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Andrew [St Andrew] (fl. 1st cent.), apostle and patron saint of Scotland, was a fisherman from Capernaum in Galilee.

In the synoptic gospels Andrew is merely mentioned as one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, but in the gospel of St John he appears as a follower of ...

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Arthur (supp. fl. in or before 6th cent.), legendary warrior and supposed king of Britain, has an attested career that is entirely posthumous. From obscure beginnings in British legend, he became internationally known in the twelfth century, particularly through the success of Geoffrey of Monmouth's...

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Atkins, Thomas [Tommy] (d. 1794), soldier and epitomist of the British infantryman, remains an obscure figure but is thought, according to the most reliable accounts, to have been a private serving in the 33rd regiment of foot during the Netherlands campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. On 15 September 1794 ...

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Beane, Sawney (fl. 15th–16th cent.), legendary murderer and cannibal, is first mentioned in print in broadsheets about 1700. Various versions of his life appeared: in some he is said to have been active during the reign of James I of Scotland (1424–36), while other accounts date his crimes to the reign of ...

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John Bull (supp. fl. 1712–) by Charles Williams, c. 1816 © Copyright The British Museum

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Bull, John (supp. fl. 1712–), fictitious epitomist of Englishness and British imperialism, first appeared in print in The History of John Bull, a political allegory—sometimes wrongly attributed to Jonathan Swift, but now accepted as the work of John Arbuthnot, Queen Anne's physician. The ...

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David [St David, Dewi] (d. 589/601), patron saint of Wales and founder of St David's, is known from written sources dating from no earlier than the eighth century and an inscription which may be of the seventh.

By the ninth century David's cult was sufficiently well established for him to be one of three Welsh saints included in the early ninth-century Irish martyrology of ...

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George [St George] (d. c. 303?), patron saint of England, is a figure whose historicity cannot be established with certainty. However, an inscription at Shaqqa in the Hauran, in the south-west of present-day Syria, which commemorates 'the holy and triumphant martyrs, George...

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See Mo Ling [St Mo Ling, Mo Ling Lúachra, Tairchell, Daircell]

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Benjamin Hall, Baron Llanover (1802–1867) by George Zobel (after T. Hurlstone) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hall, Benjamin, Baron Llanover (1802–1867), politician and eponymist of Big Ben, was the eldest son of Benjamin Hall (1778–1817), MP and ironmaster, of Hensol Castle, Glamorgan, and his wife, Charlotte, daughter of Richard Crawshay of Cyfarthfa, Glamorgan. He was born on 8 November 1802 in ...

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Hood, Robin (supp. fl. late 12th–13th cent.), legendary outlaw hero, is wellnigh impossible to identify, first because of the sparsity and peculiar nature of the evidence, and second because Robin quickly became a composite figure of an archetypal criminal, and then an outlaw hero....

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Theodore Edward Hook (1788–1841) by Daniel Maclise, 1834 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hook, Theodore Edward (1788–1841), writer and hoaxer, was born on 22 September 1788 at 3 Charlotte Street, Bedford Square, London, the son of James Hook (1746–1827), composer, and his wife, Elizabeth Jane Madden (d. 1795). Theodore Hook was educated at private schools, and subsequently for a short time at ...

Article

Richard Davenport-Hines

Jack the Ripper (fl. 1888), serial killer, was known as ‘the Whitechapel murderer’ or ‘Leather Apron’ until on 27 September 1888 the Central News Agency received a red-inked, defiant, semi-literate letter signed Jack the Ripper. This letter was probably a hoax concocted by news agency staff. It is suitable that he is known by a name devised in a journalistic stunt, for he was the first criminal to become a figure of international mythology through the medium of global communications. The indivisibility of his crimes from reportage of them is shown in a few words of a cabinet minister, ...

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Lindow Man (fl. 1st cent.?) by unknown photographer © The Trustees of the British Museum

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Lindow Man (fl. 1st cent.?), victim of ritual sacrifice, colloquially named Pete Marsh or the Body in the Bog, was found in Lindow Moss, near Wilmslow, Cheshire, in August 1984. A Celt, probably of the Brigantes tribe, he was a ritual sacrifice whose remains were deposited in a peat bog. The skin, hair, fingernails, bone collagen, and some internal organs had been preserved by the tannins of the sphagnum moss....

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Ludd, Ned (fl. 1811–1816), mythical machine-breaker, was the name signed by the authors of letters threatening the destruction of knitting frames. Luddism emerged initially in the small villages of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire (the address affixed to some of the letters was Sherwood Forest...

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Magnús Erlendsson, earl of Orkney [St Magnus] (1075/6–1116?), patron saint of Orkney, was the son of Erlend Thorfinnsson, earl of Orkney [see under Paul (d. 1098/)], and Thora, daughter of Sumerlidi Ospaksson of Iceland, whose union is the first evidence for close connections between ...

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Merlin [Myrddin] (supp. fl. 6th cent.), poet and seer, is a figure whose historicity is not proven. He is known in Welsh sources as Myrddin and from the twelfth century also as Merlinus or Merlin. No definite conclusion can be drawn from Myrddin's...