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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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Cakebread, Jane (1827/1828–1898), inebriate and subject of medical enquiry, was born in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, the daughter of James Cakebread (1783/4–1852), a carpenter and carter originally from Clavering, Essex, and his wife, Susan (1793/4–1863) of Sawbridgeworth. The eldest surviving daughter in a large family, ...

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Jane Cakebread (1827/18281828–1898) by unknown photographer, 1895 The National Archives

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Higgins, Terrence Lionel Seymour (1945–1982), first publicly identified AIDS victim in the United Kingdom, was born on 10 June 1945 in Priory Mount Hospital, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, the son of Marjorie Irene Higgins (formerly Phillips), a railway porter in Haverfordwest. Remembered through the manner of his death, and the work of the trust that bears his name, the life of ...

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Kemp [Kempe], William (1554/5–1628), landowner and sufferer from melancholia, was the eldest son of Robert Kemp of Spain's Hall, Finchingfield, Essex, and his wife, Elizabeth Heigham. He had at least two younger brothers and two sisters. Under a contract dated 10 October 1588 he married ...

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Maillard [married name Briel], Marie (1680–1731), beneficiary of miraculous healing, was born in Cognac, St Ouge, France, on 25 September 1680. A Huguenot, in 1689 she escaped from persecution in France with her parents, John Maillard, a sword-cutler, and Charlotte du Dognon...

Article

Gordon Goodwin

revised by H. C. G. Matthew

M'Avoy, Margaret (1800–1820), impostor, was born at Liverpool of respectable parentage on 28 June 1800. Of sickly constitution, she appeared to become totally blind in June 1816. Her case attracted considerable contemporary attention from the readiness with which she was alleged to distinguish, by touch, colours of cloth, silk, and stained glass. She could also accurately describe the height, dress, bearing, and other characteristics of her visitors, and even decipher letters in a printed book or manuscript with her fingers' ends, so as to be able to read with tolerable fluency. ...

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Daniel McNaughtan (1802/33–1865) by unknown engraver, pubd 1843 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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McNaughtan [McNaghten], Daniel (1802/3–1865), criminal lunatic, born in Scotland (probably in Glasgow), was a wood-turner and political radical in Glasgow prior to the events of 20 January 1843 which earned him a place in the legal history of the plea of insanity, as the eponymist of the ...

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Joseph Carey Merrick [the Elephant Man] (1862–1890) by unknown photographer, c. 1889 Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum

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Merrick, Joseph Carey [called the Elephant Man] (1862–1890), freak show novelty and medical curiosity, was born at 50 Lee Street, Leicester, on 5 August 1862, the elder son (there was also a daughter) of Joseph Rockley Merrick (b. 1835/6), a warehouseman and machine operator in a cotton factory, and ...

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Minor, William Chester (1834–1920), military surgeon, asylum inmate, and contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary, was born on 21 June 1834 at Manepay, Ceylon, the elder child of Eastman Strong Minor (1809–1867), printer and Congregational missionary of Milford, Connecticut, and his first wife, ...

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Moore [née Peg], Ann (b. 1761), the fasting woman of Tutbury, was born on 31 October 1761 at Rosliston, Derbyshire, the daughter of a labourer and sawyer, William Peg. She went into domestic service, and in 1788 married a fellow farm servant, ...

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Nolan, Anthony Edward (1971–1979), inspiration of a medical charity, was born at the Memorial Hospital, North Adelaide, South Australia, on 2 December 1971, the only son of Shirley Nolan [née Oakey] (1942–2002). She had been born at the Maternity Hospital Annexe, Cookridge, Leeds...

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Sombre, David Ochterlony Dyce (1808–1851), traveller and putative lunatic, was born in Sardhana, a semi-autonomous princely state near Meerut, India, on 18 December 1808, the eldest of the three surviving children of Colonel George Alexander Dyce (d. 1838), of mixed Scottish and Indian ancestry, and ...

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David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre (1808–1851) by Charles Brocky The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

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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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Toft [née Denyer], Mary (bap. 1703, d. 1763), the rabbit-breeder, daughter of John and Jane Denyer, was baptized at Godalming, Surrey, on 21 February 1703. She married Joshua Toft, a journeyman clothier, about 1720. They had three children, Mary, Anne, and James...

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Mary Toft (bap. 1703, d. 1763) by John Faber junior (after John Laguerre) © National Portrait Gallery, London