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Ashton, Margaret (1856–1937), local politician and philanthropist, was born on 19 January 1856 at Ashfield, Wilmslow Road, in Withington, Manchester, the third of the six daughters and three sons of Thomas Ashton (1818–1898), a wealthy cotton manufacturer, and his wife, Elizabeth (1831–1914), daughter of ...

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Bodichon, Barbara Leigh Smith (1827–1891), artist and women's activist, was born on 8 April 1827 in Whatlington, near Robertsbridge, Sussex, the eldest of the five children of the radical MP Benjamin Smith (1783–1860) [see under Smith, William (1756-1835)] and Anne Longden (1801–1834)...

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Hill, Octavia (1838–1912), housing and social reformer, was born on 3 December 1838 at 8 South Brink, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, the eighth daughter (and ninth child) of James Hill (c.1800–1871), corn merchant and Owenite social utopian. Her mother was James Hill's third wife, ...

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Lawrence, Penelope (1856–1932), a founder of Roedean School, Brighton, with her half-sisters Dorothy Lawrence (1860–1933) and Millicent Lawrence (1863–1925), was the only child of Philip Henry Lawrence (1822–1895), a solicitor and descendant of the nonconformist minister Philip Henry, and his first wife, ...

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McLaren [née Pochin], Laura Elizabeth, Lady Aberconway (1854–1933), campaigner for women's rights and horticulturist, was born at Camp Street, Broughton, Lancashire, on 14 May 1854, the only surviving daughter of Henry Davis Pochin (1824–1895), industrial chemist and MP, and his wife, Agnes Pochin, ...

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Mill [née Hardy; other married name Taylor], Harriet (1807–1858), advocate of sexual equality, was born on 10 October 1807 at 18 Beckford Row, Walworth, in south London, daughter of Harriet (née Hurst) and Thomas Hardy (d. 1849), surgeon and ‘man-midwife’ of ...

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Nightingale, Florence (1820–1910), reformer of army medical services and of nursing organization, was born on 12 May 1820 at Villa Columbaia, Florence, where her parents were on a European tour. Their other daughter, Frances Parthenope Nightingale (1819–1890) [see Verney, Frances Parthenope], born in ...

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Osler [née Taylor], Catherine Courtauld (1854–1924), social reformer and suffragist, was born at King's Square, Bridgwater, Somerset, on 26 February 1854, the eldest of the four children of William Taylor (1826–1903), a merchant, and his wife, Caroline Watson, née Shute (1821–1898). The ...

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Parkes [married name Belloc], Elizabeth Rayner [Bessie] (1829–1925), campaigner for women's rights and journalist, was born in Birmingham on 16 June 1829, the daughter of Joseph Parkes (1796–1865), a lawyer and politician, and of Elizabeth Rayner Priestley (1797?–1877), who was the granddaughter of ...

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Reid [née Sturch], Elizabeth Jesser (1789–1866), slavery abolitionist and founder of Bedford College, London, was born on 25 December 1789 in St Clement Danes, London, the second of two daughters of William Sturch (1753–1838), a wealthy Unitarian ironmonger, and his wife, Elisabeth, ...

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Spence, Catherine Helen (1825–1910), writer and reformer in Australia, was born on 31 October 1825 near Melrose, Scotland, the fifth of the eight children of David Spence (1789–1846), a writer, solicitor, and banker, and Helen Brodie (1791–1887). Her parents were both Scots and members of the established ...

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Swanwick, Anna (1813–1899), translator, writer, and social reformer, was born in Liverpool on 22 June 1813, the youngest of the three daughters of John Swanwick (d. 1837), a wealthy merchant, and Hannah Hilditch, of Trefflich Hall, Staffordshire. The Swanwicks were descended from ...

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Ward [née Arnold], Mary Augusta [known as Mrs Humphry Ward] (1851–1920), novelist, philanthropist, and political lobbyist, born on 11 June 1851 in Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, was the eldest child of Thomas Arnold (1823–1900), inspector of schools in Hobart Town...

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Webb [née Potter], (Martha) Beatrice (1858–1943), social reformer and diarist, and Sidney James Webb Baron Passfield (1859–1947), social reformer and politician, were among the most prominent and productive pioneers of social science in Britain. Beatrice, as she was always known, was born on 22 January 1858 at ...