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Bates, Sir Percy Elly, fourth baronet (1879–1946), merchant and shipowner, was born at Beechenhurst, Wavertree, Liverpool, on 12 May 1879, the second of seven sons of Edward Percy Bates (1845–1899), who became second baronet, and his wife, Constance Elisabeth, daughter of Samuel Robert Graves...

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Sir Percy Elly Bates, fourth baronet (1879–1946) by George Charles Beresford, 1913 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Henry Bell (1767–1830) by James Tannock Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Bell, Henry (1767–1830), hotelier and developer of steam navigation, was born at Torphichen Mill, Linlithgowshire, on 7 April 1767, the fifth son of Patrick Bell and his wife, Margaret Easton. He was educated at the village school and then in Falkirk. Despite the reputation of Scottish schools, his education served him badly and for the rest of his life he was unable to spell and made many grammatical errors in his extensive correspondence. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed as a stonemason and then in 1783 as a millwright—two trades much in demand at a time when Scottish industry was growing rapidly. In 1786 he began work in the shipyard of ...

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See Bond, Martin

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Booth, Alfred (1834–1914), merchant and shipowner, was born on 3 September 1834 in Liverpool, the eldest son of Charles Booth (1799–1860) of the same city and Emily Fletcher (1803–1853). His father's family ran a corn-factoring business and his mother's side was descended from ...

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Butterworth, William (1769–1834), slave-ship sailor and engraver, was born on 2 October 1769 at 55 Kirkgate, Leeds, Yorkshire, the second of five children of the Leeds engraver and copperplate printer John Butterworth, who had set up in business in Leeds in 1758. William...

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William Butterworth (1769–1834) self-portrait, pubd 1823 © reserved

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Chance, Sir James Timmins, first baronet (1814–1902), glass manufacturer and lighthouse engineer, was born in Birmingham on 22 March 1814, the eldest of the six sons of William Chance (1788–1856), merchant and glass manufacturer, of Spring Grove, Birmingham, and his wife, Phoebe (...

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See Courten, Sir William

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Crab, John (c. 1280–c. 1352), pirate and merchant, was probably born in Muiden in Flanders. Active as a pirate from at least 1306, he was the most notorious of the Flemish privateers who preyed on English shipping during the Scottish War of Independence. His nephew ...

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Croft, Thomas (c. 1435–1488), customs official, shipowner, and patron of Atlantic exploration, was the son of William Croft (d. 1439) of Croft Castle, Herefordshire, and Isabella, presumably a second wife. He was born during the 1430s, the youngest of four brothers, including ...

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Crow, Hugh (1765–1829), privateer and slave trader, was born in Ramsey, Isle of Man, the son of Edmund Crow (1730–1809), a tradesman, and his wife, Judith (1737–1807). He lost his right eye in infancy, but despite this was apprenticed to a boat builder in ...

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Dash, Jack O'Brien (1907–1989), political activist and unofficial dockers' leader, was born on 23 April 1907 in Southwark, south London, the youngest of four sons of Joseph Thomas Dash, a stagehand, and his wife, Rose Gertrude Johns, an actor. According to Dash's own account, his upbringing was one of great material hardship. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was seven and his father, who then had an even greater struggle to support the family, also died of a lung complaint a few years later. After an elementary schooling, his skill at drawing led to a trial period with an engraving firm, but pressure to take home a better wage resulted in a series of menial jobs, starting in a ...

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Dawes, Sir Edwyn Sandys (1838–1903), merchant and shipowner, was born at Dilhorne, Staffordshire, on 27 January 1838, the second son of the Revd Charles Thomas Dawes (1793–1863) and his wife, Mary Henrietta (1804–1875), daughter of Captain Henry Sherwood, army officer, and Mrs Mary Martha Sherwood (1775–1851)...

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Francis Egerton, third duke of Bridgewater (1736–1803) by Peter Rouw, 1803 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Egerton, Francis, third duke of Bridgewater (1736–1803), canal promoter and colliery owner, was born on 21 May 1736 and baptized the following month at St James's, Piccadilly, London. He was the youngest of eleven children of Scroop Egerton, first duke of Bridgewater (1681–1745)...

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Eldred, Thomas (1561–1624), mariner and merchant, was born in Brook Street, St Mary Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk, on 24 October 1561 and was baptized at St Mary Quay Church on 8 November following. He was the second, and eldest surviving, of the six sons of ...

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Fenner, George (c. 1540–1618), merchant and privateer, is of unknown parentage. However, the name Fenner was common in west Sussex, and the family into which he was born has been described variously as a mercantile clan in Chichester itself, or as a minor but armigerous gentry family based at ...

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Furness, Christopher, first Baron Furness (1852–1912), shipowner and industrialist, was born on 23 April 1852 at West Hartlepool, the seventh son of John Furness (1808–1885), provision merchant, and his wife, Averill, daughter of John Wilson of Naisbet Hall, co. Durham. John Furness worked as a coal trimmer on the local railway line until 1850 when he founded a grocery and provisioning business in ...