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Alexander, Sir Kenneth John Wilson [Ken] (1922–2001), economist, university administrator, and public servant, was born on 14 March 1922 at 12 Kilmaurs Terrace, Edinburgh, the only son of William Wilson Alexander (1888–1930), lawyer, and his wife, Mary Logan Grahame, née Wilson (1888–1975), tailoress. He won a scholarship to ...

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(Reginald) Clifford Allen, Baron Allen of Hurtwood (1889–1939) by Elliott & Fry © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Allen, (Reginald) Clifford, Baron Allen of Hurtwood (1889–1939), politician and peace campaigner, was born at St Olave's, Slow Park, Newport, Monmouthshire, on 9 May 1889. As an adult he was always known as Clifford Allen, or by close friends as CA. He had a brother, ...

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Anderson, William Crawford (1877–1919), politician, was born on 13 February 1877 at Findon, Banffshire, Scotland, the son of Francis Anderson, a blacksmith, and Barbara (née Cruikshank), who were married in 1868. His mother was an intelligent and widely read woman of strong, radical, Presbyterian views who encouraged ...

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Anstey, Francis George [Frank] (1865–1940), politician and author, was born on 18 August 1865 in York Road Hospital, Lambeth, London, the only son of the recently deceased Samuel Anstey (1837/8–1865), master shoemaker, and his wife, Caroline Martha (1840?–1922), daughter of Francis Gamble, distillery foreman. ...

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William Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Sanderstead (1915–1980) by Arnold Newman, 1978 Arnold Newman / Getty Images; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Armstrong, William, Baron Armstrong of Sanderstead (1915–1980), civil servant and banker, was born in the Salvation Mothers' Home, Mare Street, Clapton, London, on 3 March 1915, the elder son of William Armstrong, of Stirling, and his wife, Priscilla Hopkins. Both his parents were ...

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Ashurst, William Henry [pseud. Edward Search] (bap. 1791?, d. 1855), lawyer and radical, was born in London, and was probably the William Henry Ashurst baptized on 20 March 1791 at St Luke's, Old Street, the son of Brusel Ashurst and his wife, ...

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Auld [née Jardine; other married name Marshall], Mary (1893–1984), local politician and women's organizer, was born on 8 July 1893 in Main Street, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, the fourth child of seven born to Francis Jardine, clog maker, and his wife, Agnes Wallace. She attended ...

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Aveling, Edward Bibbens (1849–1898), Marxist campaigner, was born on 29 November 1849 at 6 Nelson Terrace, Stoke Newington, the fifth of eight children of Thomas William Baxter Aveling (1815–1884), Congregationalist minister, and his wife, Mary Ann (d. 1877), daughter of Thomas Goodall...

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Awolowo, Obafemi (1909–1987), politician in Nigeria, was born on 6 March 1909 at Ikenne, a small town about 40 miles from Lagos, in Ijebu Remo division, the son of David Sopolu Awolowo (d. 1920) and his wife, Mary Sofowora Efunyela. The Ijebu are a subgroup of the ...

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Barker, Joseph (1806–1875), Methodist minister and politico-religious controversialist, was born on 11 May 1806 at Bramley, near Leeds. His ancestors, originally of Keighley, had been settled in this area for several generations as farmers and manufacturers. The identity of his parents has not been discovered, though it is known that his father was employed in woollen manufacture and served for some time in the militia, and that ...

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Maker: John Cochran

Joseph Barker (1806–1875) by John Cochran, pubd 1880 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barlow, Joel (1754–1812), poet and diplomatist, was born on 24 March 1754 at Redding, Connecticut, the fourth child of Samuel Barlow, farmer, and his second wife, Esther Hull. For several generations the Barlow family maintained a reputation as respectable farmers in America, and ...

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Bax, Ernest Belfort (1854–1926), Marxist theoretician and activist, was born at his parents' home, 27 Clarendon Square, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on 23 July 1854, the last of four children of Daniel Bax (d. 1882), a manufacturer, and his wife, Eleanor, daughter of ...

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Annie Besant (1847–1933) by Hayman Selig Mendelssohn © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Besant [née Wood], Annie (1847–1933), theosophist and politician in India, was born at 2 Fish Street Hill in the City of London on 1 October 1847, the only daughter of William Persse Wood (d. 1852), underwriter, and his wife, Emily Roche Morris (...

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Bevington [married name Guggenberger], Louisa Sarah (1845–1895), poet and anarchist, was born on 14 May 1845 in St John's Hill, Battersea, Surrey, to Louisa and Alexander Bevington. The eldest of eight children (seven of whom were girls), she was brought up a Quaker. An early enthusiasm for science was fostered by her father. Later, interested by evolutionism, she became a friend of ...

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Blackner, John (1770?–1816), radical and county historian, was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. He served an apprenticeship to a stocking maker in his native town, and there married Sarah, née Brown, sister of a 'respectable' farmer in Kirk Hallam, Derbyshire, with whom he had four sons and three daughters. Illiterate at the time of his marriage, he taught himself to read and write soon after moving to ...

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Eric Arthur Blair [George Orwell] (1903–1950) by Felix H. Man, c. 1947 © Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery, London