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George Clifford, third earl of Cumberland (1558–1605) by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1590 © National Maritime Museum, London

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Clifford, George, third earl of Cumberland (1558–1605), courtier and privateer, was born on 8 August 1558 in Brougham Castle, Westmorland, the eldest son of Henry Clifford, second earl of Cumberland (1517–1570), and his second wife, Anne (c.1538–1581), daughter of William, third Baron Dacre...

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Sir Robert Dudley (1574–1649) by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1591–3 National Museum of Fine Arts, Sweden

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Dudley, Sir Robert (1574–1649), mariner and landowner, was born at Sheen House, Richmond, Surrey, on 7 August 1574, the son of Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (1532/3–1588), and Douglas Sheffield (née Howard), Lady Sheffield (1542/3–1608). The status of his birth, which was to become the leading obsession of his life, is still debated, as are the circumstances of his early life, due in part to his own deliberate exaggerations and falsifications. Despite his mother's later claim that she refused to surrender him to ...

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Knyvet, Sir Thomas (c. 1485–1512), courtier and sea captain, was the eldest son of Edmund Knyvet of Hilborough, Norfolk (d. 1503/4), himself the eldest son of Sir William Knyvet of Buckenham, Norfolk (c.1448–1515). Thomas's mother was Edmund's wife, Eleanor (...

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Michelstow family (per. c. 1350–c. 1454), gentry and shipmen, probably originated from a settlement now named Mixtow, just across the estuary from Fowey, on the south coast of Cornwall, but by 1350 had settled in the latter port, where for a century they were regarded as the town's greatest family. The spelling of their name caused perplexity to generations of clerks and scriveners, and the form employed here is only one of many found in contemporary sources....

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O'Malley, Gráinne [Grace] (fl. 1577–1597), chieftain's wife and pirate, was the daughter of Owen Dubhdara O'Malley, chief, lord of Umhall Uachtarach or Upper Owle in the barony of Murrisk, co. Mayo, and his wife, Margaret, daughter of Conchobhar Óg Mac Conchobhair O'Malley of ...

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Senhouse, Humphrey (1705–1770), landowner and port founder, was born on 2 July 1705 at Millom Castle, Cumberland, the fourth child of Humphrey Senhouse (d. 1738) and his wife, Eleanor, daughter of William Kirkby of Ashlack, Lancashire. Humphrey Senhouse senior was a scion of an old gentry family in ...