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Allestree, Richard (b. before 1582, d. c. 1643), almanac maker and mathematician, was a younger son of William Allestree (b. before 1520, d. 1581) and his wife, Ellen. The family lived at Alvaston and Derby. Richard was an uncle of the famous royalist divine ...

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Allin, John (1623–1683), nonconformist minister and alchemist, was born on 13 October 1623 in Wrentham, Suffolk, the son of the Revd John Allen, or Allin (c. 1596–1671), and his first wife, Margaret, née Morse (c.1598–1653). At the time of Allin's birth his father was the curate in ...

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Andrews, Henry (1744–1820), astronomer and astrologer, was born on 4 February 1744 in Frieston, Lincolnshire. His background was humble, and he received little or no formal education. A passion for astronomy was evident from a very early age, and by the time he was ten he had acquired a telescope, which he used to set on a table on ...

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Andrews, William (1634/5–1712/13), astrologer and teacher of mathematics, was a well-known compiler of almanacs. He spent his adult life in Essex, at Ashdown (1656), Saffron Walden (by 1660), and nearby Radwinter (from 1668), but it is not known whether he married. He studied astrology from about 1652 and composed his first almanac, for 1655, at the age of nineteen; a new edition followed every year until his death. Though he included political prophecies, he avoided controversy by taking a firmly patriotic line, predicting disasters for ...

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Armstrong, Edward Allworthy (1900–1978), ornithologist and Church of England clergyman, was born at Corlea, Lowwood, Belfast, on 8 October 1900, the younger child and only son of Hamilton Armstrong, manufacturer's agent, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Susan, daughter of Dr Samuel W. Allworthy...

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Askham [Ascham], Anthony (c. 1517–1559), writer on astronomy and almanac maker, was born at Kirby Wiske, near Northallerton, Yorkshire, the third son of John Ascham (d. 1544) of Kirby Wiske, who was a yeoman farmer and steward to Lord Scrope of Bolton...

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Ayton, William Alexander (1816–1909), Church of England clergyman and alchemist, was born on 28 April 1816 in the Bloomsbury district of London, the son of William Capon Ayton (1786-1843), solicitor, and his wife Mary Anne née Nicolson (1791-1921). He was educated at the ...

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Barclay, Oliver Rainsford (1919–2013), zoologist and evangelical society administrator, was born in Kobe, Japan, on 22 February 1919, the son of Joseph Gurney Barclay (1879–1976) and his second wife, Gwendoline Rose, née Watney (1885–1976). His family connections included prominent Quakers and Anglicans employed in banking and evangelical missions, notably the ...

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Barlow, William (1544–1625), Church of England clergyman and natural philosopher, was one of two sons and five daughters born to William Barlow (d. 1568), then bishop of St David's, and his wife, Agatha Wellesbourne (d. 1593), a former nun. His father's elder brother ...

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Barrett, Sir William Fletcher (1844–1925), physicist and psychical researcher, was born in Jamaica on 10 February 1844, the son of a Congregational minister, the Revd William Garland Barrett (1812–1865), missionary for the London Missionary Society, and his wife, Martha Barrett, née Fletcher (1811?–1893)...

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Isaac Barrow (1630–1677) by David Loggan, 1676 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barrow, Isaac (1630–1677), mathematician and theologian, was born in London in October 1630, the son of Thomas Barrow, from a Cambridgeshire family, and his wife, Anne Buggin. Following the death of his mother in 1634 Isaac was sent to his grandfather's house where he remained until his father, already becoming a successful linen draper, married ...

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Bassantin [Bassendyne], James (d. 1568), astronomer and astrologer, was the son of the laird of Bassendean in the Merse, Berwickshire, and was born in the reign of James IV (r. 1488–1513). He entered the University of Glasgow at an early age, and, after finishing his studies in the humanities, devoted himself to mathematics and its related sciences, in which he acquired remarkable proficiency. To improve further in these subjects he travelled in the ...

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Bayes, Thomas (1701?–1761), mathematician and Presbyterian minister, was probably born in Hertfordshire, the eldest in the family of four sons and three daughters of the Revd Joshua Bayes and his wife, Ann Carpenter. He entered Edinburgh University in 1719 and studied for three years, though without taking a degree. He was licensed to preach while in ...

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Beale, John (bap. 1608, d. 1683), Church of England clergyman and writer on agriculture and natural philosophy, was baptized at Yarkhill, Herefordshire, on 17 April 1608, the sixth and youngest son of Thomas Beale (1575–1620), a lawyer and prominent gentleman farmer, and his wife, ...

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Beckett, Edmund [formerly Edmund Beckett Denison], first Baron Grimthorpe (1816–1905), ecclesiastical controversialist, architect, and horologist, was born at Carlton Hall, near Newark, on 12 May 1816, the eldest son of Sir Edmund Beckett, fourth baronet (1787–1874), later MP for the West Riding...

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Edmund Beckett, first Baron Grimthorpe (1816–1905) by unknown photographer by courtesy of the British Horological Institute Limited; original on display at the Upton Hall Time Museum, Upton, Newark, Nottinghamshire; photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Patrick Bell (1799–1869) by unknown engraver, pubd 1868 (after E. Strachan) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bell, Patrick (1799–1869), Church of Scotland minister and inventor of agricultural machinery, was born in April 1799 at mid-Leoch, in the parish of Auchterhouse, a few miles north-west of Dundee. He was one of at least two sons of George Bell, a tenant farmer at ...

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Bennet, Abraham (bap. 1749, d. 1799), Church of England clergyman and natural philosopher, was baptized in Taxal, Cheshire, on 20 December 1749, the son of Abraham Bennet, schoolmaster, of Whaley Lane, Cheshire, and his wife, Ann Fallowes of Cheadle. He appears to have been the eldest child, with at least one brother, ...