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Alexander, Horace Gundry (1889–1989), Quaker envoy and mediator, was born on 18 April 1889 at Croydon, Surrey, the youngest of four sons of Joseph Gundry Alexander (1848–1918), a Quaker barrister and advocate of international arbitration, and of Josephine Crosfield Alexander. He was educated at ...

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Barlow, Sir Thomas, first baronet (1845–1945), physician, was born at Brantwood Fold, Edgworth, near Bolton, Lancashire, on 4 September 1845; he was the eldest of seven children of James Barlow (1821–1887) of Greenthorne, Edgworth, who established the cotton mills of Barlow and Jones...

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Bentinck, (William) John Cavendish-Scott- [formerly Lord John Bentinck], fifth duke of Portland (1800–1879), recluse, son of William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, fourth duke (1768–1854), who in 1795 assumed the additional surname of Scott by royal licence, and Henrietta (d. 1844), eldest daughter and coheir of ...

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Billing, Noel Pemberton (1881–1948), aviator and self-publicist, was born on 31 January 1881 in Hampstead, the youngest child of Charles Eardley Billing, a Birmingham iron-founder, and his wife, Annie Emilia Claridge. He was educated at the high school, Hampstead; Cumming's College, outside Boulogne...

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Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen (1840–1922), hedonist, poet, and breeder of Arab horses, was born at Petworth House, Sussex, on 17 August 1840, the second son of the three children of Francis Scawen Blunt (1790–1842) of Crabbet Park, Poundhill, and Newbuildings Place, Southwater, Sussex, and his wife, ...

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Boulton, (Thomas) Ernest (1847–1904), transvestite, was born at Kings Road, Tottenham, London, on 18 December 1847, the elder of two sons of Thomas Alfred Boulton (1816/17–1887), wine merchant, and his wife, Mary Ann, née Levick (b. 1822/3). From his sixth year he showed an aptitude for playing female characters. He would dress as a parlourmaid, and once waited at table upon his grandmother, who said when he left the room, '...

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Brockway, (Archibald) Fenner, Baron Brockway (1888–1988), politician and campaigner, was born on 1 November 1888 in Calcutta, the only son and eldest of three children of the Revd William George Brockway, London Missionary Society missionary, and his wife, Frances Elizabeth, daughter of William Abbey...

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Brummell, George Bryan [known as Beau Brummell] (1778–1840), dandy and socialite, was born on 7 June 1778 in Downing Street, Westminster, the last of three children of William (Billy) Brummell (d. 1794), private secretary to the prime minister, Lord North, and his wife, ...

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Buchinger, Matthias [Matthew] (1674–1739), artist, was born on 2 June 1674 at Ansbach, near Nuremberg; details of his parents are unknown. He was born without hands, feet, lower legs, or thighs and in his life never grew taller than 29 inches. Although such symptoms might today be diagnosed as phocomelia, his impairments were attributed at the time to a fright suffered by his mother during pregnancy. He was the youngest of nine children and, according to a biography published in the ...

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Bull, John (supp. fl. 1712–), fictitious epitomist of Englishness and British imperialism, first appeared in print in The History of John Bull, a political allegory—sometimes wrongly attributed to Jonathan Swift, but now accepted as the work of John Arbuthnot, Queen Anne's physician. The ...

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Buller, Charles (1806–1848), politician and wit, was born in Calcutta on 6 August 1806, the son of Charles Buller (1774–1848), civil servant in India and politician, and his wife, Barbara Isabella Kirkpatrick (d. 1849), daughter of Major-General William Kirkpatrick of the East India Company...

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G. F. R. Barker

revised by David Turner

Capper, Joseph (1726/7–1804), eccentric, was born in Cheshire to unknown parents in humble circumstances. At an early age he travelled to London, and, after serving his apprenticeship to a grocer, set up a shop on his own account in Whitechapel. With good business connections ...

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Charteris, Francis (c. 1665–1732), gambler and rake, was born in or near Edinburgh, probably about 1665 (some ten years earlier than the 1675 date inferred from the Edinburgh obituary printed in many London newspapers shortly after his death), the son of John Charteris (...

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Christison, Sir (Alexander Frank) Philip, fourth baronet (1893–1993), army officer, was born at 40 Moray Place, Edinburgh, on 17 November 1893, the elder of the two sons and eldest of five children of Sir Alexander Christison, second baronet (1828–1918), surgeon-general in the Bengal...

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Cornwell, John Travers [Jack] (1900–1916), naval hero, was born on 8 January 1900, at Clyde Cottage, Clyde Place, Leyton, Essex, the son of Eli Cornwell (1852–1916), tram driver and soldier, originally from Newmarket, and his wife, Lily King (d. 1918). His siblings included at least two brothers (one of whom was killed in action in August 1918) and a sister. He was educated at ...

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Cotter, Patrick [performing name Patrick O'Brien] (1760/61–1806), giant, was born at Kinsale, co. Cork. He grew to be more than 8 feet tall (accounts vary from 8 feet 3½ inches to 8 feet 7 inches), and from his late teens was exhibited in ...

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Crawford, John [Jack] (1775–1831), sailor and naval hero, was born on 22 March 1775 at a house on Thornhill Bank in the east end of Sunderland, co. Durham, the son of a keelman. At an early age Crawford also worked on the keelboats that carried coal on the ...

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Cruden, Alexander (1699–1770), biblical scholar and eccentric, was born in Aberdeen on 31 May 1699, the second of eleven children of William Cruden (d. 1739), a prominent merchant and bailie in the city, and his wife, Isabel Pyper (d. 1740). He was educated in ...

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Cumming, Sir William Gordon Gordon-, fourth baronet (1848–1930), disgraced socialite, was born on 20 July 1848 at Sanquhar House, near Forres, Moray, the eldest son and second of four children of Alexander Penrose Gordon-Cumming (1816–1866), later third baronet, of Altyre and Gordonstoun, landowner and army officer, and his wife, ...

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Alsager Vian

revised by David Turner

Dancer, Daniel (1716–1794), miser, was born at Harrow Weald to unknown parents, the eldest of four children. His grandfather and father, a prosperous farmer and landowner, were both noted in their time for their parsimonious streak. Following his father's death in 1736, Daniel...