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Almack, William (d. 1781), founder of club and assembly rooms, was born in Thirsk, in the North Riding of Yorkshire—not, as was sometimes stated by his contemporaries, in Scotland. In his youth he moved to London to work as a valet to the ...

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Bell, Henry (1767–1830), hotelier and developer of steam navigation, was born at Torphichen Mill, Linlithgowshire, on 7 April 1767, the fifth son of Patrick Bell and his wife, Margaret Easton. He was educated at the village school and then in Falkirk. Despite the reputation of Scottish schools, his education served him badly and for the rest of his life he was unable to spell and made many grammatical errors in his extensive correspondence. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed as a stonemason and then in 1783 as a millwright—two trades much in demand at a time when Scottish industry was growing rapidly. In 1786 he began work in the shipyard of ...

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Berni, Aldo (1909–1997), restaurateur, was born on 14 March 1909 in Bardi in northern Italy, the youngest of three sons of Louis Berni, the owner of the Louis Café in Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire, which served meals consisting of soup, a joint, and two vegetables. ...

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Boulestin, (Xavier) Marcel (1878–1943), restaurateur and writer on cookery, was born at Poitiers, France, where his mother, the daughter of a former lycée teacher, shared the house of his widowed maternal grandmother. Boulestin grew up and attended school in Poitiers, developing strong interests in music and the theatre. He visited his father, who maintained a largely separate existence, only for a month each summer, at the property that he owned at ...

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Butlin, Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne [Billy] (1899–1980), fairground proprietor and founder of holiday camps, was born in Cape Town, Cape Colony, where his parents had emigrated, on 29 September 1899, the elder child of William Butlin and Bertha Hill (d. 1933)...

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Carrier, Robert (1923–2006), writer on cookery and restaurateur, was born Robert Carrier McMahon on 10 November 1923, at Tarrytown, New York state, USA, the third son of a wealthy property lawyer of Irish descent. His mother was of German descent, and also from a wealthy background. (His middle name, later his assumed surname, was that of one of his grandmothers, chosen because it looked good in print and was easy to pronounce in French.) When his parents lost their money following the ...

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Cresswell, Madam (d. c. 1698), bawd and brothel keeper, of unknown origins, was made infamous by the slanders and libels of court wits and pamphleteers on account both of her prominence in the vice trade of Restoration London and her whig politics during the exclusion crisis. As a result her image was fixed by tory pamphleteers as a wizened old crone who would stoop to any ruse in order to corrupt the virtue of young countrywomen....

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Crichlow, Frank Gilbert (1932–2010), musician, restaurateur, and community activist, was born on 13 July 1932 in Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Little is known of his early life. He sailed for Britain on the SS Colombie in June 1953. In the post-war years migration to ...

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Crockford, William (bap. 1776, d. 1844), gambling club proprietor, was baptized in February 1776, the son of William Crockford, fishmonger, and his wife, Mary Ann, whose fish stall was at the eastern end of the Strand, Westminster. It is supposed that young William...

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Ellis [née Neilson], Ruth (1926–1955), nightclub hostess and convicted murderer, was born on 9 October 1926 at 74 West Parade, Rhyl, north Wales, the fourth of six children of Arthur Neilson (formerly Hornby), musician, and his wife, Elisaberta Goodall, a seamstress.

Born into poverty, ...

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Floyd, Keith (1943–2009), restaurateur, food writer, and broadcaster, was born at Folly Farm, Sulhamstead, Berkshire, on 28 December 1943, the younger child and only son of Sydney Albert Floyd (1915–1985), a meter repairman for the electricity board, and his wife, Winifred Phyllis Lorraine, ...

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Forte, Charles, Baron Forte (1908–2007), caterer and hotelier, was born on 26 November 1908 in the hamlet of Mortale, outside the village of Casalaticco, in an area of Italy known as the Ciociaria, the eldest son of Rocco Giovanni Forte and his wife, ...

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Freud, Sir Clement Raphael [Clay] (1924–2009), restaurateur, journalist, and politician, was born Clemens Raphael Freud in Berlin on 24 April 1924, the third and youngest son of Ernst Ludwig Freud (1892–1970), architect, and his wife, Lucie, née Brasch (1896–1989). He was the grandson of the founder of psychoanalysis, ...

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Joseph, Sir Maxwell [formerly Max] (1910–1982), hotelier and property dealer, was born Max Joseph on 31 May 1910, at 21 Whitechapel Road, London, the second of the three sons of Jack Joseph, a journeyman tailor and property dealer, and his wife, Sarah Orler...

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Keyser, Sir Polydor de (1832–1898), hotelier and politician, was born on 12 December 1832 in rue de l'Église, Dendermonde, Belgium, the younger son of Joost Constant Fidel Armand de Keyser (b. 1801) and his wife, Catharina Rosalie, née Troch. Constant de Keyser...

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Lemon, Denis Edward (1945–1994), newspaper proprietor and restaurateur, was born on 11 August 1945 at Berryfield House, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, the eldest child and only son of Albert Edward Lemon, an executive officer with the Assistance Board, and his partner, Jane Kenyon, formerly Unsworth (1912–1988)...

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Lo, Kenneth Hsiao Chien [Lo Xiaojan] (1913–1995), restaurateur and tennis player, was born on 12 September 1913 in Fuzhou, southern China, the second of the three sons of Lo Tsung Hien (Lo Zong Xian), a diplomatist, and his wife, Wei Ying...

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Mahomed, Deen [formerly Deen Mahomet] (1759–1851), shampooing surgeon and restaurateur, was born Deen Mahomet in May 1759, in Patna, Bihar, India, the younger son of an Indian officer in the East India Company's Bengal army. Both parents were Shi'i Muslims claiming descent from ...

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Meyrick [née Nason], Kate Evelyn (1875–1933), nightclub owner, was born on 7 August 1875 at 24 Cambridge Terrace, Kingstown, Dublin, the younger daughter of John William Washington Nason (c.1842–1876), a physician of Kingstown, who was heir to property at Newtown...

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Pontin, Sir Frederick William (1906–2000), founder of holiday camps, was born at 127 Edward Road, Walthamstow, Essex, on 24 October 1906, the eldest of the six children in the family of Frederick William Pontin, a cabinet-maker, and his wife, Elizabeth Marion Silyard. Unpersuaded by his father's attempt to steer him towards a job in a local bank, ...