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Alfonsi, Petrus (fl. 1106–1126), scholar and translator of scientific works, was born in northern Spain, to Jewish parents. He was baptized a Christian on 29 June 1106 in Huesca, Aragon, with the names of the apostle on whose feast day the baptism took place and of his godfather, ...

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Allen, Thomas (1540?–1632), mathematician and antiquary, was probably born on 21 December 1540 (though some sources suggest 1542) at Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, the son of William Allen. His family were local gentry who are known to have had Roman Catholic connections. Two of his four uncles also lived at ...

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Ashton, Sir Thomas (c. 1403–c. 1460), alchemist, was the son of Sir John Ashton (d. 1427) of Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire, and his first wife, Jane Saville. His half-brother was Sir Ralph Ashton. Sir John's career in public office and the service of the house of ...

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Askham [Ascham], Anthony (c. 1517–1559), writer on astronomy and almanac maker, was born at Kirby Wiske, near Northallerton, Yorkshire, the third son of John Ascham (d. 1544) of Kirby Wiske, who was a yeoman farmer and steward to Lord Scrope of Bolton...

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Aspall, Geoffrey of (d. 1287), administrator and natural philosopher, took his name from Aspall in Suffolk; his father was a landowner in that county who married a member of the wealthy London family of Bukerel, and he had at least three brothers. Information concerning the dates and place of ...

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Auden, John Bicknell (1903–1991), geologist, was born on 14 December 1903 at 54 Bootham, York, the second of three sons of George Augustus Auden (1872–1957), a medical doctor, and his wife, Constance Rosalie, formerly Bicknell (1869–1941). The poet Wystan Hugh Auden (1907–1973) was his younger brother. ...

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John Ball (1818–1889) by unknown photographer © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: reproduced by kind permission of the Director and the Board of Trustees

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Ball, John (1818–1889), glaciologist and politician, was born in Dublin on 20 August 1818, the eldest child of Nicholas Ball (1791–1865), judge and politician, and his wife, Jane (née Sherlock) of Butlerstown Castle in co. Waterford. Until the age of eleven he received little formal education, but from his earliest years he displayed a precocious interest in science. In his seventh year he was taken to ...

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Joseph Cyril Bamford (1916–2001) by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies, 1989 © Lucinda Douglas-Menzies; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bamford, Joseph Cyril (1916–2001), engineer and businessman, was born on 21 June 1916 at The Parks, New Road, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, the son of Cyril Joseph Bamford, agricultural engineer, and his wife, Dolores Alice, née Turner. His family controlled and managed a long-established farm machinery business. The company, which manufactured balers and other equipment, had been started by his great-great-grandfather in 1812. He was brought up a Roman Catholic. After education at ...

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Batecombe [Batecumbe], William (fl. 1348), astronomer, was probably connected with one of the villages named Batcombe in Dorset and Somerset. Nothing is known of his personal circumstances beyond his association with the University of Oxford, and the fact that he is described as magister. Most of his extensive writings on astronomy are lost, but an influential collection of astronomical (Alfonsine) tables dated 1348, for which he seems to have been responsible, is still extant....

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Bath, Adelard of (b. in or before 1080?, d. in or after 1150), scientist and translator, was a pioneer in introducing Arabic mathematics into England.

Although absolute confidence cannot be placed in the autobiographical details included within the fictitious context of his literary works, ...

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Bauer, Ferdinand Lukas (1760–1826), botanical artist, was born on 20 January 1760 at Feldsberg, Austria, the son of Lukas Bauer or Baur (1706/7–1762), court painter to the prince of Liechtenstein, and his wife, Theresia, née Hirsch. Three sons—Joseph (1756–1831), Franz Andreas Bauer (1758–1840)...

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Bauzá, Felipe (1764–1834), hydrographer, was born in Palma, Majorca, in the Spanish Balearic Islands. He entered the Spanish navy at the age of fifteen, and experienced active service as he rose through the ranks. His career as a hydrographer began under Tofiño y Varela...

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Beaumont, John (c. 1640–1731), natural philosopher and collector of geological specimens, spent most of his life at Ston Easton, Somerset, where he practised medicine. He befriended the miners working in the nearby Mendip hills, with whom he explored newly discovered caverns and rock formations. Stimulated by ...

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A. M. Clerke

revised by Joseph Gross

Birmingham, John (1816–1884), astronomer, was a country gentleman residing at Millbrook, near Tuam, co. Galway, Ireland, whose attention was directed to astronomy by his discovery of a remarkable new star in Corona Borealis on 12 May 1866. In 1872, at the suggestion of the ...

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Blacker, Carlos Paton (1895–1975), psychiatrist and eugenicist, was born on 8 December 1895 in Paris, the elder of the two sons of Carlos Blacker and Caroline Frost. His father, a gentleman of independent means, was descended on his maternal side from a prominent Peruvian political family, and one of ...

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Blomefylde [Blomefield], Myles (1525–1603), medical practitioner and alchemist, was born on 5 April 1525 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, the son of John Blomefilde and his wife, Anne. He is said to have been a scholar at St John's College, Cambridge, but records show only that in 1552 the university awarded him a licence to practise medicine. His father died in 1549, leaving him and his mother as executors of a small estate. By 1559 he must have married and been resident in ...

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Blomfild [Blomefield], William (fl. 1529–1574), alchemist and priest, was born in Bury St Edmunds. He was a Benedictine monk and priest at Bury in his youth. In 1529 he was questioned at London regarding certain protestant tenets (which he abjured) although he seems later in life to have gravitated towards Calvinism. In 1543, at which time he was living in ...

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Bollard, Nicholas (fl. 1427), Dominican friar and writer on botany, was assigned by a provincial chapter after 1427 to Oxford convent as a friar ministerialis. He was the author of a work on arboriculture headed 'A tretee of Nicholas Bollard departid in 3 parties: of gendrying of trees; 2 of graffynge; the third forsooth of altracions'...