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Elizabeth Canning (1734–1773) by Louis Philippe Boitard, pubd 1754 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Canning [married name Treat], Elizabeth (1734–1773), convicted perjurer, was born on 17 September 1734 in the City of London, the eldest of five surviving children of William Canning (d. 1751) and his wife, Elizabeth, who continued her husband's business of sawyer after his death. The family occupied two rooms in ...

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Mary Carleton (1634x4242–1673) by T. Thrumten Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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Carleton [née Moders], Mary [nicknamed the German Princess] (1634x42–1673), impostor, is recorded in contradictory texts, making the accuracy of information about her origins difficult to ascertain. She was probably born Mary Moders in 1642 and baptized on 22 January; however, she is also recorded as being born eight years earlier, while ...

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Elizabeth Chudleigh (c. 1720–1788) by Thomas Gainsborough Christie's Images Ltd. (2004)

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Chudleigh, Elizabeth [married namesElizabeth Hervey, countess of Bristol; Elizabeth Pierrepont, duchess of Kingston upon Hull] (c. 1720–1788), courtier and bigamist, was born probably at the family estate of Ashton, Devon. She was the younger daughter and youngest child of Colonel Thomas Chudleigh (...

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See Women traders and artisans in London

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Crofts, Elizabeth (b. c. 1535), impostor, is of unknown origins. Nothing is known of her before 1554, when she was involved in a cause célèbre that led to her being accused of attempting to undermine the church and the crown. The episode is reported in both Catholic and protestant sources, with no significant variation in detail. On 14 March that year, aged about eighteen, ...

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Grieve, Elizabeth Harriet (b. c. 1723, d. in or after 1782), swindler, details of whose upbringing and parentage are unknown, gained notoriety in London in the early 1770s for a series of artful and audacious schemes whereby she duped not only tradesmen seeking preferment and places, but also a famous '...

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Phillips [other married name Pope], Judith [alias Doll] (fl. 1595), confidence trickster and thief, was a celebrated rogue who preyed on the unwary in London and southern England in the late sixteenth century. Her parentage, place of birth, and death are not known. She was married to one ...

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Rudd [née Youngson], Margaret Caroline (b. c. 1745, d. in or before 1798?), courtesan and accused forger, was born in Lurgan, co. Armagh. Much was written of her life and exploits but little can be verified. Her father, Patrick Youngson, was reported to have been an apothecary; her mother, ...

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Olivia Serres (1772–1835) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1790 © reserved; private collection

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Serres [née Wilmot], Olivia [alias Princess Olive of Cumberland] (1772–1835), royal impostor, was born in Warwick on 3 April 1772, daughter of Robert Wilmot, house painter, and his wife, Anna Maria Brunton. She was baptized on 15 April 1772 at St Nicholas's Church, Warwick...

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(Lillias Irma) Valerie Arkell- Smith (1895–1960) by unknown photographer, 1926 by permission of the E. O. Hoppé Trust, Curatorial Assistance, Inc., Los Angeles

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Smith, (Lillias Irma) Valerie Arkell- [née Lillias Irma Valerie Barker] (1895–1960), sexual impostor and perjurer, was born on 27 August 1895 in St Clements, Jersey, the daughter of Thomas William Barker (1857–1918), gentleman farmer and architect, and his wife, Lillias Adelaide Hill (1868–1923)...

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Spencer [married name Dowling or Dawlin], Barbara (c. 1697–1721), coiner, was born of 'mean parents' in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, in London (Lives, 1.46). One of the more obscure figures in the criminal annals of the eighteenth century, very little is known of her early life. ...