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Appleby, Sir William (1732–1796), eccentric and municipal reformer, was born at Durham on 15 September 1732, the third surviving son of Edward Appleby (1702–1736), a grocer, who was said to have introduced the bleaching of linen cloth from Ireland to Durham, and his wife, ...

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Dame Fanny Lucy Houston (1857–1936) by Bassano, c. 1909–10 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Houston, Dame Fanny Lucy (1857–1936), adventuress, was born on 8 April 1857 at Kennington, fourth daughter of Thomas Radmall, box-maker, and his wife, Maria Isabella Clarke. A juvenile actress known as Poppy Radmall, she eloped at the age of sixteen to Paris with the brewer ...

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Mary Isabella Manners, duchess of Rutland (1756–1831) by Valentine Green, pubd 1780 (after Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1780) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Manners [née Somerset], Mary Isabella, duchess of Rutland (1756–1831), politician and society hostess, was born on 1 August 1756, the fifth and youngest daughter of Charles Noel Somerset, fourth duke of Beaufort (1709–1756) [see under Somerset, Henry, second duke of Beaufort...

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Parsons, Anne [Nancy] [married name Anne Maynard, Viscountess Maynard] (c. 1735–1814/15), courtesan and political mistress, was said to have been the daughter of a Bond Street tailor. Her date of birth has not been ascertained, and estimates of her age in later life, being subject to a type of salacious exaggeration, yield only a roughly approximate year....

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Staël von Holstein, (Anne-Louise) Germaine [née (Anne-Louise) Germaine Necker; known as Germaine de Staël], Baroness Staël von Holstein in the Swedish nobility (1766–1817), writer and salon leader, was born on 22 April 1766 in rue de Cléry, Paris, France, the only child of ...

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Stanhope [née Forester], Anne Elizabeth, countess of Chesterfield (1802–1885), political confidante, second child and eldest daughter of Cecil Forester (later Weld-Forester), first Baron Forester (1767–1828), and his wife, Lady Katherine Manners (1779–1829), second daughter of the fourth duke of Rutland, was born on 7 September 1802. Her father, who inherited ...

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(Beatrice) Venetia Stanley (1887–1948) by unknown photographer, c. 1914 © reserved

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Stanley [married name Montagu], (Beatrice) Venetia (1887–1948), prime minister's confidante, was born at Easthorpe, Malton, North Riding of Yorkshire, on 22 August 1887, the youngest of the seven children to survive to adulthood of Edward Lyulph Stanley (1839–1925), educationist, who succeeded as ...

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Mary Catherine Stanley, countess of Derby (1824–1900) by James Rannie Swinton, 1850 The Marquess of Salisbury. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Stanley [née Sackville-West], Mary Catherine, countess of Derby [other married name Mary Catherine Gascoyne-Cecil, marchioness of Salisbury] (1824–1900), grande dame and politician manqué, was born, probably at Bourn, Cambridgeshire, on 23 July 1824, sixth of the nine children of George Sackville-West, ...

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Vere, John de, sixteenth earl of Oxford (1516–1562), magnate and rake, was the eldest of four sons (there were also four daughters) of John de Vere fifteenth earl of Oxford (1482–1540), and his second wife, Elizabeth Trussell (b. 1496, d...

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Willyams, Sarah Brydges [née Sarah Mendez da Costa] (d. 1863), heiress and benefactor of Benjamin Disraeli, was the younger daughter of Abraham Mendez da Costa (d. 1782), of Bath, and his wife, Elizabeth Leigh, whom he married in 1775. Sarah was descended from a line of Peninsular–English Jews via ...