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Addy, Mark Anthony (1840–1890), boatman and life-saver, was born at 2 Stage Buildings, The Parsonage, Manchester, on 13 April 1840, the sixth of eight children of Mark Addy (1801–1865), a joiner who ran a successful boat building and hire business at Stage Buildings...

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Alderson, Thomas Hopper (1903–1965), wartime rescue party leader, was born at Ashburne Stables, Sunderland, on 15 September 1903, the fifth of six children and first son of Thomas Alderson (1864–1945), domestic coachman, and his wife, Sarah Annie, née Hopper (1872–1942). He was educated at a village school; then at ...

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See Patch, Henry John [Harry]

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Axon, John (1900–1957), railwayman, was born on 4 December 1900 at 38 Providence Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport, Lancashire, the fourth of the six children (four daughters and two sons) of William Henry Axon (b. 1869/70), a renderer and later an electric wireman, and ...

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Ayres, Alice (1859–1885), domestic servant and heroine, was born in Isleworth, Middlesex, on 12 September 1859, the fourth daughter and seventh of ten children of John Ayres (1820–1889), labourer, and his wife, Mary-Ann, née Harris (1826–1895). She attended the village school in Isleworth...

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Alice Ayres (1859–1885) by unknown artist, 1885 © Illustrated London News Ltd / Mary Evans

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Baillie, Lady Grisell (1665–1746), heroine and business woman, was born on 25 December 1665 at Redbraes Castle, Berwickshire, the eldest survivor of the eighteen children of Sir Patrick Hume (or Home) of Polwarth, later first earl of Marchmont (1641–1724), and Grisell Kerr (...

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Barry, Thomas Bernardine (1897–1980), Irish revolutionary and folk hero, was born on 1 July 1897 in Killorglin, co. Kerry, the eldest son and second of eleven children of Thomas Barry, a policeman, and his wife, Margaret Donovan, both of co. Cork. After Tom...

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Bywater, (Richard) Arthur Samuel (1913–2005), munitions factory official, was born on 3 November 1913 at 1 Teignmouth Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham, the third son of Walter Bywater, clerk at a tinplate works, later chief clerk of stores at the Austin Motor Company, Longbridge, Birmingham...

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Cavell, Edith Louisa (1865–1915), nurse and war heroine, was born on 4 December 1865, the first child of the Revd Frederick Cavell (1825–1910), Church of England clergyman, and his wife, Louisa Sophia (1835–1918), née Warming, in Swardeston vicarage, Norfolk. Her father, a graduate of ...

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Edith Louisa Cavell (1865–1915) by unknown photographer, 1915 © 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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Grace Horsley Darling (1815–1842) by Harold Perlee Parker, 1838 RNLI

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Darling, Grace Horsley (1815–1842), heroine, born at Bamburgh, Northumberland, on 24 November 1815, was the daughter, and the seventh of nine children, of William Darling and his wife, Thomasin, née Horsley. William Darling in 1815 succeeded his father as keeper of the lighthouse on ...

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Dickson, Margaret [called Half Hanged Maggy Dickson] (d. in or after 1753), survivor of execution, is of unknown parentage. She lived in Musselburgh, about 6 miles from Edinburgh, with her fisherman husband, a Mr Dickson, with whom she had several children, and made a living in the town's salt-making industry. After her husband was press-ganged into the navy ...

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Abraham Esau (1864–1901) by unknown photographer © reserved / Cambridge University Press

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Esau, Abraham (1864–1901), blacksmith and hero, was born on 12 September 1864 in the northern Kenhardt district of Cape Colony, the eldest son of several children of Adam Esau, semi-skilled general labourer, and his only wife, Martha April, domestic farm servant. Nothing is known of his parents, other than that they led an itinerant working existence for many years on farms and in villages in the northern and ...