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Adams, Fanny (1859–1867), murder victim and source of a colloquial expression, was born on 30 April 1859 in Tanhouse Lane, Alton, Hampshire, the fourth of seven children of George Adams (b. 1830), a labourer, later a bricklayer, and his wife, Harriet Mills (...

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Mary Sophia Allen (1878–1964) by Mrs Albert Broom, 1916 [centre, with members of the women police] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Allen, Mary Sophia (1878–1964), police officer, was born on 12 March 1878 at 2 Marlborough Terrace, Newport Road, Roath, Glamorgan, the daughter of Thomas Isaac Allen, a superintendent of the Great Western Railway, and his wife, Margaret Sophia Carlyle. Her sister, Mrs Hampton...

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Armstrong, Eliza (b. 1872), domestic servant and victim of abduction, was born at 9 Charles Street, Lisson Grove, in the Marylebone district of London on 18 April 1872 to Charles Armstrong, a chimney sweep, and Elizabeth, née Chivers, who were married in March 1874. The family later moved to ...

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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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Bebb [married name Thomson], Gwyneth Marjory (1889–1921), campaigner for women's admission to the legal profession, was born at Brasenose House, High Street, Oxford, on 27 October 1889, the second daughter and third of the seven children of Llewellyn John Montfort Bebb DD (1862–1915)...

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Gwyneth Marjory Bebb (1889–1921) by unknown photographer, 1920 by kind permission of Anne Tickell and Martin Tomlins

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Beddingfield [née Rowe, Row], Margery (bap. 1742, d. 1763), murderer, was the daughter of John Rowe or Row (c.1702–1778), a substantial Suffolk farmer, and his wife, Margery (c.1710–1756). The couple had two sons while living at Kelsale and moved to ...

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Mary Blandy (1718/19–1752), by Thomas Ryley, after F. Wilson, c. 1740s–50s

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blandy, Mary (1718/19–1752), murderer, was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, the only child of Francis Blandy (c.1689–1751) and Mary Stevens (c.1700–1749), parents so 'excessively fond' of her that they could 'scarce bear her out of their sight...

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Bowerman, Elsie Edith (1889–1973), suffragette and lawyer, was born on 18 December 1889 at Barnsbury Lodge, Garden Road, Tunbridge Wells, the only child of William Bowerman (c.1825–1895) and his wife, Edith Martha Barber (1864–1953). She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School...

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Bowes, Mary Eleanor, countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne (1749–1800), heiress and victim of kidnapping, was born on 24 February 1749, the only child of George Bowes MP (1701–1760), of Streatlam Castle and Gibside, co. Durham, and his second wife, Mary (d. 1781)...

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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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Sybil Campbell (1889–1977) by unknown photographer, c. 1940 The Mistress and Fellows, Girton College, Cambridge

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Campbell, Sybil (1889–1977), barrister and first woman stipendiary magistrate, was born on 9 October 1889 in Ceylon, the eldest of the three daughters and a son of Neill Graeme Campbell (1859–1940) of Auchendarroch, tea company agent, and his wife, Maude Georgiana (d...

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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 ...