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Bradlaugh, Charles (1833–1891), politician and freethinker, was born on 26 September 1833 at home at 31 Bacchus Walk, Hoxton, London, the eldest of seven children born to Charles Bradlaugh, a solicitor's clerk, and his wife, Elizabeth Trimby, a former nursemaid. He was baptized at ...

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Charles Bradlaugh (1833–1891) by Walter Sickert, exh. New English Art Club 1890 © Estate of Walter R. Sickert. All rights reserved, DACS 2010; National Liberal Club; © reserved in the photograph

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Cotton, Sir Henry John Stedman (1845–1915), administrator in India and positivist, was born in Kumbakonam, Madras presidency, south India, on 13 September 1845, the first of two sons of Joseph John Cotton (1813–1867), East India Company servant, and his wife, Jessie Minchin, daughter of a ...

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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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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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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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Snell, Henry, Baron Snell (1865–1944), politician and secularist, was born on 1 April 1865 at Sutton-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, the son of Mary Snell, formerly Clark. His father's name was not registered; he was brought up by his mother and stepfather. His education at the village school was sporadic and rudimentary, and from the age of eight he was a cattle minder and bird scarer. By his tenth birthday he was working a twelve-hour day as a farm labourer. When aged twelve he was engaged at ...