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Albert Victor Alexander, Earl Alexander of Hillsborough (1885–1965) by Howard Coster, 1942 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Alexander, Albert Victor, Earl Alexander of Hillsborough (1885–1965), politician and co-operator, was born at 59 George Street, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, on 1 May 1885, the son of Albert Alexander (d. 1886), a blacksmith, and his wife, Eliza Jane, née Thatcher. On his father's death his mother moved back to her parents' house in ...

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Bailey, Sir John [Jack] (1898–1969), politician and co-operative movement activist, was born on 1 January 1898 in Miskin, Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, one of six children of John Bailey, miner, and his wife, Sarah Ann. Bailey attended Gwyn Ivor School, Miskin, until he was twelve. Working initially in a cobbler's shop, he entered the mines as a collier's boy. An accident in 1915 forced him to take a surface job, and in 1917 he enlisted in the ...

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Blandford, Thomas (1861–1899), co-operative movement activist, was born on 19 August 1861 in Curragh, co. Kildare, to a father of Scottish extraction and a mother of Irish descent. Blandford's parents are recorded in one source as strolling players and this is consistent with the limited record of his early life. The family settled in ...

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Cooper, William (1822–1868), promoter of the co-operative movement, was born in Rochdale, the son of James Cooper, a weaver, and his wife, Susan (née Taylor); he was probably the eldest of six children. Cooper had little formal education, but was drawn to discussion of political and economic issues. Influenced by the work of ...

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Dudley, Sir William Edward (1868–1938), co-operative society administrator, was born on 29 May 1868 at 1 Loch Street, Runcorn, Cheshire, the son of William Dudley, house painter, and his wife, Rebecca Cottrell. Dudley attended Runcorn parish church school until 1883, when he began work with ...

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Gallagher, Patrick [known as Paddy the Cope] (1870/71–1966), co-operative pioneer in Ireland, was born on 25 December 1871 (or possibly, given the lack of reliable sources, 1870) at Cleendra in the Rosses in the west of co. Donegal, the eldest son and the second of the nine children of ...

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Greening, Edward Owen (1836–1923), co-operative movement activist and social reformer, was born on 17 August 1836 at Warrington, Lancashire. His father owned a small wire-drawing factory, and the family moved to Manchester in Edward's early years. There he attended the Quaker school in ...

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George Jacob Holyoake (1817–1906) by Walter Sickert, exh. New English Art Club 1892 © Estate of Walter Sickert / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Holyoake, George Jacob (1817–1906), freethinker and co-operator, was born at 1 Inge Street, Birmingham, on 13 April 1817, the second of thirteen children and eldest son of George Holyoake (1790–1853), a printer, and Catherine Groves (1792–1867), a horn-button maker. He received a basic education at a dame-school and ...

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Howarth, Charles (1814–1868), co-operative movement activist, was born on 9 February 1814 in Rochdale, Lancashire, the son of George Howarth and his wife, Susan (née Bamford). Little is known of Howarth's early life and education, but while in his teens he was drawn to socialism and influenced by the ideas of ...

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Jones, Benjamin (1847–1942), co-operative movement activist and manager, was born on 9 September 1847 in Salford, Lancashire, the son of Reuben Jones, a dyer's labourer, and Mary, née Brazier, who worked as a power-loom weaver. Jones entered employment at the age of nine, working as an errand-boy and bookkeeper before joining the ...

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King, William (1786–1865), physician and promoter of co-operative principles, was born on 17 April 1786 at Ipswich, one of ten children of the Revd John King (1738–1822) and his wife, Elizabeth Sarah, née Bishop. King was educated at Ipswich grammar school, where his father had been master. Aged fifteen he entered ...

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Marcroft, William (1822–1894), co-operative movement activist and company promoter, was born on 15 July 1822 at Box Cottage, Fog Lane, Middleton, Lancashire, the illegitimate son of Sally Marcroft (1801–1841), a farm servant, and Richard Howarth, a weaver. Shortly after his birth he and his mother moved to ...

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May, Henry John (1867–1939), co-operative movement activist and internationalist, was born on 16 July 1867 at 98 Villas Road, Plumstead, Kent, the son of Henry May, painter, and his wife, Mary Jane (née Kimber). After an elementary education he joined the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS)...