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Annet, Peter (1693–1769), religious controversialist, was born in Liverpool but nothing further is known about his background and early life. He worked for a time as a schoolmaster and developed a widely used system of shorthand that received some recognition. Joseph Priestley learned it at school and corresponded with ...

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Barker, Joseph (1806–1875), Methodist minister and politico-religious controversialist, was born on 11 May 1806 at Bramley, near Leeds. His ancestors, originally of Keighley, had been settled in this area for several generations as farmers and manufacturers. The identity of his parents has not been discovered, though it is known that his father was employed in woollen manufacture and served for some time in the militia, and that ...

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Maker: John Cochran

Joseph Barker (1806–1875) by John Cochran, pubd 1880 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Detrosier, Rowland [formerly Rowley Barnes] (1800?–1834), freethinking radical and popular lecturer, was born in London, the son of a Manchester merchant, Robert Norris, and a Frenchwoman named Detrosier. His parents abandoned him soon after his birth and he was adopted by a Swedenborgian tailor from ...

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Dodwell, Henry (1706–1784), religious controversialist and barrister, was born on 25 November 1706 at Shottesbrooke, Berkshire, the fourth child and eldest son of Henry Dodwell (1641–1711), classical scholar and theologian, and Anne Elliot (d. 1750). Educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, whence he matriculated on 17 April 1723, he proceeded BA on 9 February 1726 and went on to study law. He entered the ...

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Hall, Westley (1711–1776), dissenter, was born at Salisbury on 17 March 1711. His father, Thomas, was a clothier and his mother, Margaret, was the daughter of Thomas Westley, rector of Imber, near Warminster. Her brother, Robert Westley, became lord mayor of London and was knighted in 1744. The ...

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Edmund Hickeringill (bap. 1631, d. 1708) by Joseph Nutting, pubd 1707 (after James Jull) © Copyright The British Museum

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Hickeringill, Edmund (bap. 1631, d. 1708), Church of England clergyman and religious controversialist, was born in Aberford (near Leeds) where he was baptized on 19 September 1631. His father, Edmund Hickhorngill, the subject of a public proclamation in 1638 for absenting himself from church, was a recusant and the favoured servant of the papist ...

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Ilive, Jacob (bap. 1705, d. 1763), printer and religious polemicist, baptized at St Botolph, Aldersgate, London, on 6 July 1705, was the son of Thomas Ilive (d. 1724), a printer of Aldersgate Street, one of those 'said to be highflyers' (...

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Martin [née Bullock], Emma (1811/12–1851), socialist and freethinker, was born in Bristol, the fourth child of William Bullock, a cooper, and his wife, Hannah Jones, whose family owned a tea-dealing business in the city. Emma's father died in her infancy, and a year later her mother married her second husband, ...

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Mathers, Samuel Liddell (1854–1918), occultist, was born on 8 January 1854 at 11 De Beauvoir Place, Hackney, Middlesex, the son of William Mathers, a merchant's clerk, and his wife, Mary Ann, formerly Collins (d. 1885). From 1866 to 1870 he received a classical education at ...

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Morgan, Thomas (1671/2?–1743), theological and medical writer, was of Welsh origin and is said to have been 'a poor lad in a farmer's house' ( Protestant Dissenter's Magazine, 258) near Bridgwater, Somerset. Of his parents nothing is known. In his youth he showed enough promise for a dissenting minister, ...

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Alexander Gordon

revised by K. D. Reynolds

Taylor, Robert (1784–1844), deist, the sixth son of John Taylor (d. 1791), ironmonger, and his wife and cousin, née Elizabeth Jasper, was born at Walnut Tree House, Edmonton, Middlesex, on 18 August 1784. Following his father's death, he was placed in the guardianship of his uncle, ...

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Temple, William Johnson (bap. 1739, d. 1796), Church of England clergyman and essayist, was baptized on 20 December 1739 in Berwick upon Tweed, the eldest of the five children of William Temple (1710–1774), collector of customs for Berwick upon Tweed, merchant, and mayor of ...

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David Williams (1738–1816) by Thornthwaite (after John Francis Rigaud, exh. RA 1774) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Williams, David (1738–1816), political and religious theorist and founder of the Literary Fund, the son of William David (d. 1752), was born at Waunwaelod, near Watford, on the north slope of Caerphilly Mountain in the parish of Eglwysilan, Glamorgan, south Wales, and baptized there on 9 December 1738. His father invested his money in a shop supplying tools to mining works, but the venture ultimately failed. Three of his brothers '...