900, at Clyde Cottage, Clyde Place, Leyton, Essex, the son of Eli Cornwell (1852–1916), tram driver and soldier, originally from Newmarket, and his wife, Lily King (d. 1918). His siblings included at least two brothers (one of whom was killed in action in August 1918) and a sister. He was educated at ...

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John Crawford (1775–1831) by D. Orme, pubd 1797 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Crawford, John [Jack] (1775–1831), sailor and naval hero, was born on 22 March 1775 at a house on Thornhill Bank in the east end of Sunderland, co. Durham, the son of a keelman. At an early age Crawford also worked on the keelboats that carried coal on the ...

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Davies [née Cavenaugh], Christian [Catherine] [alias Christopher or Richard Welsh; called Mother Ross] (1667–1739), female soldier, was, according to The Life and Adventures of Mrs. Christian Davies (1740), born Christian Cavenaugh in Dublin. She was raised by her parents on a farm at ...

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Des Barres, Joseph Frederick Wallet (1721–1824), hydrographer and colonial official, was born in November 1721, either in Basel, Switzerland, or in Paris, the eldest child of Joseph-Léonard Vallet des Barres, a Huguenot, and his wife, Anne-Catherine, née Cuvier. He was baptized Joseph-Frédéric Vallet...

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Gordon, William James (1864–1922), West Indian soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross, was born on 19 May 1864 in Jamaica. His precise birthplace and parents' names are unknown, as are details of his life before July 1885, when he enlisted in the ...

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Greville, Algernon Frederick (1798–1864), army officer and private secretary, was born on 29 January 1798, the second son of Charles Greville (1762–1832), fifth son of Fulke Greville of Wilbury, Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Charlotte (d. 28 July 1862), eldest daughter of ...

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Hessel [née Smith], Phoebe (1713–1821), female soldier and centenarian, was probably born in Stepney, London. Her father was a 'drummer in the king's service' (Circulator, 147), but further details of her parents and upbringing are unknown. A tombstone in St Nicholas's churchyard, Brighton...

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Dorothy Lawrence (1887/88–1964) by unknown photographer, 1915 The British Library

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Lawrence, Dorothy (1887/8–1964), journalist, soldier, and sexual impostor, was of uncertain origins, but by 1911 was a freelance journalist living in Kensington, London.

In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Lawrence was living in Paris. She contacted several British newspapers, offering to work as a war correspondent from the front line in ...