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Barrett, John [Jacky] (1753/4–1821), classical scholar and eccentric, was born in Ballyroan, Queen's county, the son of Daniel Barrett (d. 1760), a Church of Ireland clergyman, and his wife, Rossamund Gofton (d. 1782). Although baptized John he was universally known as ...

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Elizabeth Christiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1787 Chatsworth House. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Cavendish [née Hervey; other married name Foster], Elizabeth Christiana, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824), society hostess and patron of the arts, was the middle daughter of Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth earl of Bristol (1730–1803), and his wife, Elizabeth Davers (1730–1800), and was known for most her life as ...

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Henderson, John (1757–1788), student and eccentric, was born on 27 March 1757 at Ballygarran, near Limerick, the only child of Richard Henderson (1736/7–1792), an Irishman, and his wife, Charlotte (d. 1775). The family came to England about 1762, and Richard became one of ...

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Alfred Hyman Louis (1829–1915) by Histed © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Louis, Alfred Hyman (1829–1915), scholar and visionary vagrant, was born in 1829 in Birmingham, the eldest son of Hyman Tobias (or Tobar) Louis, a well-to-do merchant, and his wife, Maria. At fifteen he entered King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he began long friendships with ...

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Margrie, William (1877–1960), philosopher and eccentric, was born at 202 St George's Road, Camberwell, south London, on 7 April 1877, the youngest of five children of William Leslie Margrie, a carpenter and joiner who later had a builder's and house decorator's firm in ...

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William Martin (1772–1851) by George Patten, c. 1821 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomas Seccombe

revised by Anita McConnell

Martin, William (1772–1851), eccentric and self-proclaimed philosopher, was born on 21 June 1772 at the Twohouse, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, the eldest of four sons of (William) Fenwick Martin (d. 1813) and his wife, Isabella (d. 1813), daughter of Richard Thompson, a farmer. The second son, ...

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Shields, Cuthbert [formerly Robert Laing] (1840–1908), historian and eccentric, was born on 21 March 1840 in George Street, North Shields, Northumberland, the first child of Robert Laing, master mariner, and his wife, Charlotte Sophia, daughter of Dr Charles Coleman of Maidstone, Kent...

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Frederick Arthur Simpson (1883–1974) by Adrian Savage, 1929 The Master and Fellows, Trinity College, Cambridge

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Simpson, Frederick Arthur (1883–1974), historian and eccentric, was born at Caldbeck in Cumberland on 22 November 1883, the second son in the family of two sons and one daughter of William Frederick Simpson, rector of the parish, and his wife, Frances, daughter of ...

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Thistlethwayte, Robert (bap. 1690, d. 1744), college head and subject of sexual scandal, was the third son of Francis Thistlethwayte (b. 1658) of Winterslow, Wiltshire, where the Thistlethwayte family had held the manor since the sixteenth century, and of Compton Valence, Dorset...