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Alexander, Cosmo (1724–1772), portrait painter and traveller, was born probably in Aberdeen, the son and pupil of the Aberdonian painter and engraver John Alexander (1686–c.1766), who had worked in Rome from 1711 to 1719, and his wife, Isobel Innes. John Alexander...

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Baker, Sir Samuel White (1821–1893), traveller and explorer in Africa, was born on 8 June 1821 in London, the second of the eight children of Samuel Baker (d. 1862) of Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire, and his first wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Dobson...

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Bankes, William John (1786–1855), traveller and antiquary, was born on 11 December 1786, second son of Henry Bankes (1757–1834) of Kingston Lacy, Dorset, politician and author, and his wife, Frances (1760/61–1823), daughter of William Woodley, governor of the Leeward Islands, and the elder brother of ...

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Beard, William (1772–1868), tourist guide and collector of bones, was born on 24 April 1772 at Woolvershill, Banwell, Somerset, the eldest of the eight children of John Beard (1738–1801), a farmer, and his second wife, Ann Poole (1760–1833). He was educated by John Tuckey...

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Bedloe, William (1650–1680), informer and adventurer, was the second son of Isaac Bedloe (d. 1656). William Bedloe was born in Chepstow on 20 May 1650 and spent his early life both there and in Bristol. Much of his early life was deliberately clouded in obscurity. His own published account of his parentage and ancestry remains dubious. He claimed that his father had been a gentleman soldier who had served the king in the civil wars and whose own father was ...

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Beke, Charles Tilstone (1800–1874), traveller and geographer, was born on 10 October 1800 at Stepney, London, the son of James Beke (1779–1853), architect, and his wife Susannah Hindle (1778–1864). The family had ancestral connections to Bekesbourne in Kent, where ...

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Bennelong (c. 1765–1813), Aboriginal visitor to England, belonged to the Wangal band of the Eora people, who lived on the southern shore of Port Jackson, between what is now central Sydney and Parramatta. He was sometimes called Wolarawaree and also Ogultroyee. Following the British settlement of January 1788 he was one of a number of local men who became well acquainted with the invaders. As ...

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Blood, Thomas (1617/18–1680), adventurer and spy, was born at Sarney, co. Meath. His early life is obscure, but it was later claimed that his father (who was possibly Neptune Blood) was a blacksmith and ironworker, 'serious, honest and of no inferior credit...

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Blount, Sir Henry (1602–1682), traveller, was born at Tittenhanger, Hertfordshire, on 15 December 1602 and baptized at Ridge, Hertfordshire, on 22 December, son of Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Blount (1556–1639) and Frances Pigot (c.1564–1619). He went to the free school at ...

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Bodley, John Edward Courtenay (1853–1925), writer on France, was born on 6 June 1853 at King Street, Hanley, Staffordshire, the son of Edward Fisher Bodley, commercial traveller, and later a wealthy pottery owner, and his second wife, Mary Ridgway. Bodley was educated at ...

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Borrow, George Henry (1803–1881), writer and traveller, was born on 5 July 1803 at East Dereham in Norfolk, the son of Captain Thomas Borrow (1758–1824), adjutant of the West Norfolk militia, and his wife, Ann (1772–1858), daughter of Samuel Parfrement, a farmer. His elder brother was ...

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G. C. Boase

revised by Philip S. Bagwell

Bradshaw, George (1801–1853), compiler of railway guides, only son of Thomas Bradshaw and his wife, Mary Rogers, was born at Windsor Bridge, Pendleton, Salford, Lancashire, on 29 July 1801. His parents, although of limited means, gave him a good education, placing him under the care of a ...

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Bruce, James, of Kinnaird (1730–1794), traveller in Africa, was born at Kinnaird House, Kinnaird, Stirlingshire, on 14 December 1730, son of David Bruce (d. 1758), laird of Kinnaird, and Marion (d. 1733), daughter of Judge James Graham, dean of faculty at ...

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G. F. R. Barker

revised by Felix Driver

Buckingham, James Silk (1786–1855), author and traveller, was the youngest child of Christopher and Thomazine Buckingham, born at Flushing, near Falmouth, on 25 August 1786. He was drawn to a seafaring life from an early age, having only a limited education at various local schools. While on his third voyage, in 1797, he was taken prisoner by the French and was confined for several months at ...

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Stanley Lane-Poole

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Burckhardt, Johann Ludwig (1784–1817), traveller, was born at Lausanne on 25 November 1784 of a family which had long been settled at Basel. His parents were Johann Rudolf Burckhardt (1750–1813), ribbon manufacturer, and his second wife, Sara, née Rohner. The French invasion of ...

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Burnaby, Frederick Gustavus (1842–1885), army officer and traveller, was born at the old rectory, St Peter's Green, Bedford, on 3 March 1842, the elder son of the Revd Gustavus Andrew Burnaby (1802–1872) of Somerby Hall, near Oakham, Rutland, rector of St Peter's, Bedford...

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Chatwin, (Charles) Bruce (1940–1989), traveller and writer, was born on 13 May 1940 in Sheffield, the elder child (his brother was born four years later) of Charles Leslie Chatwin, a Birmingham solicitor, and his wife, Margharita Turnell. He was educated at Marlborough College...

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Clapperton, Hugh (1788–1827), naval officer and traveller in Africa, was born at Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the youngest son of George Clapperton, a surgeon, and his first wife, the daughter of John Johnstone. His mother died when he was a child, and his father remarried. Feckless (he fathered altogether twenty-one children), negligent of his medical practice, and, as a result, impoverished, his father left him to the charge of a spiteful stepmother who cared only for her own children. His schooling was neglected, and he learned little more than to read and write. Eventually the town schoolmaster gave him lessons in practical mathematics and navigation, and he taught himself to draw....

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Constable, William (1783–1861), traveller and photographer, was born on 5 April 1783 at Tedhams, Horley Mill, Horley, Surrey, the fifth child in the family of seven sons and two daughters of James Constable (1749–1838), miller and country shopkeeper of Horley, and his wife, ...

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Cook, Thomas (1808–1892), travel agent, was born on 22 November 1808 at 9 Quick Close, Melbourne, Derbyshire. He was the only child of John Cook (1785–1812), labourer, and his wife, Elizabeth (d. 1854), daughter of Thomas Perkins, a New Connexion Baptist pastor. The family was poor and their circumstances did not improve when ...