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Abercromby, David (d. 1701?), physician and philosopher, most probably belonged to the Abercrombys of Seaton in the north-east of Scotland where he is believed to have been born. It is not known if Abercromby married or had children, although what survives of his biography makes marriage unlikely. Nothing is known of his parentage....

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Achilli, (Giovanni) Giacinto (b. c. 1803), Dominican priest, anti-Catholic polemicist, and seducer, was born in the village of Celleno, 18 miles from Viterbo, then in the Papal States. He joined the Dominican order in 1819, studied at the convent of the Minerva in ...

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(Giovanni) Giacinto Achilli (b. c. 1803) by unknown engraver, pubd 1850 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aconcio, Jacopo [Jacobus Acontius] (c. 1520–1566/7?), theologian and military engineer, was perhaps born at Ossana, in the Val di Sole, not far from Trento in Italy, the son of Gerolamo Aconcio and his wife, Oliana. After studying law Aconcio was admitted to the ...

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À Lasco [Laski], John (1499–1560), evangelical reformer, was born in Lask, Poland, the second of three sons and brother to four daughters of Jarslov Laski (d. 1521?), voivode of Sieradz, and Susanna Bak (fl. 1484–1510), daughter of the Bakova-Gora councilman Zbigniew Bak...

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Anderson [alias Munson], Lionel [name in religion Albert] (c. 1633–1710), Dominican friar, was born in Lincolnshire, the son of William Anderson of Castlethorpe and his wife, Jane Johnson. He was received into the Roman Catholic church in Lisbon, and made his way to ...

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Askew [married name Kyme], Anne (c. 1521–1546), writer and protestant martyr, was probably born at her family home in Stallingborough, near Grimsby in Lincolnshire, the second daughter of Sir William Askew (1489–1541) and his first wife, Elizabeth Wrottesley. She had two brothers, ...

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Atkins, Richard (1559?–1581), protestant martyr, was the son of William Atkins and a native of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. In early summer 1581 he arrived in Rome. The anonymous Copie of a Double Letter (1582?), probably by the Jesuit Robert Persons from an eyewitness account, describes him as 'of no great yeres', a 'nailesmithe' by trade, short, with auburn hair, a reddish beard, and hardened hands, unlettered except that he could rudely write his name and read 'a litle new testament tourned out of Beza his latin' into English. The ...

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Baggs, Charles Michael (1806–1845), college head and vicar apostolic of the western district, was born at Belville, in co. Meath, Ireland, on 21 May 1806. He was the eldest son of a protestant barrister of Dublin, Charles Baggs, afterwards judge of the court of vice-admiralty in ...

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Baillie, Alexander (c. 1590–1655), abbot of Regensburg, of the family of Carnbroe, Lanarkshire, went to school in Scotland, then in August 1612 was enrolled at the protestant University of Helmstedt. Having become a Catholic he entered the Scots College, Rome, that same year. He is said to have also studied at ...

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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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Balme, David Mowbray (1912–1989), university administrator and classical scholar, was born on 8 September 1912 at Carlisle, eldest of the four children of Harold Balme (1878–1953), a surgeon, and his wife, Hilda Carr (d. 1968). He spent his first ten years in ...

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Barclay, Alexander (c. 1484–1552), poet and clergyman, was born at a place and date that are still obscure. John Bale, in the mid-sixteenth century, described him once as 'English', once as 'Scottish', and stated on a third occasion that 'some contend that he was a Scot, others an Englishman' (...

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Barclay, Robert, of Ury (1648–1690), religious writer and colonial governor, was born at Gordonstown, Moray, on 23 December 1648, the eldest of the five children of David Barclay of Ury (1610–1686), soldier and politician, and Katherine Gordon (1620–1663), daughter of Sir Robert Gordon...

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Barlowe, Jerome (fl. 1528–1529), Franciscan friar and writer, is an obscure figure. The one incontrovertible record of Barlowe is that he was sighted on the road north from Attleborough to Bishop's Lynn in June 1529. Cardinal Wolsey's agents exacted this information as they made enquiries in ...

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Baynes, Roger (1546–1623), author and administrator, was the son of Hugh Baynes of Shrewsbury. In his will he mentions a brother who married in Spain and two brothers living in England. He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 24 November 1565. There is no record of his call but after becoming a Roman Catholic he left ...

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Bilney, Thomas (c. 1495–1531), evangelical reformer and martyr, known as Little Bilney on account of his short stature, was born in Norfolk, most likely at Norwich. Of his parents nothing is known, except that they survived him. Sent up to Cambridge at an early age (...

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Biondi, Sir Giovanni Francesco (1572–1644), diplomat and romance writer, was born at Lesina (now Hvar), Croatia. His family, whose surname was Biundović until the 1600s, was noble but of modest means. Giovanni took a law degree at Padua and, after a period in ...

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Bishop, William (c. 1554–1624), Roman Catholic bishop, was born at Brailes, Warwickshire, the eldest son of John Bishop (c.1509–1601) and Helen Onsley (d. 1588). His family was armigerous and came originally from Yorkshire; they remained on the same estate at ...

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William Bishop (c. 1554–1624) by unknown artist Archbishop's House, Westminster; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London