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Mary Carleton (1634x4242–1673) by T. Thrumten Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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Carleton [née Moders], Mary [nicknamed the German Princess] (1634x42–1673), impostor, is recorded in contradictory texts, making the accuracy of information about her origins difficult to ascertain. She was probably born Mary Moders in 1642 and baptized on 22 January; however, she is also recorded as being born eight years earlier, while ...

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Crofts, Elizabeth (b. c. 1535), impostor, is of unknown origins. Nothing is known of her before 1554, when she was involved in a cause célèbre that led to her being accused of attempting to undermine the church and the crown. The episode is reported in both Catholic and protestant sources, with no significant variation in detail. On 14 March that year, aged about eighteen, ...

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Evans, Cornelius (fl. 1648), impostor, is said to have been born at Marseilles, of a Welsh father and a Provençale mother. Nothing is known of his early life, but it was reported in 1648 that he spoke English 'not perfectly and in another dialect than it is usually pronounced by Englishmen' (...

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Frankland, Thomas (1632/3–1690), impostor and antiquary, was born in Lancashire; his parents' names are not known. He matriculated from Brasenose College, Oxford, in June 1649, aged sixteen, and graduated BA in February 1653. He was elected a fellow of Brasenose in 1654 and proceeded MA in 1655. The next year he was incorporated MA at ...

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Hatfield, John (c. 1758–1803), impostor and forger, was born at Mottram in Longdendale, Cheshire, one of the many children of a poor estate woodsman. His mother, the daughter of a schoolteacher, taught him to read and write but he received no formal education. After the imprisonment of his father and the death of his mother he was apprenticed to a ...

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La Cloche, Jacques de (1644/1647?–1669), pretended son of Charles II, may have come from Jersey, but nothing is known of his early life or true parentage. He claimed to be the son of Charles II (1630–1685) and he named a woman in his will as '...

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See Tichborne claimant

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Powderham [alias Exeter, Poydras, Tanner], John (d. 1318), impostor, was the son of an Exeter tanner who attained notoriety by treasonably claiming to be the rightful king of England in 1318. Records are meagre: on 20 July William Montagu, the king's steward, was ordered to take him (under the name of ...

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Serres [née Wilmot], Olivia [alias Princess Olive of Cumberland] (1772–1835), royal impostor, was born in Warwick on 3 April 1772, daughter of Robert Wilmot, house painter, and his wife, Anna Maria Brunton. She was baptized on 15 April 1772 at St Nicholas's Church, Warwick...

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Olivia Serres (1772–1835) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1790 © reserved; private collection

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Simnel, Lambert (b. 1476/7, d. after 1534), impostor and claimant to the English throne, was born probably in Oxford, the son of Thomas Simnel, a carpenter, organ maker, or cobbler. His origins are obscure, even in official accounts; his mother is unknown and he may have been illegitimate. Nothing is known of his upbringing....

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Thom [Tom], John Nichols [alias Sir William Courtenay] (bap. 1799, d. 1838), impostor and lunatic, was baptized on 10 November 1799 at St Columb Major, Cornwall, the only son (he had one sister) of William Thom (or Tom), a small farmer and innkeeper, and his wife, ...

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Warbeck, Perkin [Pierrechon de Werbecque; alias Richard Plantagenet, duke of York] (c. 1474–1499), impostor and claimant to the English throne, was, according to the confession he made in 1497, born at Tournai in France, the son of John Osbek, comptroller of the town of ...

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Wilford [Wulford], Ralph (c. 1479–1499), impostor and claimant to the English throne, was the son of a cordwainer who lived at the Black Bull in Bishopsgate Street, London. He was encouraged by an Augustinian friar named Patrick to challenge Henry VII's possession of the throne by impersonating the imprisoned ...