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Clarke, John Smith (1885–1959), politician, lion-tamer, and newspaper editor, was born on 4 February 1885 at 66 Albert Street, Jarrow, co. Durham, the thirteenth child of John Smith Clarke, circus entertainer, and his wife, Sally Ann Chiswell, who came from Gypsy stock. Only seven of the children survived childhood, and poverty stalked the family. ...

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Patrick Collins (1859–1943) by unknown photographer with the permission of the National Fairground Archive, the University of Sheffield

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Collins, Patrick (1859–1943), showman and politician, was born on 12 May 1859 at 58 Broughton, Chester, the son of John Collins, agricultural labourer (later, general dealer), and his wife, Annoia McDermott. One of five children, he attended St Wedburgh's School in Chester, but left at the age of ten and travelled ...

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[Anon.]

revised by Nilanjana Banerji

Coppin, George Selth (1819–1906), actor and politician, born at Steyning, Sussex, on 8 April 1819, was the only child of George Selth Coppin (1794–1854) and his wife, Elizabeth Jane Jackson (1789–1869). His father, of a Norwich family, gave up medical practice for the stage and became a theatrical manager....

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George Selth Coppin (1819–1906) by Falk Studios, c. 1905 La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria

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Crawley, Aidan Merivale (1908–1993), politician and television executive, was born on 10 April 1908 at the vicarage, Benenden, near Cranbrook, Kent, the third of the five children of Arthur Stafford Crawley, vicar of Benenden (later canon of Windsor), and his wife, Anstice Katharine, ...

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Aidan Merivale Crawley (1908–1993) by Elliott & Fry, 1950 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Frece, Sir (Abraham) Walter de (1870–1935), music-hall entrepreneur and politician, was born on 7 October 1870 at 90 Salisbury Street, Everton, Liverpool, the eldest son of Henry de Frece, music-hall manager, and his wife, Marian Rowe. He was born into a prominent Liverpool...

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In 1933 Freeman went to Brasenose College, Oxford (of which he was to become an honorary fellow in 1969), to read literae humaniores. His time at Oxford was not academically distinguished, but in other respects he made his mark. He was an imposing physical presence (an early girlfriend recalled that he was ‘dashingly handsome with wavy red hair’: ...

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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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Sir Clement Raphael Freud (1924–2009) by Duffy, 1960 © Getty Images

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Mary Agnes Hamilton (1882–1966) by Peggy Smith, 1930 © reserved; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hamilton [née Adamson], Mary Agnes (1882–1966), politician and broadcaster, was born on 8 July 1882, at 60 Parsonage Road, Withington, Manchester, the eldest of six children of Robert Adamson (1852–1902), a Scot, professor of logic at Owens College (later part of Manchester University...

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Hennessy, David James George, third Baron Windlesham and Baron Hennessy (1932–2010), politician, broadcasting executive, and college head, was born on 28 January 1932 at 32 Belgrave Square, Mayfair, London, the only son and second of the four children of James Bryan George Hennessy, ...

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Charles Hill, Baron Hill of Luton (1904–1989) by Elliott & Fry, 1951 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hill, Charles, Baron Hill of Luton (1904–1989), doctor, politician, and broadcaster, was born in Islington, London, on 15 January 1904, the youngest in the family of two sons and a daughter of Charles Hill, maker of pianoforte parts, who died in 1906, and his wife, ...

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Hobart, George, third earl of Buckinghamshire (1731–1804), theatre manager and politician, was born in London on 8 September 1731, the eldest of the two sons (there were no daughters) of John Hobart, later first earl of Buckinghamshire (1693–1756), and his second wife, Elizabeth Bristow (...

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Philipson [née Russell], Mabel (1887–1951), actress and politician, was born at 1 Copeland Avenue, Peckham, Surrey, on 2 January 1886, the daughter of Albert Russell, a commercial traveller, and his wife, Alice Shaw. Her mother died when Mabel was eleven, requiring her to help raise two younger siblings. She left school to work at a theatre box office in ...

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Porter, Nyree Dawn (1936–2001), actress, was born on 22 January 1936 in Napier, New Zealand, the first daughter and first child of Kenneth Norman Porter, master butcher and property developer, originating from Scotland, and his wife, Edna May Porter. Her forename Ngaire, later phoneticized to ...

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Nyree Dawn Porter (1936–2001) by Vivienne, 1960s © reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London