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Blood, Thomas (1617/18–1680), adventurer and spy, was born at Sarney, co. Meath. His early life is obscure, but it was later claimed that his father (who was possibly Neptune Blood) was a blacksmith and ironworker, 'serious, honest and of no inferior credit' (...

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Thomas Blood (1617/1818–1680) by unknown artist The Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge

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Champion de Crespigny, Sir Claude, fourth baronet (1847–1935), military adventurer and sportsman, was born in Chelsea on 20 April 1847, the eldest son of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, third baronet (1818–1868), of Wivenhoe Hall, Essex, and his wife, Mary, second daughter of ...

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Dartasso, Janico (d. 1426), adventurer, was born in Navarre, of Basque descent; he is first mentioned in 1367–8, while serving in the garrison of Cherbourg, then in the possession of Charles d'Évreux, king of Navarre. It seems likely that he remained at Cherbourg...

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Devereux, Walter, first earl of Essex (1539–1576), nobleman and adventurer, was born on 16 September 1539 at Chartley, Staffordshire, the eldest son of Sir Richard Devereux and his wife, Dorothy, daughter of George Hastings, first earl of Huntingdon. Sir Richard, who was created a knight of the Order of the Garter on 20 February 1548, died the same year, in the lifetime of his father, ...

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Walter Devereux, first earl of Essex (1539–1576) by unknown artist, 1575? [after original, 1572] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Gregor MacGregor (1786–1845) by Samuel William Reynolds senior (after Simon Jacques Rochard) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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MacGregor, Gregor (1786–1845), soldier and adventurer, was the grandson of Gregor MacGregor Drummond who had enlisted in the forerunner of the Black Watch (then Sempill's Highlanders), served abroad with distinction, and been instrumental in obtaining the repeal of legislation which had outlawed the clan ...

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Mercadier (d. 1200), adventurer and mercenary, rose from obscure Provençal origins to become a general and intimate of Richard I. He receives his first mention in October 1183 fighting for Richard against rebellious lords in Aquitaine following the death of Henry, the Young King...

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Michelborne, Sir Edward (c. 1562–1609), soldier and adventurer, was the eldest son of Edward Michelborne (d. 1587), landowner, of Clayton, Sussex, and his first wife, Jane, daughter of Thomas Farnfold (or Parsons) of Steyning, Sussex. He is not to be confused with his kinsman, the Latin poet ...

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Montmorency [Mount Maurice], Hervey de (fl. c. 1135–c. 1189), adventurer, became involved in Ireland through his association with his nephew, Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare (c. 1130–1176), earl of Pembroke and lord of Striguil (Strongbow). Their relationship stemmed from the marriage of ...

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Phips [Phipps], Sir William (1651–1695), adventurer, army officer, and colonial governor, was born on 2 February 1651 at Phips plantation, Jeremisquam Neck, Nequasett, Maine. He was the son of James Phips (c.1609–1651×5) of Mangotsfield, Gloucestershire, and Mary, whose origins are unknown. ...

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Pike [Peeke], Richard (fl. 1620–1658), soldier and adventurer, was probably the son of Richard Pike, an attorney practising in Tavistock, Devon, in 1597; unfortunately the Tavistock parish registers do not begin until 1620. In that year Pike served as a common soldier in the attack on the ...

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Pocock, (Henry) Roger Ashwell (1865–1941), adventurer and writer, was born on 9 November 1865 at 4 Belle Vue, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, the son of Captain Charles Ashwell Botelar Pocock (1829–1899), naval officer and later Anglican deacon, and his wife, Sarah Margaret (d. c...

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Price, Thomas [Tomos Prys] (c. 1564–1634), adventurer and Welsh-language poet, was the eldest son of Dr Ellis Price (c. 1505–1594), the notorious Red Doctor, and Ellyw Poole. He could trace his lineage to Marchweithan, the head of one of Gwynedd's fifteen tribes. His great-grandfather was ...

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Robert fitz Stephen (d. before 1192), adventurer, was the son of Stephen, constable of Cardigan Castle, and of Nest (d. c. 1130), daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of Deheubarth, who also had children with Gerald of Windsor and Henry I. Robert therefore was a maternal uncle of ...

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Sherley [Shirley], Anthony [known as Sir Anthony Sherley], Count Sherley in the nobility of the Holy Roman empire (1565–1636?), adventurer and diplomat in the Persian service, was born at the family estate of Wiston in Sussex, one of nine children of Sir Thomas Sherley (c. 1542–1612)...

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Anthony Sherley, Count Sherley in the nobility of the Holy Roman empire (1565–?1636) by Aegidius Sadeler, pubd 1612 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Webbe, Edward (b. 1553/4), soldier and adventurer, son of Richard Webbe, 'master gunner of England' (Webbe, Travailes, 17), was born at St Katharine by the Tower, London. Nothing is known of his mother. 'A simple man voide of learning' (...

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[Anon.]

revised by James Falkner

Willoughby, Digby (1845–1901), soldier and adventurer, left England for South Africa in 1871 to seek his fortune. In the Zulu campaign of 1879 Willoughby was with the Natal native contingent, and was in command of the native mounted corps. He then for a time acted as auctioneer's assistant, subsequently becoming partner in the firm of ...