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Airay, Christopher (1600x03–1670), philosopher, was born at Clifton, Westmorland, and matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, aged eighteen (Foster) on 9 November 1621. He graduated BA on 16 December 1625, was created a fellow in 1627, and proceeded MA on 29 January 1629. He was created BD on 1 or 2 November 1642 and was subsequently vicar of ...

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Appleton, Charles Edward Cutts Birchall (1841–1879), lecturer on philosophy and journal editor, was born on 16 March 1841, at Reading, the second son of the Revd Robert Appleton (1801–1875) and his wife, Mary Ann Elizabeth Hoblyn (1801–1874), daughter of the Revd ...

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Argall, John (b. in or before 1545, d. 1606), Church of England clergyman and logician, was born in London, the third son of Thomas Argall (1499/1500–1563), ecclesiastical official, and of Margaret (d. 1592), daughter of John Tallakarne or Talkerne of Cornwall. Near the end of ...

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Astell, Mary (1666–1731), philosopher and promoter of women's education, was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 12 November 1666, the first of two surviving children of Peter Astell (1638–1678), coal merchant, and his wife, Mary, daughter of George Errington, also a coal merchant in ...

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Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626) attrib. Abraham van Blyenberch, c. 1618 © Royal Society

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Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626), lord chancellor, politician, and philosopher, was born on 22 January 1561 at York House in the Strand, London, the second of the two sons of Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510–1579), lord keeper, and his second wife, Anne (...

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Bailey, Samuel (bap. 1791, d. 1870), economist and philosopher, was baptized on 8 July 1791 at St Peter's Church (later the cathedral), Sheffield, the second son and fifth of the eleven children of Joseph Bailey, of Burngreave, and Mary Eaden. His father, originally an artisan, had become wealthy in the cutlery business (he was master cutler in 1801) and as a merchant. ...

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Arthur James Balfour, first earl of Balfour (1848–1930) by John Singer Sargent, 1908 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Balfour, Arthur James, first earl of Balfour (1848–1930), prime minister and philosopher, was born on 25 July 1848 at Whittingehame House, East Lothian, the third of eight children and eldest son of James Maitland Balfour (1820–1856), landowner (and MP, 1841–7), and his wife, ...

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Balguy, John (1686–1748), Church of England clergyman and moral philosopher, was born on 12 August 1686 at Sheffield, son of Thomas Balguy (c.1643–1696), master of the Sheffield Free School for over 30 years, and his wife, Sara Hathornwhite, whom he had married on 8 June 1682. He studied under his father, his father's successor (...

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Barfield, (Arthur) Owen (1898–1997), writer and philosopher, was born on 9 November 1898 at 6 Grosvenor Gardens, Muswell Hill, Middlesex, the youngest of the four children of Arthur Edward Barfield, a solicitor, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Shoults. It was a free-thinking family and so immune to all '...

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Beconsall, Thomas (1663/4–1709), philosopher and Church of England clergyman, was the son of John Beconsall of Lemster, Cheshire. He matriculated, aged sixteen, on 30 March 1680, at Brasenose College, Oxford. He graduated BA in 1683, MA in 1686 (in which year he became a fellow), and BD in 1697. He was vicar of ...

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Benson, Margaret (1865–1916), Egyptologist and religious philosopher, was born on 16 June 1865 at Wellington College, Berkshire, the fourth of the six children of Edward White Benson (1829–1896), archbishop of Canterbury (1882–96), and his wife, Mary (1841–1918), daughter of the Revd William Sidgwick...

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Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) by Henry William Pickersgill, 1829 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bentham, Jeremy (1748–1832), philosopher, jurist, and reformer, was born on 4 February 1748 in Church Lane, Houndsditch, London, the eldest of the seven children of Jeremiah Bentham (1712–1792), attorney, and Alicia Woodward Whitehorne (d. 1759), the eldest daughter of Thomas Grove, a mercer of ...

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Blake, Sir Francis, first baronet (1707/8–1780), experimental philosopher, was the son of Robert Blake (d. 1734), landowner, of Twisell, co. Durham, and his wife, Sarah, daughter of Sir Francis Blake MP (1638–1718), of Ford Castle, Northumberland. His father was of Irish origin and belonged to the ...

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Blakey, Robert [pseud. Palmer Hackle] (1795–1878), radical and historian of philosophy, son of Robert Blakey (c.1774–1796), mechanic, and his wife, Elizabeth Laws (b. 1773), was born in Manchester Street, Morpeth, Northumberland, on 18 May 1795. His father died when he was nine months old. When he was six, he was taken charge of by his grandmother, also ...

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George Boole (1815–1864) by unknown artist, 1847 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Boole, George (1815–1864), mathematician and logician, was born on 2 November 1815 in Lincoln, the eldest of four children of a local tradesman, John Boole (1777–1848), shoemaker, and his wife, Mary Ann Joyce (1777–1854). He adopted a love of learning from his father, who was active in the local mechanics' institute, to such an extent that in his teens he was employed as a teacher at schools in ...

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Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923) by Walter Stoneman, 1917 © National Portrait Gallery, London