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(John) Thomas Baines (1820–1875) by unknown photographer, 1860s The Royal Geographical Society, London

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Baines, (John) Thomas (1820–1875), artist and explorer, was born on 27 November 1820 at King's Lynn, Norfolk, the second son and one of three surviving children of Mary Ann Watson and John Thomas Baines, a master mariner. His father and maternal grandfather were amateur artists, his brother ...

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Herbert Ernest Balch (1869–1958) by Harry Savory, 1912 Wells and Mendip Museum

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Balch, Herbert Ernest (1869–1958), cave explorer and museum curator, was born in St Thomas Street, Wells, Somerset, on 4 November 1869, the second of six children of William Balch, brushmaker, and his wife, Sarah Ellen, née Smith. Aged seven, he won a scholarship to ...

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Ronald Bayne

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Barker, Collet (1784–1831), army officer and explorer, was born near Paradise Gardens, Hackney, Middlesex, on 31 December 1784, the son of William Barker (c.1748–1832), skinner and mercer of Newbury, Berkshire, and Sarah Collet (1755–1808), elder daughter of Samuel Collet, of an established family of ...

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Sir John Barrow, first baronet (1764–1848) attrib. John Jackson, c. 1810 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barrow, Sir John, first baronet (1764–1848), promoter of exploration and author, was born on 19 June 1764 at Dragley Beck, Ulverston, Lancashire, the only child of Roger Barrow, journeyman tanner, and his wife, Mary. Educated at the local Town Bank grammar school, which he left at the age of thirteen, ...

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Bass, George (b. 1771, d. in or after 1803), explorer, was born in Aswarby, Lincolnshire, on 30 January 1771, the only child of George Bass (1739–1777), a tenant farmer, and his wife, Sarah, née Newman (1736–1828). Following his father's death George and his mother moved to ...

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Beechey, Henry William (1788/9–1862), painter and explorer, was born probably at 37 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London, the eldest son of the portrait painter Sir William Beechey (1753–1839) and his first wife. Nothing is known of his education. In August 1815 he became secretary to ...

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Best, George (c. 1555–1584), explorer, was the son of Robert Best and Anne Bowman, married at Merstham in 1548. He learned much about geography from his father who worked as an interpreter for the Muscovy Company in London, having escorted the first Russian ambassador to ...

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A. G. E. Jones

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Biscoe, John (bap. 1794, d. 1843), merchant navy officer and explorer, was baptized in Enfield on 28 June 1794, the third son and youngest child of Thomas Biscoe of Waltham Abbey and his wife, Ann Tibbs. Nothing is known of his early years, but on leaving school he became a clerk. On 11 March 1812 he volunteered for the ...

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Borough, Stephen (1525–1584), explorer and naval administrator, was born on 25 September 1525 at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon, the elder son of Walter Borough (1494–1548) and Mary Dough; his younger brother was William Borough (d. 1598).

With his uncle, John Borough (d. 1570)...

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Borough, William (bap. 1536, d. 1598), explorer and naval administrator, was born at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon, to Walter Borough (1494–1548) and Mary (née Dough) and baptized on 18 August 1536 in St Mary's, Northam. His childhood experiences included voyages made with his elder brother, ...

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Burnes, Sir Alexander (1805–1841), political officer in India and explorer, fourth of the five sons of James Burnes (1780–1852), provost of Montrose, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Adam Glegg, chief magistrate of Montrose, was born on 16 May 1805 in Montrose. James Burnes (1801–1862)...

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Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) by Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton, c. 1872–5 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Burton, Sir Richard Francis (1821–1890), explorer and author, was the son of Colonel Joseph Netterville Burton and Martha Beckwith, daughter and coheir of Richard Baker of Barham House, Hertfordshire. The eldest of three children, he was born on 19 March 1821 at Torquay...

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Cabot, Sebastian (c. 1481/2–1557), explorer and cartographer, was the son of the explorer and navigator John Cabot (c. 1451–1498) and his wife, Mattea.

Neither the place nor the date of Cabot's birth is entirely certain. His father appears to have been of Genoese origin, but was a citizen of ...

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Carteret, Philip (1733–1796), explorer, was born on 22 January 1733 at Trinity Manor, Jersey, the younger son of Charles de Carteret, seigneur of Trinity, and his wife, Françoise Marie St Paul. He had also a sister. In 1747 he left Jersey to begin his naval career, serving first as an officer's servant and from 1751 following ...

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Cavendish, Thomas (bap. 1560, d. 1592), explorer, was baptized on 19 September 1560 in St Martin's Church, Trimley St Martin, Suffolk, the third son of William Cavendish (d. 1572) of Grimston Hall, Trimley St Martin, and his wife, Mary Wentworth (d...

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James Chalmers (1841–1901) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London