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Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626) attrib. Abraham van Blyenberch, c. 1618 © Royal Society

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Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626), lord chancellor, politician, and philosopher, was born on 22 January 1561 at York House in the Strand, London, the second of the two sons of Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510–1579), lord keeper, and his second wife, Anne (...

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William Elphinstone (1431–1514) by unknown artist, c.1505 University of Aberdeen

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Elphinstone, William (1431–1514), administrator, bishop of Aberdeen, and founder of the University of Aberdeen, was probably born in Glasgow. His father, also named William, was a younger son of Sir William Elphinstone of Pittendreich, Stirlingshire, but by 1430 had embarked upon an ecclesiastical career and had thereby committed his son to the illegitimate state. The ...

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Richard Burdon Haldane, Viscount Haldane (1856–1928) by Lafayette, 1906 V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Haldane, Richard Burdon, Viscount Haldane (1856–1928), politician, educationist, and lord chancellor, was born at 17 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, on 30 July 1856. He was the second son (but first surviving infancy) of Robert Haldane (1805–1877), writer to the signet and a Baptist, and his second wife, ...

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Edward Hyde, first earl of Clarendon (1609–1674) after Adriaen Hanneman, c. 1648–55 private collection; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hyde, Edward, first earl of Clarendon (1609–1674), politician and historian, was born on 18 February 1609 at Dinton, Wiltshire, and baptized there on 22 February, the sixth of the nine children of Henry Hyde (c.1563–1634), gentleman, and his wife, Mary (...

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Walter of Merton (c. 1205–1277) seal The British Library

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Merton, Walter of (c. 1205–1277), administrator, bishop of Rochester, and founder of Merton College, Oxford, was the son of William Cook (le Kuk, le Keu) of Basingstoke, Hampshire, and in his early years was known as Walter of Basingstoke. His father, who died ...

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Sir Thomas More (1478–1535) by Hans Holbein the younger, 1527 © The Frick Collection, New York

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More, Sir Thomas [St Thomas More] (1478–1535), lord chancellor, humanist, and martyr, was born, most scholars agree, between two and three in the morning of 6 February 1478 (alternative dates are 7 February, 1477 or 1478) in Milk Street, Cheapside, London, the eldest of three sons and second of seven children of ...

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John Spottiswoode (1565–1639) by Wenceslaus Hollar, pubd 1655 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Spottiswoode, John (1565–1639), archbishop of St Andrews and historian, was born in Greenbank, in the barony of Calder, Edinburghshire, the eldest son of John Spottiswoode (1509/10–1585), the widely respected protestant reformer and superintendent of Lothian and Tweeddale, and Beatrix Crichton, the daughter of ...

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Tiptoft [Tibetot], John, first earl of Worcester (1427–1470), administrator and humanist, was the only son of John Tiptoft, first Baron Tiptoft (c. 1378–1443), and his second wife, Joyce (c.1403–1446), younger daughter of Edward Charlton, fifth Baron Charlton of Powys (d...

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William Waynflete (c. 1400–1486) tomb effigy by courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Winchester

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Waynflete [Wainfleet, Patten], William (c. 1400–1486), bishop of Winchester and founder of Magdalen College, Oxford, was the elder son of Richard Patten (also known as Barbour) of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, and Margery, daughter of William Brereton of Cheshire and Lincolnshire. Little is known of the ...