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Abbot, Sir Maurice (1565–1642), merchant and politician, was born on 2 November 1565 and baptized three days later at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, the fifth of the six sons of Maurice Abbot (1519/20–1606), a merchant, and his wife, Alice Marsh or March (1525/6–1606)...

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Abney, Sir Thomas (1639/40–1722), merchant and mayor of London, was born at Willesley, Derbyshire, the youngest of four sons of James Abney, landowner, and Jane Mainwaring (d. after 1640). The Abney family had owned land at Willesley for several centuries, and James Abney...

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Argall, Sir Samuel (bap. 1580, d. 1626), colonial governor and merchant, was baptized on 4 December 1580 at Holy Trinity, East Peckham, Kent, the fourth son of Richard Argall (c.1533–1588), politician, and his third wife, Mary Scott (d. 1598). Under his father's will ...

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Atkinson, Richard (1739–1785), merchant and director of the East India Company, was born in Westmorland on 10 March 1739 and baptized on 5 April at St James's Church, Temple Sowerby, Westmorland. He was the third son of Matthew Atkinson of Temple Sowerby and his wife, ...

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Aubrey, Andrew (d. 1356), merchant and mayor of London, was the son of Roger and Denise Aubrey. It is likely that he was born in London since he did not mention a provincial parish in his will. He became the factor of Thomas Enfield...

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Baillie, James Evan (1781?–1863), merchant, banker, and politician, was born in Bristol, probably in 1781, into a successful Scottish merchant-planter family that had settled in Bristol in the 1770s. He was baptized at St Augustine-the-Less, Bristol, on 26 June 1782, the third but second surviving son of ...

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Barne, Sir George (c. 1500–1558), merchant and local politician, was the son of George Barne, grocer, of London, though the family seems also to have had connections in Wells, Somerset. His sister may have been the mother of Nicholas Culverwell (d. 1569) [...

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Barret, William (d. 1584), commercial agent and consul, is of obscure origins. The earliest mention of Barret concerns his assisting the merchant John Keele to load the Turkey Company's ship Bark Reynolds at Tripoli, Syria, with a cargo of galls, cottons, spices, and silk for its return journey to ...

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P. B. Austin

revised by Nuala Zahedieh

Beeston, Sir William (1636–1702), merchant and colonial governor, was born on 19 November 1636 at Posbrook, Titchfield, Hampshire, the second son of William Beeston of Posbrook and Elizabeth, daughter of Arthur Bromfield. His elder brother, Henry, was master of Winchester School and warden of ...

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Jonathan Belcher (1682–1757) by John Faber junior, 1734 (after Richard Philips) Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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Belcher, Jonathan (1682–1757), merchant and colonial governor, was born on 8 January 1682 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the fifth of seven children of Andrew Belcher (1648–1717), merchant and politician, and his wife, Sarah (1651–1689), the daughter of Jonathan Gilbert, Connecticut merchant and politician.

Following his father's example ...

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Bertram, Walter (d. 1495/6), merchant and provost of Edinburgh, is first recorded in 1464. He received payments for expensive cloth sold to James III in 1473 and by 1477 was clearly wealthy, as he bought the lands of Normangills in Lanarkshire from David Lindsay, ...

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Bethel, Slingsby (bap. 1617, d. 1697), merchant and political economist, was baptized in Alne, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, on 27 February 1617, a younger son of Sir Walter Bethel (d. 1622), gentleman, and Mary Slingsby (1582–1662), daughter of Sir Henry Slingsby...

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Slingsby Bethel (bap. 1617, d. 1697) by William Sherwin, 1680 © Copyright The British Museum

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Bludworth, Sir Thomas (b. in or before 1623, d. 1682), merchant and mayor of London, was born in London, the second surviving son of John Bludworth (bap. 1580, d. 1648), master of the Vintners' Company (1641–2), of Lombard Street in the parish of ...

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Bond, Denis (1588–1658), merchant and politician, was born on 30 August 1588, the eldest son of John Bond (1556–1633) of Lutton, in the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, merchant and four times mayor of Weymouth, and his wife, Margaret (d. 1631), daughter of ...

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Boston, John (d. 1804), radical and merchant in Australia, was born in Birmingham, but nothing further is known of his origins. As a young man he became a disciple of Thomas Paine and a supporter of the London Corresponding Society. At Birmingham he was associated with ...

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James Bowdoin (1726–1790) by Robert Feke, 1748 Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, Bequest of Mrs Sarah Bowdoin Dearborn

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Bowdoin, James (1726–1790), merchant and revolutionary politician in America, was born on 7 August 1726 in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest child of James Bowdoin (1676–1747), a prosperous merchant and landowner, and his second wife, Hannah Portage (d. 1734). Known in his youth as ...

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Bradshaw, Richard (bap. 1610, d. 1685), merchant and diplomat, was baptized at Pennington, Aspull, Lancashire, on 25 August 1610; his parents are unknown. A merchant of Chester, he was elected to the common council of the city on 14 July 1637, replacing Randle Finchett...