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James Abercromby (1706–1781) by unknown artist © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Abercromby, James (1706–1781), army officer and politician, was born in Glassaugh, Banffshire, the son of Alexander Abercromby (1677–1728), laird of Glassaugh, politician and army officer, and his wife, Helen Meldrum. With his father's assistance he became commissioner of supply and justice of the peace in ...

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Acton, Sir Robert (b. before 1497, d. 1558), saddler and member of parliament, was born into a family of Worcestershire gentry, the son of Richard Acton of Sutton and his wife, Margery Dore. How he obtained an entrée to the royal court is unknown, but by 22 October 1518 he was a groom of the chamber, subsequently becoming a page (1526) and a gentleman usher (1528). More important to his advancement, however, was his marriage, by May 1528, to ...

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Allen, Francis (c. 1583–1658), politician and regicide, was probably born in London, though nothing is as yet known of his early life or parentage. He first appears in the mid-1630s as a liveryman of the Goldsmiths' Company living on Fleet Street. He was one of those goldsmiths living in 'remote' places who opposed attempts to force them back into the ...

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Andrews, John Miller (1871–1956), prime minister of Northern Ireland, was born on 17 July 1871 at Ardara, Comber, co. Down, the eldest child in the family of four sons and one daughter of Thomas Andrews DL, flax spinner, also of Ardara, and his wife, ...

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Annesley, Arthur, first earl of Anglesey (1614–1686), politician, was born on 10 July 1614 on Fishshamble Street, Dublin, the first son of Francis Annesley, first Baron Mountnorris and second Viscount Valentia (bap. 1586, d. 1660), a politician and substantial landowner in Ireland, and his first wife, ...

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Anstruther, Sir John, fourth baronet and first baronet (1753–1811), politician and judge, was born on 27 March 1753 at Elie House, Elie, Fife, the second son of Sir John Anstruther, second baronet (1718–1799), politician, and his wife, Janet Fall (1727–1802), daughter of James Fall...

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Ashley, Sir Anthony, baronet (1551/2–1628), politician and translator of The Mariners Mirrour, was the eldest son of Sir Anthony Ashley of Damerham in Hampshire, a cadet of the long-established Ashleys of Wimborne St Giles (Dorset), and Dorothy, daughter of John Lyte of Lytes Cary (Somerset)...

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Aylmer, Matthew, first Baron Aylmer of Balrath (d. 1720), naval officer and politician, was the second son of Sir Christopher Aylmer (c.1615–1671), first baronet, of Balrath, co. Meath, and his wife, Margaret, née Plunkett (d. 1671). In 1672 he entered the regiment of the ...

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Baines, Edward (1774–1848), newspaper proprietor, politician, and historian, was born at Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, Lancashire, on 5 February 1774, the second son of Richard Baines (d. 1811) and his wife, Jane (née Chew). Richard Baines, who was born near Ripon and came from a farming family, had moved to ...

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Edward Baines (1774–1848) by John Cochran, pubd 1834 (after Thomas Hargreaves) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Baker, John (1660–1716), naval officer and politician, was a son of James Baker (d. before 1666), a mariner of Deal, and his wife, Elizabeth (d. after 1715). He was appointed second lieutenant of the Woolwich on 14 November 1688, became captain of the ...

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Balfour, Sir James, of Pittendreich (c. 1525–1583), politician and legal writer, was the eldest son of Sir Michael Balfour (d. 1577) of Mountquhanie in Fife, and Joneta Boswell. He may have been educated at St Andrews in 1539 or 1540, when he would have been about fifteen years old, and was at ...

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Bampfield, Thomas (1622/3–1693), speaker of the House of Commons, was a younger son of John Bampfield (d. c.1650) and Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Drake. The Bampfields were one of Devon's leading gentry families, seated at Poltimore near Exeter. After attending Exeter College, Oxford...

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Praisegod Barbon (c. 1598–167980) by unknown engraver © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barbon [Barebone], Praisegod (c. 1598–1679/80), lay preacher and politician, first appears in 1623, when he was made free of the Company of Leathersellers in London; having served an eight- or nine-year apprenticeship, he was probably then aged about twenty-five. At an unknown date, but probably by 1632, ...

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See Barclay, Robert, of Ury

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Barnardiston, Sir Samuel (1620–1707), politician, was born on 23 June 1620, the third son of Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston (1588–1653) and his wife, Jane Soame (d. 1669). He was twice married, first to Thomasine (d. 1654), daughter of Joseph Brand of Edwardstone, Suffolk...

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Isaac Barré (1726–1802) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1766 private collection. Photograph: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

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Barré, Isaac (1726–1802), army officer and politician, was born in Dublin on 15 October 1726, the only son of a merchant, Peter Barré (d. 1776), and his wife, Marie Madelaine, née Raboteau, both Huguenot refugees. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin...