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Balfour [née Lytton], Elizabeth Edith [Betty], countess of Balfour (1867–1942), social hostess and biographer, was born on 12 June 1867 at Hyde Park Gate, London, the eldest of the five surviving children of Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, first earl of Lytton (1831–1891), viceroy, diplomat, and poet, and his wife, ...

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Margaret Cavendish Bentinck [Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785) by Joseph Brown, pubd 1861 (after Christian Friedrich Zincke, 1738) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bentinck, Margaret Cavendish [née Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785), collector of art and natural history specimens and patron of arts and sciences, was born on 11 February 1715 in London, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, later second earl of Oxford...

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Blewitt, (John) Octavian (1810–1884), writer and literary administrator, was born on 3 October 1810 at St Helen's Place, Bishopsgate, London, the son of John Edwards Blewitt (d. 1860), merchant, and Caroline, daughter of Peter Symons, mayor of Plymouth. Much of his childhood was spent in ...

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Bodenham [Bodnam], John (c. 1559–1610), literary patron and grocer, was born in London, perhaps in the parish of St Stephen Walbrook. He was the eldest son in a family of five children of William Bodnam (d. 1580), grocer, and his wife, Katherine Wanton (...

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Boscawen [née Glanville], Frances Evelyn [Fanny] (1719–1805), letter writer and literary hostess, was born at St Clere, near Wrotham in Kent, on 23 July 1719, only child of William Evelyn, MP and high sheriff of Kent, and his wife, Frances Glanville (1696/7–1719)...

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Mary Boyle, countess of Cork and Orrery (1746–1840) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, c. 1777–8 © Tate, London, 2004

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Boyle [née Monckton], Mary [Maria], countess of Cork and Orrery (1746–1840), literary hostess, was born on 21 May 1746, the youngest child and only surviving daughter of John Monckton, first Viscount Galway (1695–1751) and his second wife, Jane (d. 1788), fourth daughter of ...

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Brookfield [née Elton], Jane Octavia (1821–1896), literary hostess and writer, was born on 25 March 1821, at Clifton, near Bristol, the youngest of the eight daughters (there were also five sons) of Sir Charles Abraham Elton, sixth baronet (1778–1853), of Clevedon Court...

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See Bunsen, Christian Karl Josias von, Baron von Bunsen in the Prussian nobility

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Jane Burdett, Lady Burdett (d. 1637) by unknown artist, c. 1620 [with her husband, Sir Thomas Burdett, first baronet, and family] unknown collection; photograph Sotheby's Picture Library, London / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Burdett [née Francis], Jane, Lady Burdett (d. 1637), literary patron, was the only daughter and heir of William Francis of Foremark, near Repton, Derbyshire, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Francis of Ticknall. Details of her early life are unknown. In 1602 she married ...

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Carey [Carew], Elizabeth, Lady Hunsdon [née Elizabeth Spencer; other married name Elizabeth Eure, Lady Eure] (1552–1618), literary patron, was born on 29 June 1552 at Althorp, Northamptonshire, the sixth child of thirteen born to Sir John Spencer (d. 1586), of Wormleighton...

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Elizabeth Christiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1787 Chatsworth House. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Cavendish [née Hervey; other married name Foster], Elizabeth Christiana, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824), society hostess and patron of the arts, was the middle daughter of Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth earl of Bristol (1730–1803), and his wife, Elizabeth Davers (1730–1800), and was known for most her life as ...

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William Cavendish, first duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676) by Abraham van Diepenbeck [with Bolsover Castle in the background] © Copyright The British Museum

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Cavendish, William, first duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676), writer, patron, and royalist army officer, was born at Handsworth Manor, Yorkshire, and was baptized in the parish on 16 December 1593. He was the second of three children, the first having died in infancy, of ...

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Mary Constance Charteris, countess of Wemyss (1862–1937) by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1886 in a private Scottish collection; photograph courtesy the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Charteris [née Wyndham], Mary Constance, countess of Wemyss (1862–1937), hostess, was born on 3 August 1862 at 44 Belgrave Square, London, the eldest of the five children of the Hon. Percy Wyndham (1835–1911), second son of the first Lord Leconfield, and his wife, ...

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Colefax [née Halsey], Sibyl Sophie Julia, Lady Colefax (1874–1950), hostess and interior decorator, was born on 4 December 1874, at The Poplars, Wimbledon Common, Surrey (the house of her uncle, Walter Bagehot). She was the third but only surviving daughter (and fifth and last child) of ...