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Allen, Ethan (1738–1789), revolutionary army officer and politician in America, was born on 10 January 1738 in Litchfield, Connecticut, the eldest of the seven children of Joseph Allen (1708–1755) and Mary Baker (1708–1774), farmers. The Allen family lived in what was then a frontier region of ...

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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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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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Collet Dobson Collet (1812–1898) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Collet, Collet Dobson (1812–1898), radical and tax reformer, was born on 31 December 1812 in London. He was the eldest son of John Dobson (1778–1827), a London merchant, and his wife (and first cousin), Elizabeth Barker (1787–1875). Collet assumed the name of his maternal grandparents, as did his sister, ...

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Deroin, Jeanne (1805–1894), suffragist and socialist, was born in Paris on 31 December 1805. A seamstress with little formal schooling, in 1831 she was introduced to the Saint-Simonian sect by her future husband, Antoine Ulysse Desroches, the bursar of an old people's home. All acolytes were required to sign a statement of their beliefs and most wrote a fairly standard single sentence. ...

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Detrosier, Rowland [formerly Rowley Barnes] (1800?–1834), freethinking radical and popular lecturer, was born in London, the son of a Manchester merchant, Robert Norris, and a Frenchwoman named Detrosier. His parents abandoned him soon after his birth and he was adopted by a Swedenborgian tailor from ...

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Fox, Henry, first Baron Holland of Foxley (1705–1774), politician, was born on 28 September 1705 at Chiswick, the second son of Sir Stephen Fox (1627–1716), financier, and Christian (1679–1719), daughter of the Revd Francis Hope, rector of Haceby, and afterwards of Aswarby, Lincolnshire...

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Henry Fox, first Baron Holland of Foxley (1705–1774) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1763–4 private collection; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Gast, John (c. 1772–1837), trade unionist and radical, was born in Bristol, the son of Robert Gast, a seller of milk. He had at least two brothers, and at some time married Elizabeth, who outlived him, but nothing else is known of his family. Soon after finishing his apprenticeship he left ...

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Harnett, Cornelius (1723–1781), merchant and revolutionary politician in America, was born on 20 April 1723 in Chowan county, North Carolina, the son of Cornelius (d. 1742), colonial official, planter, and tavern-keeper, and Elizabeth Harnett. With his family Harnett moved in 1726 to ...

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Johnson, Richard (1753–1807), East India Company servant and collector of oriental art and manuscripts, was born on 16 November 1753, the third son of Alexander Johnson MD (bap. 1716, d. 1799), lawyer, and of his wife, Mary Pellins (b. 1720, d. in or after 1800)...

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Maker: unknown photographer

Sir Seretse Khama (1921–1980) by unknown photographer, c. 1970 Getty Images

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Khama, Sir Seretse (1921–1980), president of Botswana, was born on 1 July 1921 in the royal household at Serowe in the Bechuanaland protectorate, the son of Sekgoma Khama (c.1864–1925) and his wife, Tebogo Kabailele (c.1900–1930). He was named Seretse...

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Leslie, Alexander (fl. 1796–1798), radical bookseller and publisher, was born in Jedburgh, moving to Edinburgh some time before 1796. Before becoming Bookseller to the Rabble, as he liked to describe himself, he was apprenticed in Edinburgh, possibly to one Andrew Leslie, shoemaker. Leslie...

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William Lovett (1800–1877) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lovett, William (1800–1877), Chartist and radical, was born in Newlyn, Cornwall, on 8 May 1800, the son of William Lovett, captain of a small trading vessel and a native of Hull, who was drowned before Lovett's birth. His mother, Kezia (née Green) (...

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James Maitland, eighth earl of Lauderdale (1759–1839) by Thomas Phillips, 1806 Scottish National Portrait Gallery