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Sir Robert Ayton (1570–1638) by Francesco Fanelli © Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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Ayton, Sir Robert (1570–1638), poet and courtier, was born at the castle of Kinaldie, near St Andrews, Fife, the second of four sons, to Andrew Ayton (d. 1589), landowner, and his wife, Mariona London or Lundie, daughter of the laird of Balgonie...

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Blount, William, fourth Baron Mountjoy (c. 1478–1534), courtier and literary patron, was born in the parish of Barton Blount, Derbyshire. His father, John Blount, third Baron Mountjoy [see under Blount, Walter, first Baron Mountjoy], died in 1485 and William succeeded to the title as a minor. His uncle ...

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Bulstrode, Cecily (bap. 1584, d. 1609), courtier and subject of poetry, was baptized on 12 February 1584 at Beaconsfield, one of the ten children of Edward Bulstrode (d. 1595), landowner, and his wife, Cecily (fl. 1575–1608), daughter of Sir John Croke...

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Clanvow, Sir John (c. 1341–1391), courtier and poet, was probably the son and heir of John Clanvow, a minor landowner in the Welsh borders. In his early years John the younger saw active service abroad. In 1364 he fought in Brittany, and he was with ...

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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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Dallington, Sir Robert (1561–1636x8), author and courtier, was born at Geddington, Northamptonshire. From about 1575 to about 1580 he was at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; there is no record of his graduation, but in 1601 he was incorporated at Oxford as MA of ...

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Sir John Denham (1614/1515–1669) by unknown artist, c. 1661 University of London Library, Sterling Library, Chesterfield Portraits

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Denham, Sir John (1614/15–1669), poet and courtier, was probably born in Dublin, the only son of Sir John Denham (1559–1639), judge, and his second wife, Eleanor (d. 1619), daughter of Gerald, or Garret, Moore, Baron Moore of Mellefont and first Viscount Drogheda...

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Dicconson, William (1654/5–1742), Jacobite courtier and biographer, eldest son of Hugh Dicconson (c.1621–1691) of Wrightington Hall near Wigan, and his wife, Agnes (d. 1719), third daughter of Roger Kirkby of Kirkby, came from a Lancashire Roman Catholic gentry family, which occasionally (as in the 1660s) conformed outwardly. He had three brothers (including the Catholic bishop ...

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Dunbar, William (1460?–1513x30), poet and courtier, is of obscure origins.

The birth date of 1460 normally assigned to Dunbar by critics and editors itself derives from a hypothesis. Among the lists of students preserved in the acta of St Andrews University for the later 1470s the name ...

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Dyer, Sir Edward (1543–1607), courtier and poet, was born in October 1543 at Weston, Somerset, the eldest son of Sir Thomas Dyer (d. 1565) and his first wife, Frances (née Darcy), widow of William Thornburgh. Wood states that Edward studied at either ...

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Eglinton, Sir Hugh (d. 1376), courtier and poet, came from Ayrshire. Little is known of his early life and career, but he was probably one of five men knighted by David II in 1342, before an ill-fated raid into England, where all five were captured. He was certainly back in ...

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Ferrers, George (c. 1510–1579), courtier and poet, was born about 1510 in St Albans, the first son of Thomas Ferrers of St Albans and his wife, Alice, the daughter of John Cockworthy of Cockworthy, Devon. He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn on 22 November 1534; he was a frequent litigant, and praised by ...

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Fowler, William (1560/61–1612), writer and courtier, was the son of Jane Fisher and William Fowler (d. 1572), a prominent Edinburgh burgess and treasurer of the French revenues of Mary, queen of Scots. Fowler's sister was the mother of the Scottish writer William Drummond...

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Godolphin, Sidney (bap. 1610, d. 1643), poet and courtier, was baptized on 15 January 1610 at Breage, Cornwall, the second of the four children of Sir William Godolphin (d. 1613) of Godolphin, Cornwall, and his wife, Thomasine (d. 1611/12), daughter and heir of ...

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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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William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke (1580–1630) by Sir Anthony Van Dyck Collection of the Earl of Pembroke and Trustees of Wilton House Trust, Wilton House, Salisbury, UK

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Herbert, William, third earl of Pembroke (1580–1630), courtier and patron of the arts, was the son of Henry Herbert, second earl of Pembroke (b. in or after 1538, d. 1601), and his third wife, Mary Sidney (1561–1621) [see Herbert, Mary, countess of Pembroke...