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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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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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Bell, Patrick (1799–1869), Church of Scotland minister and inventor of agricultural machinery, was born in April 1799 at mid-Leoch, in the parish of Auchterhouse, a few miles north-west of Dundee. He was one of at least two sons of George Bell, a tenant farmer at ...

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Bennett, Timothy (1676/7–1756), cordwainer and public access campaigner, is of obscure origins; details of his birth, family, and upbringing are unknown. On 19 July 1716, at All Hallows, London Wall, he married Katherine Magitt (1673/4–1749), of Kingston upon Thames, Surrey; the parish register—which also gives his wife's name as ...

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Brown, Sir William, first baronet (1784–1864), merchant and politician, was born on 30 May 1784 at Ballymena, co. Antrim, the eldest son of seven children of Alexander Brown (1764–1834), merchant, and Grace, daughter of John Davison of Drumnasole.

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Cadell, Thomas, the elder (1742–1802), bookseller, was born in Bristol and baptized on 12 November 1742, the son of William Cadell and his wife, Mary. On 7 March 1758 he was apprenticed by his father to the eminent London bookseller and publisher Andrew Millar...

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Clerk, Sir John, of Penicuik, first baronet (1649/50–1722), landowner and coal owner, was born probably at Penicuik in Edinburghshire, the son of John Clerk (1611–1674), merchant and art collector, and Mary (bap. 1630, d. in or before 1668), the daughter of Sir William Gray...

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Cowan, Sir John, baronet (1814–1900), paper manufacturer and political organizer, was born at 5 St John's Street, Edinburgh, on 7 May 1814, one of the eight children to reach maturity of Alexander Cowan (d. 1859), also a paper manufacturer, of Edinburgh and ...

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Walter Taplin

revised by Peter L. Payne

Craig, Sir John (1874–1957), steel manufacturer, was born at Clydesdale, New Stevenston, Lanarkshire, on 11 December 1874, the fourth son of Thomas Craig, a furnaceman at David Colville's Dalzell ironworks, Motherwell, and his wife, Elizabeth Wilson. He was educated at Dalziel public school, Motherwell...

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Cunningham, Waddell (1729–1797), merchant and politician, was born in Ballymacilmoyle, in the parish of Killead, co. Antrim, Ireland, the youngest son of John Cunningham, sometime ship's captain and a small farmer, and his wife, Jane Ross Waddell, of Islandderry, in the parish of ...

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Dale, David (1739–1806), merchant and cottonmaster, was born on 6 January 1739 at Stewarton, Ayrshire, the son of William Dale (1708–1796), a grocer and general dealer, and his second wife, Martha Dunlop (1719–1796). Dale was a local herdboy, and then in the 1750s an apprentice weaver in ...

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Dewar, John Alexander, first Baron Forteviot (1856–1929), whisky blender and philanthropist, was born at Perth on 6 June 1856, the second surviving son in a family of five sons and two daughters of John Dewar (1806–1880), wine and spirit merchant, and his wife, ...

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Drummond, George (1687–1766), accountant-general of excise in Scotland and local politician, was born on 27 June 1687, probably at Edinburgh, although in some accounts his place of birth is given as Newton Castle in Perthshire, where his father had business and family connections. He was one of at least three children of the factor and merchant ...

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Duncan, Sir Andrew Rae (1884–1952), industrial administrator and public servant, was born at Bower Lodge, Waterside, Irvine, Ayrshire, on 3 June 1884, one of eight children of George Duncan, a missionary and social worker, and his wife, Jessie Rae. He was educated at ...

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Duncan, John (1794–1881), hand-loom weaver and botanist, was born on 19 December 1794 at Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, the illegitimate son of John Duncan, weaver and soldier, from Drumlithie, and Ann Caird (c.1773–c.1830), also of Drumlithie, who decided to support herself and her child by weaving stockings and harvesting at nearby ...

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Edward, Thomas (1814–1886), naturalist and shoemaker, was born on 25 December 1814 at Gosport, Hampshire, one of several children of John Edward, Fife militiaman and weaver, and Margaret Mitchell of Aberdeen. His early years were spent at Kettle, Fife, and at Aberdeen. From childhood he was passionately fond of animals, bringing home so many ‘beasties’ that he was frequently flogged and confined to the house. Utterly unmanageable, by the age of six he had been expelled from three schools because of his zoological pursuits and truancy. Abandoning school, he found employment at ...

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Elliott, Ebenezer [called the Corn Law Rhymer] (1781–1849), poet and bar-iron merchant, was born on 17 March 1781 in the new foundry of Masbrough in the parish of Rotherham, Yorkshire, one of eleven children (of whom eight reached maturity) of Ebenezer Elliott (...

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Ferguson, Henry George [Harry] (1884–1960), designer of agricultural machinery, was born on 4 November 1884 at Growell, near Hillsborough in northern Ireland, the third son and fourth of eleven children, three girls and eight boys, of James Ferguson, a hill farmer, and his wife, ...

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Finlay, Kirkman (1773–1842), cotton merchant, was born in April 1773 in the Gallowgate, Glasgow, the second son of James Finlay (1727–1790), a minor Glasgow textile merchant, and his wife, Abigail, née Whirry, the daughter of an innkeeper at Whitehaven, Cumberland. James Finlay had the foresight to invite ...

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Fleck, Alexander, Baron Fleck (1889–1968), chemist and industrialist, was born in Glasgow on 11 November 1889, the only son of Robert Fleck, coal merchant, and his wife, Agnes Hendry, daughter of James Duncan, coal clerk. He was educated at Saltcoats public school and ...