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John Adams (1768?–1829) attrib. Richard Beechey, 1825 Phillips Picture Library

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Adams, John [alias Alexander Smith] (1768?–1829), seaman, mutineer, and settler, was born in London probably in 1768 and was serving under the name of Smith as an able seaman on HMS Bounty at the time of the mutiny on 28 April 1789 [...

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H. M. Chichester

revised by A. G. L. Shaw

Anderson, Joseph (1790–1877), army officer and colonist, was born on 1 July 1790 at Keoldale, Sutherland, Scotland, the son of James Anderson of Rispond and his wife, Fairly Gordon. In 1805 he was appointed an ensign in the 78th highlanders, with which he served in ...

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Atkinson, Edward Leicester (1881–1929), naval medical officer and explorer in Antarctica, was born on 23 November 1881 at Sion Hill, St Vincent, Windward Islands, West Indies, the third of eight children and the second and sole surviving son of Edward Leycester Atkinson, then an accountant at the ...

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Sir George Back (1796–1878) by Maull & Polyblank Howarth-Loomes Collection; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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A. H. Beesly

revised by Andrew Lambert

Back, Sir George (1796–1878), naval officer and explorer, was born on 6 November 1796 at Stockport, Cheshire, the second son of John Back and his wife, Ann. He entered the navy as midshipman of the Arethusa in 1808. He was present at the destruction of the batteries at ...

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Ronald Bayne

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Barker, Collet (1784–1831), army officer and explorer, was born near Paradise Gardens, Hackney, Middlesex, on 31 December 1784, the son of William Barker (c.1748–1832), skinner and mercer of Newbury, Berkshire, and Sarah Collet (1755–1808), elder daughter of Samuel Collet, of an established family of ...

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J. K. Laughton

revised by Peter Le Fevre

Barker, John (c. 1600–1653), naval officer and shipmaster, was possibly related to the John Barker of Ratcliffe, Middlesex, shipmaster and captain of the Golden Cock who in 1629, aged forty-five, appeared before the admiralty court in connection with illegally seizing, and selling, a ship belonging to the ...

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William Bedloe (1650–1680) by Robert White, pubd 1681 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bedloe, William (1650–1680), informer and adventurer, was the second son of Isaac Bedloe (d. 1656). William Bedloe was born in Chepstow on 20 May 1650 and spent his early life both there and in Bristol. Much of his early life was deliberately clouded in obscurity. His own published account of his parentage and ancestry remains dubious. He claimed that his father had been a gentleman soldier who had served the king in the civil wars and whose own father was ...

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Best, Thomas (1570–1639), sea captain and master of Trinity House, was baptized on 8 June 1570 at Merstham, Surrey, the youngest son of Robert Best, an interpreter for the Muscovy Company, and Anne, formerly Bowman. Later, in 1623, Best told Sir William Conway...

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Billings, Joseph (1758–1806), explorer and hydrographer in Russia, was born in 1758 at Turnham Green, Middlesex, according to ship musters; parish church registers confirm the birth of Joseph, son of Thomas and Mary Billing, on 6 September 1758. Billings's signed Russian service record, however, gives 1761 as the year of his birth. Other sources indicate that ...

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H. E. D. Blakiston

revised by Christopher J. Schmitz

Blakiston, Thomas Wright (1832–1891), army officer and explorer, was born at Lymington in Hampshire on 27 December 1832, the second of three sons of John Blakiston (1785–1867), army officer, and his wife, Jane, daughter of the Revd Thomas Wright of Market Harborough, Leicestershire...

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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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Borough, Stephen (1525–1584), explorer and naval administrator, was born on 25 September 1525 at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon, the elder son of Walter Borough (1494–1548) and Mary Dough; his younger brother was William Borough (d. 1598).

With his uncle, John Borough (d. 1570)...

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Borough, William (bap. 1536, d. 1598), explorer and naval administrator, was born at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon, to Walter Borough (1494–1548) and Mary (née Dough) and baptized on 18 August 1536 in St Mary's, Northam. His childhood experiences included voyages made with his elder brother, ...

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J. T. Gilbert

revised by S. J. Skedd

Bradstreet, Dudley (1711–1763), adventurer and spy, was born in Tipperary, where his father had obtained considerable land under the Cromwellian grants. His father's wealth was much reduced by debts, and Dudley, who was the youngest son, was looked after by a foster father in ...

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Broughton, Thomas Duer (1778–1835), army officer in the East India Company and writer on India, was born in Bristol on 8 March 1778, son of the Revd Thomas Broughton, rector of St Peter's, Bristol, and his wife, Jane; he was great-grandson of the ...

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Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842–1885) by James Tissot, 1870 © National Portrait Gallery, London