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Allin, John (1623–1683), nonconformist minister and alchemist, was born on 13 October 1623 in Wrentham, Suffolk, the son of the Revd John Allen, or Allin (c. 1596–1671), and his first wife, Margaret, née Morse (c.1598–1653). At the time of Allin's birth his father was the curate in ...

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Anderson, William (c. 1748–1778), surgeon and naturalist, was born in Scotland, probably in the area of North Berwick, Haddingtonshire. Nothing is known of his immediate family other than the existence of two sisters, Beth and Rabinah. He was educated at Edinburgh University, enrolling as an anatomy student for the year 1762–3. At his examination for the navy on 1 December 1768 he qualified as surgeon's first mate and on 1 November 1770 he was advanced to surgeon of a first-rate ship, subsequently serving in the ...

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Angwin, Sir (Arthur) Stanley (1883–1959), electrical engineer, was born in Penzance on 11 December 1883, the son of the Revd George William Angwin, a nonconformist minister, and his wife, Lucinda Cambellock. A change of circuit brought the family nearer London, and Angwin went to school in ...

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Sir Richard Arkwright (1732–1792) by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1789–90 private collection; photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Arkwright, Sir Richard (1732–1792), inventor of cotton-spinning machinery and cotton manufacturer, was born on 23 December 1732 at Preston, Lancashire, the sixth of the seven children of Thomas Arkwright (1691–1753), a tailor, and his wife, Ellen Hodgkinson (1693–1778). The family was rooted in ...

Article

A. M. Clerke

revised by Anita McConnell

Aubert, Alexander (bap. 1730, d. 1805), merchant and astronomer, was born at Austin Friars, London, and baptized on 11 May 1730 at St Peter-le-Poer, Old Broad Street, London, the second of seven children and eldest of the four sons of Claude Aubert (1692–1774)...

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Bader, Ernest (1890–1982), chemical manufacturer and industrial reformer, was born in Regensdorf, Switzerland, on 24 November 1890, the youngest of thirteen children of a protestant farmer, Gottlieb Bader, and his wife, Barbara Meier. He was expelled from school at the age of twelve and went to work as a menial in a ...

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H. M. Stephens

revised by James Falkner

Baker, Sir William Erskine (1808–1881), army officer and engineer, was the fourth son of Captain Joseph Baker RN, and was born on 29 November 1808 at Leith. He was educated at Ludlow and at Addiscombe College (1825–6), and after attending an extended engineering course while a cadet he went out to ...

Article

See Ball, Robert

Article

See Ball, Robert

Article

Helena C. G. Chesney

Ball, Robert (1802–1857), naturalist, was born at Cobh, co. Cork, on 1 April 1802, the elder son of Robert Stawell Ball (1768–1841), a customs official, and Mary, née Green, of Youghal. His younger sisters were Anne Elizabeth Ball and Mary Ball [see below...

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Bassantin [Bassendyne], James (d. 1568), astronomer and astrologer, was the son of the laird of Bassendean in the Merse, Berwickshire, and was born in the reign of James IV (r. 1488–1513). He entered the University of Glasgow at an early age, and, after finishing his studies in the humanities, devoted himself to mathematics and its related sciences, in which he acquired remarkable proficiency. To improve further in these subjects he travelled in the ...

Article

J. K. Laughton

revised by Andrew Lambert

Belcher, Sir Edward (1799–1877), naval officer and hydrographer, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 27 February 1799, the second son of Andrew Belcher (1763–1841), a merchant in Nova Scotia who moved to England in 1811 and settled at Roehampton, Surrey, and his wife, ...

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Bell, John Stewart (1928–1990), theoretical physicist, was born into a protestant working-class family in Belfast on 28 July 1928, the eldest of three sons and second of four children of John Bell. The latter worked as a horse dealer, but his health was poor and after army service he had no real job, and his wife, ...

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Bentinck, John Albert (1737–1775), naval officer and inventor of mechanical devices, was born on 29 December 1737, the second son of William, Count Bentinck (1704–1774) and Countess Charlotte Sophie of Aldenburg (1715–1800), and grandson of Hans Willem Bentinck, first earl of Portland. His parents separated when he was about a year old and he never knew his mother. He went to sea at the age of fourteen in the ...

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John Albert Bentinck (1737–1775) by Mason Chamberlin, 1775 [left, with his son William Bentinck] © National Maritime Museum, London

Article

G. S. Boulger

revised by J. K. Crellin

Bentley, Robert (1821–1893), botanist and pharmacognosist, was born at Hitchin, Hertfordshire, on 25 March 1821, the son of William Bentley, solicitor, and his wife, Jane. He was apprenticed to William Maddock, a druggist at Tunbridge Wells, where he began the study of botany. He then became assistant to the chemists ...

Article

Black, Joseph (1728–1799), chemist and physician, was born on 16 April 1728 in Bordeaux, the sixth of twelve children of John Black, an Ulsterman who was a factor in the wine trade, and his wife, Margaret Gordon (d. 1747). Black's brothers all became manufacturers or tradesmen of various kinds and all were unsuccessful in business. ...

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Joseph Black (1728–1799) by Sir Henry Raeburn, c. 1790 © Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

Article

Blomfild [Blomefield], William (fl. 1529–1574), alchemist and priest, was born in Bury St Edmunds. He was a Benedictine monk and priest at Bury in his youth. In 1529 he was questioned at London regarding certain protestant tenets (which he abjured) although he seems later in life to have gravitated towards Calvinism. In 1543, at which time he was living in ...