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William Almack (d. 1781) by Richard Josey (after Thomas Gainsborough) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Henry Bell (1767–1830) by James Tannock Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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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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Aldo Berni (1909–1997) by unknown photographer Bristol Evening Post

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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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Bertorelli, Joe [Giuseppe Domenico] (1893–1994), restaurateur, was born on 10 June 1893 at Bergazzi di Bardi, Piacenza, Liguria, Italy, the youngest of the four sons of Lazzaro and Marianna Bertorelli. By the time of his birth his father and three elder brothers were already living and working in ...

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See Women traders and artisans in London

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(Xavier) Marcel Boulestin (1878–1943) by Marcel Gromaire, 1925 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

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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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Broadhead, William (1815–1879), trade unionist and publican, was born at Whirlow, near Sheffield, in September 1815. As a boy he worked with his father, who was a foreman in a saw-grinding workshop in Garden Street in Sheffield. On leaving his father, he worked for a time as a saw grinder at ...

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Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne Butlin (1899–1980) by Elliott & Fry, 1961 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Costa [née Murphy], Margaret Mary (1917–1999), restaurateur and writer on cookery, was born on 30 August 1917 in Umtali, Southern Rhodesia, where her father, Michael John Murphy, was a senior official in the customs and excise department of the Southern Rhodesian government. His job entailed frequent moves while she was growing up, including a time in ...

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Cranston [married name Cochrane], Catherine [Kate] (1849–1934), tea-room proprietor, was born on 27 May 1849 at 39 George Square, Glasgow. Often known as Kate, she was the only daughter and youngest of the three children of George Cranston, hotel-keeper (1817–1899), and his wife, ...

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Cranston, Robert (1815–1892), founder of temperance hotels, was born on 9 August 1815, at East Calder, near Edinburgh, the son of James Cranston, mason and innkeeper, and his wife, Janet Garvie. His grandfather Robert had moved there from Jedburgh about 1778 to act as factor for the ...

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See Cranston [married name Cochrane], Catherine [Kate]

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Madam Cresswell (d. c. 1698) by Pierce Tempest, pubd 1711 (after Marcellus Laroon the elder) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Ruth Ellis (1926–1955) by unknown photographer, 1955 Getty Images