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Acland, Sir John (c. 1552–1620), politician and benefactor, was the younger son of John Acland (d. 1553) of Acland Barton in the parish of Landkey, north Devon, and Margaret, daughter and coheir of Hugh Radcliff of Stepney and the Middle Temple. He was born into an established gentry family which already bore heraldic arms and owned lands in five other ...

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Edward Alleyn (1566–1626) by unknown artist by permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery

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Alleyn, Edward (1566–1626), actor, theatre entrepreneur, and founder of Dulwich College, was born on 1 September 1566 in the London parish of St Botolph without Bishopsgate, 'near Devonshire House, where now is the sign of the Pye'. He was baptized the following day in the parish church, the son of ...

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Alleyne [Allyn], Thomas (c. 1488–1558), clergyman and benefactor, was probably a native of Sudbury, Staffordshire, where he later made provision for the commemoration of his parents. A suggestion that he originated in the diocese of Salisbury and studied at Oxford seems to be without foundation. His father's name was most probably ...

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Ashton, Hugh (d. 1522), Catholic ecclesiastic and university benefactor, apparently never himself had a formal university education, his main expertise lying in administration and estate management. He probably first encountered Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and Derby, in Lancashire, his native county, and rose to prominence through this association. On 7 January 1496 he was admitted to the rectory of ...

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Hugh Ashton (d. 1522) by unknown sculptor © Crown copyright. NMR

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Aske, Robert (1619–1689), silk merchant and benefactor, was born on 24 February 1619, the son of Robert Aske of the parish of St Mary Woolchurch, London, and his second wife, Margery Middleton, the widowed daughter of John Hill of Wendover, whom he married in 1611. The two ...

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Aylesbury, Sir Thomas, baronet (1579/80–1658), patron of mathematics, was born probably in early 1580, possibly in London, where some of his siblings were later baptized at St Andrew's, Holborn. He was the second son among at least eight children of William Aylesbury (...

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Badew, Richard (d. 1361), university principal and founder of University Hall, Cambridge, was born, towards the close of the thirteenth century, into an established knightly family which took its name from Great Baddow, near Chelmsford, Essex, where it had estates dispersed among several neighbouring villages. According to ...

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Balsham, Hugh of (d. 1286), bishop of Ely and benefactor, took his name from Balsham, Cambridgeshire, one of Ely Priory's manors. Nothing is known of his background, except that during the controversy aroused by his election as bishop it was alleged that he was of servile origins. He became a monk at ...

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Bampton, John (1689–1751), benefactor, was born in 1689; details of his place of birth, parentage, and upbringing are unknown. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he graduated BA (1709) and MA (1712). Having taken orders he was installed as a prebendary at ...

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Bancroft, Francis (1667–1728), financial agent and benefactor, was born in Spitalfields, London, on 26 October 1667, the second son of John Bancroft (bap. 1614, d. 1705), a City financier who became serjeant-carver to the lord mayor, and his second wife, Rebecka Cole (...

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Barnham, Benedict (bap. 1559, d. 1598), merchant and benefactor, was baptized on 2 June 1559 at St Mildred Poultry, London, the fourth and youngest son of Alice Barnham, silkwoman and benefactor, and her husband, Francis Barnham [see under Barnham, Alice], draper and local politician. From 1559 the family lived at ...

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Bateman [Norwich], William (c. 1298–1355), diplomat, founder of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and bishop of Norwich, was probably born in Norwich (from which he was sometimes named), the third son of William and Margery Bateman. His father was many times bailiff of the city, and in 1326–7 its member of ...

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Beverley [Ingelberd], Philip (d. 1323x5), benefactor, was the son of Robert and Alice Ingelberd, and is first recorded in January 1303, when he was nominated to the church of Keyingham near Hull in Holderness, close to Beverley, on the recommendation of Walter Langton (...

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Bingham [Byngham], William (d. 1451), ecclesiastic and founder of Christ's College, Cambridge, may have been the William Byngham who was presented to the vicarages of Hutton, near Beverley, Yorkshire, and Alverstoke, Hampshire, by Henry IV in 1401–2. More probably, the future founder of ...

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Blair, James (1655/6–1743), Church of England clergyman and founder of the College of William and Mary, was the son of Peter Blair (d. 1673), Church of Scotland minister of St Cuthbert's parish, Edinburgh, and his wife, Mary Hamilton (d. in or after 1696)...

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James Blair (1655/66–1743) by Charles Bridges Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary

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Blount, Charles, fifth Baron Mountjoy (1516–1544), courtier and patron of learning, was the eldest son of William Blount, fourth Baron Mountjoy (c. 1478–1534), and his third wife, Alice Brown, née Kebel (or Keble; d. 1521). Charles was born on 28 June 1516 in ...

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Blundell, Peter (c. 1520–1601), clothier and philanthropist, was born in Tiverton, Devon, of humble parentage. As a boy he saw the little community freed from the dominance of the Courtenay earls of Devon, and he lived to see it, untrammelled by either civic or industrial regulation, and somewhat encouraged by the protestant ethic, enter a period of considerable growth and prosperity based on the manufacture of kerseys, the woollen cloths in which the town and its immediate hinterland specialized. Whether the young ...