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Adrian [née Pinsent], Hester Agnes, Lady Adrian (1899–1966), penal reformer, was born at Lordswood House, Harborne, Birmingham, on 16 September 1899, the only daughter and youngest child of Hume Chancellor Pinsent (d. 1920), a solicitor, and his wife, Ellen Frances Parker (1866–1949)...

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Badger, Charlotte (b. 1778?, d. in or after 1816), escaped convict, was one of the first European women to live in New Zealand. She may have been the child of Ann and Thomas Badger baptized on 31 July 1778 at the parish church of ...

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Barker, Dame Lilian Charlotte (1874–1955), prison administrator, was born on 21 February 1874 in Islington, the fifth of seven children and youngest daughter of James Barker, tobacconist, and his wife, Caroline Williams. Educated at the local elementary school, she was trained at Whitelands College, Chelsea...

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Bruce, Victoria Alexandrina Katherine (1898–1951), prison governor, was born on 13 September 1898 at Kennet House, Clackmannan, the youngest by fifteen years in the family of two sons and three daughters of Alexander Hugh Bruce, sixth Lord Balfour of Burleigh (1849–1921), secretary for ...

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Bryant [née Broad], Mary (b. 1765), convict, was born in April 1765 in the town of Fowey, Cornwall, the second of the four children of William Broad, a master mariner, and his wife, Grace. In 1785, for reasons that remain unclear, although it is on record that times were particularly hard, she became a highwaywoman, and in January 1786 she was captured after holding up a woman from whom she stole jewellery worth ...

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Dame Geraldine Southall Cadbury (1865–1941) by Thomas Bowman Garvie, 1912 © Birmingham Museums Trust

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Cadbury, Dame Geraldine Southall (1865–1941), social and penal reformer, was born Geraldine Southall at 5 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, on 29 June 1865, the daughter of Alfred Southall (1838–1931), chemist, and his wife, Anna Strangman, née Grubb (1841–1912). She inherited a propensity for social activism from her Quaker parents; her father was a temperance worker who taught a working men's adult school class, while her Irish mother was a supporter of women's suffrage. She was educated at ...

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Carpenter, Mary (1807–1877), educationist and penal reformer, was born on 3 April 1807 at Exeter, the eldest of six children of the Unitarian minister Lant Carpenter (1780–1840) and his wife, Anna Penn (1782?–1856), a supervisor of schools for girls. The Carpenters belonged to the intellectual aristocracy of English puritanism, a world largely set apart from the wider society. Piety, an exacting sense of obligation, and reforming principles marked the household. Though vowed to tolerance, the ...

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Margaret Catchpole (1762–1819) by Richard Cobbold, pubd 1845 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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M. G. Watkins

revised by H. C. G. Matthew

Catchpole, Margaret (1762–1819), convict and author, was born on 14 March 1762, perhaps at Nacton, Suffolk, the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Catchpole and a farm labourer employed by a celebrated breeder of Suffolk carthorses. When Margaret was thirteen years of age the farmer's wife was suddenly seized with illness; ...

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Craven, Cicely Musgrave (1890–1962), penal reform campaigner, was born at Rocklands, Strickland Kettle, near Kendal, Westmorland, on 23 March 1890, the third daughter and youngest child of Dr Robert Musgrave Craven (1851–1914), a medical officer of health for local urban and rural districts, and his wife, ...

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Curran [née Brennan], Agnes (1920–2005), prison governor, was born on 12 February 1920 at 25 Lyle Street, Greenock, Renfrewshire, the eldest of nine children of Mark Brennan, shoemaker, and his wife, Agnes, née Hendry. Her first career was as a registered mental nurse and she rose to be deputy matron of ...

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Eaton, Gertrude (1863–1940), musician, suffragist, and international penal reformer, was born at Brynmor, Swansea, on 6 December 1863, the sixth child and fifth daughter of Robert Eaton of Bryn-y-mor, gentleman and justice of the peace for county of Glamorgan, and his wife, Helen Edith, ...

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Field [née Lowinsky], Xenia Noelle (1894–1998), prison reformer and horticulturist, was born in Secunderabad, India, on 25 December 1894, the daughter of Thomas Hermann Lowinsky (d. 1932), general manager of the Hyderabad–Deccan mines, and his wife. Xenia's unusual Christian names reflected the fact that her mother liked the sound of Russian words and that she was born on Christmas day. A year later the family returned to ...

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Forster [Foster], Agnes (d. 1484), wealthy widow and prison reformer, came from Kent and was married for about twenty years to the London shipowner, merchant, and MP Stephen Forster, who was mayor in 1454–5. He came from Somerset and maintained close links with the ...

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Fraser, Catherine (1786–1868), penal reformer, was born on 26 June 1786 at the High Street, Wapping, the only surviving child of James Fraser (1749–1825), merchant, and his wife, Ann, née Thatcher. James Fraser had premises in Wapping and later became a biscuit baker. In August 1794 ...

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Elizabeth Fry (1780–1845) by George Richmond, 1844 Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery / private collection

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Fry [née Gurney], Elizabeth (1780–1845), penal reformer and philanthropist, was born on 21 May 1780 at Magdalen Street, Norwich, the fourth of twelve children, seven daughters and five sons, of John Gurney (1749–1809), a merchant and banker, and Catherine Bell (1754–1792). Her parents were both descendants of old Quaker families, ...

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(Sara) Margery Fry (1874–1958) by Claude Rogers, 1939 © Estate of Claude Rogers; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomas L. Hodgkin

revised by Mark Pottle

Fry, (Sara) Margery (1874–1958), penal reformer and college head, was born at Highgate, London, on 11 March 1874, the eighth child and sixth daughter of Sir Edward Fry (1827–1918), judge of the High Court, Chancery Division, and his wife, Mariabella Hodgkin (1833–1930). Joan Mary Fry...