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Dame Margery Irene Corbett Ashby (1882–1981) by Edmond Xavier Kapp from the collection of Patricia Kapp

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Ashby, Dame Margery Irene Corbett (1882–1981), feminist and internationalist, was born on 19 April 1882 in London, the eldest of three children (two girls and a boy) of Charles Henry Joseph Corbett, businessman and landowner of Woodgate, Danehill, Sussex, and his wife, Marie...

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Baker, Beatrice May (1876–1973), headmistress and internationalist, was born at 2 High Street, Hereford on 4 May 1876, the third daughter and youngest child in the family of three daughters and a son of Edward Joseph Baker, a gentleman's tailor in Hereford, and his wife, ...

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian (1868–1926), traveller, archaeologist, and diplomatist, was born at Washington Hall, co. Durham, on 14 July 1868, the elder child and only daughter of (Thomas) Hugh Bell (1844–1931), an ironmaster, who succeeded his father as second baronet in 1904, and his first wife, ...

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Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell (1868–1926) by unknown photographer, c. 1900 Getty Images

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Charlesworth, Lilian Edith (1897–1970), headmistress and promoter of international understanding, was born on 15 March 1897 at 110 Stockwell Park Road, Stockwell, London, the daughter of Jonathan Charlesworth, a schoolmaster for the London school board, and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth, née Bragg. The family, who were Presbyterians, lived in ...

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Elwell [née Glass], Ann Catherine (1922–1996), intelligence officer and diplomat, was born on 16 June 1922 at 12 Leinster Gardens, Bayswater, London, the only child of Robert Lionel Glass, a general practitioner and former surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy, of 106 Inverness Terrace, Bayswater...

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Ann Catherine Elwell (1922–1996) by unknown photographer © reserved; News International Syndication; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Fane [née Wellesley-Pole], Priscilla Anne, countess of Westmorland (1793–1879), diplomatic service wife and artist, was born on 13 March 1793. Her father was William Wellesley-Pole (1763–1845), brother of the duke of Wellington and Lord Wellesley; he was himself created Baron Maryborough in 1821, and succeeded his brother as ...

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Fort, Dame Maeve Geraldine (1940–2008), diplomatist, was born on 19 November 1940 at Elmswood, North Mossley Hill Road, Wavertree, Liverpool, of Anglo-Irish descent, the only child of Frank Leslie Fort (1908–1969), a clerk at an aircraft factory, and later a hospital administrator, and his wife, ...

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Dame Maeve Geraldine Fort (1940–2008) by John Stillwell, 1996 © PA Photos

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Pamela Beryl Harriman (1920–1997) by Diana H. Walker, 1977 Getty Images – Diana H. Walker

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Harriman [née Digby; other married names Churchill, Hayward], Pamela Beryl (1920–1997), adventurer and diplomatist, was born on 20 March 1920 at Farnborough, Kent, the eldest of three daughters and oldest of the four children of Edward Kenelm Digby, eleventh Baron Digby...

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Howard [née Matthaei], Louise Ernestine, Lady Howard (1880–1969), international civil servant and advocate of organic husbandry, was born on 26 December 1880 at 10 Priory Grove, Kensington, London, the youngest daughter in a family of three girls and a boy of Carl Hermann Ernst Matthaei...

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Hughes [née Pestell], Catherine Eva (1933–2014), diplomatist and college head, was born on 24 September 1933 at 167 Westmount Road, Eltham, London, the younger daughter and youngest of three children of Edmund Ernest Pestell (1893–1965) and his wife, Isabelle Cummine, ...

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Margaret, duchess of Burgundy (1446–1503), Yorkist matriarch and mediator, was the third daughter of Richard, third duke of York (1411–1460), and Cecily (1415–1495), daughter of Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland. She was born on 3 May 1446, probably at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire...

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McGeachy [married name Schuller], Mary Agnes Craig (1901–1991), international civil servant, was born on 7 November 1901 at 116 Brock Street, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, the first daughter and second of the four children of Donald McGeachy (1868–1946), evangelist, and his wife, Anna Jenet, ...

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Midwinter [married name Midwinter-Vergin], Kathleen Margaret [Kay] (1909–1995), first female clerk in the House of Commons and United Nations official, was born at 38 Holyhead Road, Wednesbury, Staffordshire, on 6 March 1909, the only daughter and elder of two children of Stanley Clive Midwinter (1881–1959)...

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Milchsack [née Duden], Lisalotte [Lilo] (1905–1992), promoter of Anglo-German relations, was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the daughter of Dr Paul Duden (1868–1954), an industrial chemist, and his wife, Johanna Bertha, née Nebe (1875–1947). Her grandfather was the lexicographer Konrad Duden (1829–1911)...

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Pandit, Vijayalakshmi [née Sarup Kumari Nehru] (1900–1990), diplomatist, was born on 18 August 1900 at Anand Bhavan, Allahabad, India, the second of the three children and elder daughter of Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), lawyer and nationalist leader, and his wife, Swarup Rani...