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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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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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See Women traders and artisans in London

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Dagoe, Hannah (d. 1763), thief, was born in Ireland and went to London when very young. She began her working life as a milliner but was a basket-woman in Covent Garden at the time of her condemnation. She married a Spanish seaman named ...

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Ruth Ellis (1926–1955) by unknown photographer, 1955 Getty Images

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Ellis [née Neilson], Ruth (1926–1955), nightclub hostess and convicted murderer, was born on 9 October 1926 at 74 West Parade, Rhyl, north Wales, the fourth of six children of Arthur Neilson (formerly Hornby), musician, and his wife, Elisaberta Goodall, a seamstress.

Born into poverty, ...

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Fenwick [née Benison], Ann (1724–1777), Roman Catholic litigant and heir, was the only child of Thomas Benison (1696–1735), a Lancaster attorney, and his wife, Ann Dowbiggin (1694–1762), widow of a Mr Winder. The Benisons had been landowners in Hornby and Roeburndale, a few miles west of ...

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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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Richard Davenport-Hines

Hindley, Myra (1942–2002), murderer, was born on 23 July 1942 at 123 Crescent Road, Crumpsall, Manchester, the elder daughter of Robert Hindley, an army paratrooper and building labourer, and his wife, Nellie, née Maybury, a machinist. After the birth of her sister, Maureen...

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Hobry [Aubry; other married name Defermeau], Mary (d. 1688), murderer, was a French Catholic midwife of the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields who emerged into prominence in late January 1688 when the head, torso, and limbs of her husband, Denis Hobry, were discovered one by one around ...

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Kyteler [Kettle], Alice (fl. 1302–1324), alleged witch, was a member of the Kyteler family of Flemish merchants who settled in Kilkenny in the thirteenth century. Her parentage is unknown but she is likely to be related to William le Kyteler, merchant of Ypres...

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Maria Theresa Longworth (1833–1881) by unknown engraver © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Longworth, Maria Theresa (1833–1881), plaintiff in a case of disputed marriage and author, was born at Cheetwood, near Manchester, the youngest of six children of Thomas Longworth, silk manufacturer, and his wife, Ann, née Fox. Thomas Longworth's business, and at one time his residence also, was in a large house at the corner of ...

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Sarah Malcolm (c. 1710–1733) by William Hogarth, 1733 National Gallery of Scotland

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Malcolm, Sarah (c. 1710–1733), murderer, was born in Durham but the family moved to Dublin. On the death of her mother, Malcolm migrated to London, becoming a domestic servant at the Temple. One of her employers was an elderly widow, Lydia Duncomb, who lived with another old woman and their maid. On 5 February 1733 the papers reported a grisly murder of the three women, found in their beds with their throats cut from ear to ear. Four servants were arrested and ...

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Murnaghan, Sheelagh Mary (1924–1993), politician and barrister, was born in Dublin city on 26 May 1924, the eldest of six children. Her family background was Catholic and strongly nationalist; her grandfather George Murnaghan had been a nationalist MP until 1910. Murnaghan was educated by the Catholic ...

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Savage [née Darcy], Elizabeth, suo jure Countess Rivers (1581–1651), courtier and victim of popular violence, was the daughter of Thomas Darcy, third Baron Darcy of Chiche (d. 1640), later created Viscount Colchester (1621) and Earl Rivers (1626), and his wife, Mary Kitson (...

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Shipton, Mother (supp. fl. 1530), supposed witch and prophetess, is a mostly legendary figure. The only historical support for her existence as a woman living in Tudor York is found in the slim pamphlet The Prophesie of Mother Shipton in the Raigne of King Henry the Eighth...