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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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Bertorelli, Joe [Giuseppe Domenico] (1893–1994), restaurateur, was born on 10 June 1893 at Bergazzi di Bardi, Piacenza, Liguria, Italy, the youngest of the four sons of Lazzaro and Marianna Bertorelli. By the time of his birth his father and three elder brothers were already living and working in ...

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Blincoe, Robert (c. 1792–1860), factory apprentice, was a parish orphan who knew neither parent, did not know his place of birth, and was uncertain even about his name. Between the ages of four and seven he was brought up in St Pancras workhouse, London...

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Bowker, Agnes (b. 1541/2), servant and alleged mother of a cat, was the daughter of Henry Bowker, a yeoman or butcher of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, and suffered from fits of 'the falling sickness' or epilepsy. Although she described being once sent to live in ...

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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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Carryl, Mary (d. 1809), servant and friend of the Ladies of Llangollen, was one of at least three children of humble parents from Ross, co. Wexford. Little is known of her background or upbringing, but her forceful personality was apparent at an early age; it was reported that as a young woman 'she went by the name of ...

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Cock, George (bap. 1615, d. 1679), merchant and friend of Samuel Pepys, was baptized at All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 25 April 1615, the son of Garrett Cocke. His family were deeply involved in trade and after his apprenticeship in 1631 to a corn merchant he became an influential and active member of the ...

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G. F. R. Barker

revised by Anita McConnell

Dunstan, Jeffrey (1759?–1797), hawker and ‘mayor of Garrett’, was a foundling reared in the parish workhouse of St Dunstan-in-the-East, in the City of London. At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to a greengrocer, but he ran away to Birmingham, where he worked in the factories. The heavy labour probably added to his deformities, for as an adult he had knock knees, a large head, and grew to a height of only ...

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Jeffrey Dunstan (1759?–1797) by T. Wilkes, pubd 1794 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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 ...

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Godric of Finchale [St Godric of Finchale] (c. 1070–1170), trader and hermit, was born at Walpole in Norfolk to a poor, Anglo-Saxon, farming couple. His father's name was Æilward, his mother's Aedwen (Eadwenna), and he was subsequently joined by a brother, William, and a sister, ...

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Hungerford, Sir Edward (1632–1711), politician, merchant, and spendthrift, son and heir of Anthony Hungerford the royalist (1607/8–1657), and his wife, Rachel Jones (d. 1680), was born on 20 October 1632 at Black Bourton, Oxfordshire. He matriculated at Queen's College, Oxford, in 1649 and was fined ...

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Kem, Joseph [Teddy] (bap. 1700, d. 1780), miser and farmer-weaver, was baptized on 14 May 1700 at Wolvey, Warwickshire, the younger son of Joseph Kem (c.1680–c.1730), butcher, and his wife, Frances (c.1680–1731). He was the great-great-grandson of ...

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Nicholson, Wilfred (1821–1921), paint manufacturer, was born in London on 13 September 1821, the third surviving child of Thomas Nicholson and his wife, Elizabeth, née Coulson (d. 1859). In 1810 his father had moved from co. Durham to London to find work and after various jobs joined ...

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Henry John Patch (1898–2009) by Peter Macdiarmid, 2008 [with Henry Allingham (left) and William Stone (right), Armistice Day service, 2008] © Getty Images

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Patch, Henry John [Harry] (1898–2009), soldier and plumber, and longest surviving British veteran of the First World War, was born on 17 June 1898 at Fonthill Cottage, Combe Down, Somerset, the youngest of three sons (there were no daughters) of William John Patch (1863–1945)...

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Poole, Thomas (1766–1837), tanner and friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was born on 14 November 1766 in Nether Stowey, Somerset, and baptized there on 12 December, the second child of Thomas Poole (d. 1795) and Elizabeth Buller (d. 1801). Of six children born to his parents, only ...

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See Nash, Richard [known as Beau Nash]