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Abell, Adam (1475x80?–1537?), Franciscan friar and chronicler, was born in Salt Preston, Haddingtonshire, but the names and occupations of his parents are not recorded and details of his early life are scant. What little is known is derived largely from his chronicle, ...

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Abercromby, David (d. 1701?), physician and philosopher, most probably belonged to the Abercrombys of Seaton in the north-east of Scotland where he is believed to have been born. It is not known if Abercromby married or had children, although what survives of his biography makes marriage unlikely. Nothing is known of his parentage....

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Abercromby, Patrick (b. 1656, d. in or after 1716), antiquary, was born at Forfar, the third son of Alexander Abercromby of Fetterneir and his wife, Jean Seton. The family was a branch of the Abercrombys of Birkenbog in Banffshire, which in turn descended from the ...

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Abingdon, Henry (d. 1437), ecclesiastic and college head, probably came from Abingdon in Berkshire. He was first elected a fellow of Merton in 1390 and spent most of his later career either there or fulfilling his residential duties as a canon of Wells...

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Abudacnus, Josephus (fl. 1595–1643), scholar of oriental languages, was born in Cairo. His parents were Copts, his father probably connected with the Ottoman administration. His Arabic name, Yusuf ibn Abu Dhaqn, was Latinized as Josephus Abudacnus (or Barbatus). In 1595, after a rudimentary education in ...

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John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902) by Eveleen Myers, 1890s © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg, first Baron Acton (1834–1902), historian and moralist, was born at Naples on 10 January 1834, the only child of Sir Ferdinand Richard Edward Acton, seventh baronet (1801–1837), and Marie Louise Pelline de Dalberg (1812–1860), the French-bred heir of ...

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Adams, James (1737–1802), Jesuit and philologist, was born on 3 November 1737 to William Adams and Anne or Sarah Spencer; he refers to Bury St Edmunds as his 'native town' (Euphonologia Linguae Anglicanae, 1794, 7). He was educated at the Jesuit college in ...

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Adgar [William] (fl. 1150x1200), Anglo-Norman translator, was baptized Adgar but reveals that he was more commonly known as William; Trouvère (roughly meaning ‘poet’) is a later and inauthentic epithet. As the author of the first vernacular rendering of the miracles of the Virgin Mary...

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Ælfric of Eynsham [Ælfric Grammaticus, Ælfric the Homilist] (c. 950–c. 1010), Benedictine abbot of Eynsham and scholar, is of unknown origins, though his language suggests he came from Wessex. He was educated under Æthelwold in the monastic school at Winchester, and after becoming a monk and priest was sent about 987 to the abbey of ...

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Æthelweard [Ethelwerd] (d. 998?), chronicler and magnate, was ealdorman of south-western England. He styled himself 'Patricius Consul Fabius Quaestor', a latinization of 'Æthel-/ealdorman/Fabius/-weard'. He was the father of Æthelmær, grandfather of one Æthelweard and grandfather-in-law of another: all also ealdormen, and two of the same south-western ealdormanry as ...

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C. F. Keary

revised by Marios Costambeys

Aio (supp. fl. 950x75), supposed historian, is said to have been a monk in the abbey of Crowland, Lincolnshire, and is mentioned only in the forged Historia Croylandensis attributed to Ingulf, a genuine eleventh-century abbot of the same monastery. This work was probably written in the mid-fifteenth century and professed to make use of material collected by two monks of ...

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Alban [St Albans], Roger (d. after 1461), genealogist, copyist, and Carmelite friar, was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and joined his order in London. He was ordained acolyte on 17 December 1401 and deacon on 19 December 1405. His name occurs as the copyist on three manuscripts, BL, Harley MS 3138 (dated 1424), Harley MS 211, and Stowe MS 8, and it has also been claimed that he copied BL, Stowe MS 38 and, in 1439, the anti-...

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Alcock, Simon (d. 1459), scholastic author, was educated at Oxford, where he had proceeded MA by 1422 and DD by 1427, at which date he composed the De arte dictaminis, now MS 184.4 of the library of St John's College, Oxford. He may also have composed the ...

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Aldhelm [St Aldhelm] (d. 70910) drawing The British Library

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Aldhelm [St Aldhelm] (d. 709/10), abbot of Malmesbury, bishop of Sherborne, and scholar, was a prolific Latin author whose idiosyncratic style of composition in the media of prose and verse, both metrical and rhythmical, was profoundly influential both in England and on the continent up to the Norman conquest. His life is moderately well documented: ...

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Alfonsi, Petrus (fl. 1106–1126), scholar and translator of scientific works, was born in northern Spain, to Jewish parents. He was baptized a Christian on 29 June 1106 in Huesca, Aragon, with the names of the apostle on whose feast day the baptism took place and of his godfather, ...

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Francesco Algarotti, Count Algarotti in the Prussian nobility (1712–1764) by Jean-Étienne Liotard, c. 1745 Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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Algarotti, Francesco, Count Algarotti in the Prussian nobility (1712–1764), poet and scholar, was born on 11 December 1712 in the family home in Venice on the Fondamenta Nuove, the second son of Rocco Algarotti (d. 1726) and his wife, Maria Mercati. His father was a prosperous merchant of Paduan origin, settled in ...

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Allanson, Peter [name in religion Athanasius] (1804–1876), historian and abbot of Glastonbury, was born on 11 June 1804 in Castle Street, Holborn, London, the second son of William Walter Allanson and his wife, Mary Ann Barber, from Lambeth. The family was Roman Catholic and ...