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Aske, Robert (1619–1689), silk merchant and benefactor, was born on 24 February 1619, the son of Robert Aske of the parish of St Mary Woolchurch, London, and his second wife, Margery Middleton, the widowed daughter of John Hill of Wendover, whom he married in 1611. The two ...

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Alice Barnham (1523–1604) by unknown artist, c. 1557 [Alice Barnham and her sons Martin and Steven] Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum, photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

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Barnham [née Bradbridge], Alice (1523–1604), silkwoman and benefactor, was born on 7 September 1523 at Chichester, Sussex, one of the youngest of the fourteen children of William Bradbridge (d. 1546), a successful and prosperous mercer, and his wife, Alice. Alice Barnham...

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Baxter, Sir David, baronet (bap. 1793, d. 1872), linen manufacturer and benefactor, was born in Dundee and baptized there on 24 March 1793, the second son of William Baxter (1767–1854), linen merchant, of Balgavies, and his wife, Elisabeth (Betty) Gorell (d. 1804)...

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Thomas Coats (1809–1883) by Sir Daniel Macnee, 1881 Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire Council

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Coats, Thomas (1809–1883), thread manufacturer and benefactor, was born at Ferguslie, Paisley, Renfrewshire, on 18 October 1809, the fourth of at least six sons of James Coats (1774–1857), one of the founders of the Paisley thread industry, and Catherine Mitchell (d. 1857)...

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Collier [Collyer], Richard (1480x85?–1533), mercer and benefactor, was born at Horsham, Sussex. The identity of his parents is unknown. He was closely related to the Caryll family of the neighbouring parish of Warnham, but the precise nature of that kinship remains unclear....

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Cooke, John (d. 1528), mercer and benefactor, was born in Minsterworth, a few miles west of Gloucester, the son of Thomas and Alice Cooke. The loss of Gloucester's early civic records means that little can be said of his career there, except that he prospered greatly in the town. He served as sheriff—the equivalent of bailiff—in 1494 and 1498, and became an alderman in 1501, the year in which he was first chosen to be mayor; he was elected again in 1507, 1512, and 1519. In June of 1513 he was involved, as mayor, in a dispute over common rights with the abbot of ...

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Sir James Roberts, first baronet (1848–1935) by unknown artist, 1920s © by kind permission of the Roberts Family / Kilnsey Estate

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Roberts, Sir James, first baronet (1848–1935), mill owner and benefactor, was born on 30 September 1848 at Lane Ends, Oakworth, near Haworth, Yorkshire, the ninth of the eleven children (five sons and six daughters) of James Roberts (1807–1888), wool weaver and later farmer, from ...

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Roysse, John (1500/01–1571), mercer and benefactor, was born in either 1500 or 1501, possibly on 31 January, and brought up in Abingdon, Berkshire. Nothing is known for certain about his father and mother, but the family name is recorded in sixteenth-century sources in ...