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Abbot, Sir Maurice (1565–1642), merchant and politician, was born on 2 November 1565 and baptized three days later at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, the fifth of the six sons of Maurice Abbot (1519/20–1606), a merchant, and his wife, Alice Marsh or March (1525/6–1606)...

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Thomas Aldersey (1521/22–1598) by Robert Peake the elder, 1588 © Chester City Council (Grosvenor Museum)

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Aldersey, Thomas (1521/2–1598), merchant, was born at Bunbury, near Spurstow in Cheshire, the second of five sons of John Aldersey (c.1494–1554), landowner, and Anne Bird of Colton near Chester. After an education in Bunbury, probably at Chantry House, Aldersey's apprenticeship began in ...

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Aldersey, William (1543–1616), merchant and antiquary, was baptized at St Oswald's, Chester, on 15 December 1543, the son of Ralph Aldersey (d. 1555) and Jane Goodman (d. c.1555). He followed in his father's footsteps as a successful merchant ironmonger. He married ...

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Anes, Dunstan [formerly Gonsalvo Anes; alias Gonzalo Jorge] (c. 1520–1594), merchant, was born in Portugal as Gonsalvo, the second son of a merchant, Jorge Anes (d. in or before 1540), and his wife, Elizabeth Rodrigues (b. 1481, d. after 1568)...

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Argall, Sir Samuel (bap. 1580, d. 1626), colonial governor and merchant, was baptized on 4 December 1580 at Holy Trinity, East Peckham, Kent, the fourth son of Richard Argall (c.1533–1588), politician, and his third wife, Mary Scott (d. 1598). Under his father's will ...

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Bacon, Anthony (bap. 1717, d. 1786), merchant and ironmaster, the son of William Bacon and his wife, Elizabeth Richardson, was baptized at St Bees, Cumberland, on 24 January 1717. His father and grandfather Thomas were ships' captains in the coal trade between Whitehaven...

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Banister, Thomas (d. 1571), merchant, of whose parentage or education nothing is known, married on 3 March 1549 Elisabeth Gamadge, a widow. He may have been member of parliament for Reigate in 1558 and was first warden of the Skinners' Company in 1563. In the 1550s he exported cloth to ...

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Banks, Sir John, baronet (bap. 1627, d. 1699), merchant and financier, was baptized at the parish church of All Saints, Maidstone, Kent, on 19 August 1627. He was the eldest in the family of two sons and one daughter of Caleb Banks of ...

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Bargrave, Robert (1628–1661), merchant and diarist, was born in Kent, possibly at the family home, Eastry Court, Eastry, near Sandwich, on 25 March 1628, the second surviving son of Isaac Bargrave (bap. 1586, d. 1643), dean of Canterbury, and his wife, Elizabeth (1593–1667)...

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Alexander Baring, first Baron Ashburton (1773–1848) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, c. 1810 ING Bank, NV, London Branch

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Baring, Alexander, first Baron Ashburton (1773–1848), merchant and banker, was born on 27 October 1773 (the frequently cited date of 1784 is incorrect) in Mincing Lane, London, the second child of the six sons and six daughters of Sir Francis Baring (1740–1810), merchant and banker, and his wife, ...

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Sir Francis Baring, first baronet (1740–1810) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1806–7 [left, with his brother John Baring (centre) and son-in-law Charles Wall (right)] private collection. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Baring, Sir Francis, first baronet (1740–1810), merchant and merchant banker, was born at Larkbear, Exeter, on 18 April 1740, third of the four surviving sons and one daughter of John Baring (1697–1748) and his wife, Elizabeth Baring (1702–1766), daughter of John Vowler, a prosperous ...

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Barnham, Benedict (bap. 1559, d. 1598), merchant and benefactor, was baptized on 2 June 1559 at St Mildred Poultry, London, the fourth and youngest son of Alice Barnham, silkwoman and benefactor, and her husband, Francis Barnham [see under Barnham, Alice], draper and local politician. From 1559 the family lived at ...

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Bates, Sir Percy Elly, fourth baronet (1879–1946), merchant and shipowner, was born at Beechenhurst, Wavertree, Liverpool, on 12 May 1879, the second of seven sons of Edward Percy Bates (1845–1899), who became second baronet, and his wife, Constance Elisabeth, daughter of Samuel Robert Graves...

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Sir Percy Elly Bates, fourth baronet (1879–1946) by George Charles Beresford, 1913 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Batley, Lawrence (1911–2002), businessman, was born on 15 February 1911 at 37 Bland Street, Lockwood, Huddersfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the elder son of John Arthur Batley, iron moulder, and his wife, Beatrice, née Fawley, weaver. Although he passed the entrance examination for ...

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Bayning, Paul (c. 1539–1616), merchant, was the son of Richard Bayning, a gentleman from Dedham in Essex, and Anne, the daughter of John Baker of Ipswich. He emerges in 1572 as a factor for merchants trading to Portugal, though it seems that he was engaged in clandestine trade with ...

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P. B. Austin

revised by Nuala Zahedieh

Beeston, Sir William (1636–1702), merchant and colonial governor, was born on 19 November 1636 at Posbrook, Titchfield, Hampshire, the second son of William Beeston of Posbrook and Elizabeth, daughter of Arthur Bromfield. His elder brother, Henry, was master of Winchester School and warden of ...