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Alcindor, John (1873–1924), general practitioner and leader of the African Progress Union, was born on 8 or 9 July 1873 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of Francis Alcindor, cocoa planter. Almost nothing is known of his parents, though there were funds to pay for his schooling and medical studies. The family's African ancestry was suggested by ...

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Neil Arnott (1788–1874) by Smyth (after Jabez Hogg) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Arnott, Neil (1788–1874), physician and public health reformer, the son of William Arnott, a manufacturer and farmer, and his wife, Ann Maclean, was born at Arbroath in Forfarshire, Scotland, on 15 May 1788. A Roman Catholic by upbringing, he was educated by his mother, at the parish school of ...

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Ashton, Hugh (d. 1522), Catholic ecclesiastic and university benefactor, apparently never himself had a formal university education, his main expertise lying in administration and estate management. He probably first encountered Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and Derby, in Lancashire, his native county, and rose to prominence through this association. On 7 January 1496 he was admitted to the rectory of ...

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Hugh Ashton (d. 1522) by unknown sculptor © Crown copyright. NMR

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Atkinson [née Gaynor], Sarah (1823–1893), philanthropist and writer, was born on 13 October 1823 in Athlone, co. Westmeath, Ireland, the eldest of five daughters and one son of John and Anne Gaynor. She was educated at home; the family moved to Dublin...

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Aylward, Margaret Louisa (1810–1889), philanthropist and Roman Catholic nun, was born on 23 November 1810 in Thomas Street, Waterford, the fifth child of William Aylward (d. 1840), merchant, and his wife, Ellen Mullowney, née Murphy (c.1781–c.1860). There were ten children born of the marriage, and a half-brother, from ...

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Badew, Richard (d. 1361), university principal and founder of University Hall, Cambridge, was born, towards the close of the thirteenth century, into an established knightly family which took its name from Great Baddow, near Chelmsford, Essex, where it had estates dispersed among several neighbouring villages. According to ...

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Balliol, Dervorguilla de, lady of Galloway (d. 1290), noblewoman and benefactor, was a daughter of Alan, lord of Galloway (b. before 1199, d. 1234), and his second wife, Margaret, eldest daughter of David, earl of Huntingdon (d. 1219). Born some time after 1209, the date of her parents' marriage, her distinctive Gaelic name, ...

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Balliol [Baliol], John de (b. before 1208, d. 1268), magnate and benefactor, was the eldest son and heir of Hugh de Balliol (d. 1229), lord of Barnard Castle in co. Durham and of Bailleul-en-Vimeu in Picardy. Probably named after King John, to whom his father, exceptionally among the baronage of the north of ...

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Balsham, Hugh of (d. 1286), bishop of Ely and benefactor, took his name from Balsham, Cambridgeshire, one of Ely Priory's manors. Nothing is known of his background, except that during the controversy aroused by his election as bishop it was alleged that he was of servile origins. He became a monk at ...

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Bateman [Norwich], William (c. 1298–1355), diplomat, founder of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and bishop of Norwich, was probably born in Norwich (from which he was sometimes named), the third son of William and Margery Bateman. His father was many times bailiff of the city, and in 1326–7 its member of ...

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Bates [née Dwyer], Daisy May (1859–1951), anthropologist and social worker among Aboriginal Australians, was born around 16 October 1859, at Roscrea, co. Tipperary, Ireland, the third of four children of Edward Dwyer, shopkeeper and small farmer, and his wife Bridget, née Hunt...

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Baxter [née Young], (Mary) Kathleen (1901–1988), advocate of women's rights, was born on 30 May 1901 to a Roman Catholic family in Bradford, Yorkshire, the eighth child in the family of three daughters and five sons (one of whom died in infancy) of ...

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Peter James Henry Benenson (1921–2005) by Carolyn Djanogly, 1999 © Carolyn Djanogly; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Benenson, Peter James Henry (1921–2005), barrister and human rights campaigner, was born on 31 July 1921 at 6 Albert Court, Knightsbridge, London, the only child of Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Josiah Solomon (1885–1930), army officer, and his wife, Flora (1895–1984), daughter of the Jewish Russian banker ...

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Bentley, Charlotte Eliza (1915–1996), nurse and nursing activist, was born on 15 December 1915 at 63 Portland Court, Great Portland Street, London, the daughter of John Richard Bentley, hosier, and Charlotte Emma Redard. After education at a Swiss convent school and secretarial training ...

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Berkeley [née Clivedon], Katherine, Lady Berkeley (d. 1385), benefactor, was the daughter of Sir John Clivedon, a knight of Somerset and Worcestershire, and his wife, Emma. After an unrecorded childhood, she became, about the mid-1330s, the second wife of Sir Peter Veel...

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Antonin Besse (1877–1951) by unknown photographer courtesy of St Antony's College, Oxford

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Besse, Antonin (1877–1951), entrepreneur and benefactor, was born on 26 June 1877 at Carcassonne in southern France, the third son and fourth child in the family of four boys and three girls of Pierre Besse, leather merchant, and his wife, Marie Bonnafous. In failing health ...