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Ashurst, William Henry [pseud. Edward Search] (bap. 1791?, d. 1855), lawyer and radical, was born in London, and was probably the William Henry Ashurst baptized on 20 March 1791 at St Luke's, Old Street, the son of Brusel Ashurst and his wife, ...

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Baume, Pierre Henri Joseph (1797–1875), radical activist and eccentric, was born at Marseilles on 17 October 1797, the son of Henri Joseph Baume (1770–1831) and Marie Claire Antoinette Merlat (1780–1837). His parents ran a wig-making shop and were inclined both to anti-clericalism and adultery. When he was still young his father moved to ...

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Blackner, John (1770?–1816), radical and county historian, was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. He served an apprenticeship to a stocking maker in his native town, and there married Sarah, née Brown, sister of a 'respectable' farmer in Kirk Hallam, Derbyshire, with whom he had four sons and three daughters. Illiterate at the time of his marriage, he taught himself to read and write soon after moving to ...

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Bosville, William (1745–1813), society host and radical, was born on 21 July 1745, the eldest son of Godfrey Bosville of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire, and his wife, Diana, the eldest daughter of Sir William Wentworth, baronet, of West Bretton. Bosville was able to trace his family back to the reign of ...

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Collet Dobson Collet (1812–1898) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Collet, Collet Dobson (1812–1898), radical and tax reformer, was born on 31 December 1812 in London. He was the eldest son of John Dobson (1778–1827), a London merchant, and his wife (and first cousin), Elizabeth Barker (1787–1875). Collet assumed the name of his maternal grandparents, as did his sister, ...

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Davenport, Allen (1775–1846), radical, was born on 1 May 1775 in Ewen, Gloucestershire. One of a hand-loom weaver's ten children, he was entirely self-educated. At nineteen he enlisted in the Windsor foresters, a light cavalry regiment, with which he served mainly in Scotland...

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Detrosier, Rowland [formerly Rowley Barnes] (1800?–1834), freethinking radical and popular lecturer, was born in London, the son of a Manchester merchant, Robert Norris, and a Frenchwoman named Detrosier. His parents abandoned him soon after his birth and he was adopted by a Swedenborgian tailor from ...

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Foote, George William (1850–1915), radical journalist and secularist, was born at 2 How Street Cottages, Plymouth, on 11 January 1850, the son of William Thomas Foot, customs officer, who died when he was about four. He was brought up an Anglican by his mother, ...

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Gast, John (c. 1772–1837), trade unionist and radical, was born in Bristol, the son of Robert Gast, a seller of milk. He had at least two brothers, and at some time married Elizabeth, who outlived him, but nothing else is known of his family. Soon after finishing his apprenticeship he left ...

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Herzen, Alexander [Aleksandr Ivanovich Gertsen] (1812–1870), radical publicist, was born at what is now 25 Tverskoy bulvar, Moscow, on 25 March 1812 os (6 April 1812 ns), the illegitimate son of the rich nobleman Ivan Alekseyevich Yakovlev (1767–1846) and his young German consort, ...

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Jones, William [pseud. Gwilym Cadfan] (bap. 1726, d. 1795), poet and radical, was baptized on 18 June 1726 at Llangadfan parish church, Montgomeryshire, the youngest of three sons born to William Siôn Dafydd (1666–1758), a farmer and stagecoach guard, and his second wife, ...

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Leslie, Alexander (fl. 1796–1798), radical bookseller and publisher, was born in Jedburgh, moving to Edinburgh some time before 1796. Before becoming Bookseller to the Rabble, as he liked to describe himself, he was apprenticed in Edinburgh, possibly to one Andrew Leslie, shoemaker. Leslie...

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William Lovett (1800–1877) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lovett, William (1800–1877), Chartist and radical, was born in Newlyn, Cornwall, on 8 May 1800, the son of William Lovett, captain of a small trading vessel and a native of Hull, who was drowned before Lovett's birth. His mother, Kezia (née Green) (...

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Maxse, Frederick Augustus (1833–1900), naval officer and radical, was the second son of James Maxse (1792–1864), a wealthy landowner, hunting man, and yachtsman, and his wife, Lady Caroline Fitzhardinge (1803–1886), the eldest daughter of Frederick Augustus, fifth earl of Berkeley. Sir Henry Berkeley Fitzhardinge Maxse...

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Francis Place (1771–1854) by Samuel Drummond, exh. RA 1833 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Place, Francis (1771–1854), radical and chronicler, was born on 3 November 1771, the illegitimate son of Simon Place and Mary Gray.

Simon Place was by trade a baker who had become the keeper of a '...

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Saull [Saul], William Devonshire (1783–1855), radical philanthropist and geological collector, was born on 21 April 1783 at Byfield, Northamptonshire, the son of William Saul and Elizabeth Devonshire. Nothing is known of Saull's early years, except that he married nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Weedon (1789–1860) at ...

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Thomas Seccombe

revised by Matthew Lee

Watson, James (1799–1874), radical and publisher, was born at Malton, Yorkshire, on 21 September 1799. His father died when he was barely a year old. His mother, 'a Sunday school teacher', taught him to read and write. About 1811 she returned to domestic service in the family of a clergyman who had paid for ...