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Bruce, Thomas, second earl of Ailesbury (1656–1741), nobleman and memoirist, was born on 26 September 1656, probably at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, the fifth but first surviving son of Robert Bruce, first earl of Ailesbury (bap. 1626, d. 1685), and his wife, Diana (d...

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William Byrd (1674–1744) attrib. Hans Hysing, c. 1725 The Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia

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Byrd, William (1674–1744), landowner and diarist, was born on 28 March 1674 near the fall line of the James River, Virginia, the first of five children of William Byrd (1652–1704), colonial officer and planter, and Mary Horsmanden Filmer (1650–1699), a well-connected widow and daughter of ...

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Clifford, Anne [known as Lady Anne Clifford], countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery (1590–1676), noblewoman and diarist, was born at Skipton Castle in Craven in the West Riding of Yorkshire on 30 January 1590, the only surviving child of George Clifford, third earl of Cumberland...

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Anne Clifford, countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery (1590–1676) by William Larkin, 1618 National Trust Photographic Library / Geoffrey Shakerley

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Mary Cowper, Countess Cowper (1685–1724) by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1709 private collection. Photograph: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

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Cowper [née Clavering], Mary, Countess Cowper (1685–1724), courtier and diarist, was the elder of the two surviving children of John Clavering (bap. 1655, d. in or after 1702), landowner and mine owner, of Chopwell, co. Durham, and his first wife, Anne Thompson...

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Davenport, William (bap. 1584, d. 1655), landowner and diarist, was baptized in Stockport, Cheshire, on 25 March 1584, the son and heir of Sir William Davenport (1563–1627) of Bramhall and Dorothy Warren (fl. 1566?–1615), the daughter of a neighbouring gentleman. William Davenport...

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Hamilton [married name Dickenson], Mary (1756–1816), courtier and diarist, was the only child of Charles Hamilton (1721–1771), soldier, son of Lord Archibald Hamilton and grandson of the third duke of Hamilton, and his wife, Mary Catherine (d. 1778), daughter of Colonel Dufresne...

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Edmund Lodge (1756–1839) by Lemuel Francis Abbott, c. 1790–95 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lodge, Edmund (1756–1839), herald and biographer, was born on 13 June 1756, in Poland Street, London, the only surviving son of the Revd Edmund Lodge (c.1729–1781), rector of Carshalton in Surrey, and his wife, Mary Garrard, the daughter and sole heir of ...

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Newdigate [née Fitton], Anne, Lady Newdigate (1574–1618), gentlewoman and letter writer, was born in October 1574 and baptized at Gawsworth, Cheshire, on 6 October, the elder daughter of Sir Edward Fitton (1548/9–1606) and his wife, Alice (d. 1627), daughter of Sir John Holcroft...

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Newdigate, John (1600–1642), gentleman and diarist, was born on 28 May 1600, the elder son and second child of John (later Sir John) Newdigate (1571–1610) [see under Newdigate, Anne], of Arbury, Warwickshire, and his wife, Anne Newdigate (1574–1618), daughter of Sir Edward Fitton (1548/9–1606)...

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Oxinden [Oxenden], Henry (1609–1670), gentleman and letter-writer, was born on 18 January 1609 at the house of Sir Adam Sprakeling in the parish of St Paul, Canterbury, the eldest son of Richard Oxinden (bap. 1588, d. 1629), gentleman, of Great Maydekin in the village of ...

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Elizabeth Percy, duchess of Northumberland and suo jure Baroness Percy (1716–1776) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1757–9 Collection of the Duke of Northumberland. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Percy, Elizabeth [née Lady Elizabeth Seymour], duchess of Northumberland and suo jure Baroness Percy (1716–1776), courtier and diarist, was born on 26 November 1716, the daughter of Algernon Seymour, earl of Hertford and later seventh duke of Somerset (1684–1750) [see under...