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William Bedloe (1650–1680) by Robert White, pubd 1681 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Thomas Blood (1617/1818–1680) by unknown artist The Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge

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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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J. T. Gilbert

revised by S. J. Skedd

Bradstreet, Dudley (1711–1763), adventurer and spy, was born in Tipperary, where his father had obtained considerable land under the Cromwellian grants. His father's wealth was much reduced by debts, and Dudley, who was the youngest son, was looked after by a foster father in ...

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Broughton, Thomas Duer (1778–1835), army officer in the East India Company and writer on India, was born in Bristol on 8 March 1778, son of the Revd Thomas Broughton, rector of St Peter's, Bristol, and his wife, Jane; he was great-grandson of the ...

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Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842–1885) by James Tissot, 1870 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Stanley Lane-Poole

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Campbell, Donald (1751–1804), army officer and travel writer, of Barbreck, Argyll, is best known for his A journey over land to India … by Donald Campbell of Barbreck, who formerly commanded a regiment of cavalry in the service of the nabob of the Carnatic: in a series of letters to his son...

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Cavendish, Henry (1550–1616), soldier and traveller, was the eldest son of Sir William Cavendish (1508–1557) of Chatsworth, Derbyshire, administrator, and his third wife, Elizabeth [see Talbot, Elizabeth, countess of Shrewsbury (1527–1608)], noblewoman, known as Bess of Hardwick, daughter of John Hardwick...

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Champion de Crespigny, Sir Claude, fourth baronet (1847–1935), military adventurer and sportsman, was born in Chelsea on 20 April 1847, the eldest son of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, third baronet (1818–1868), of Wivenhoe Hall, Essex, and his wife, Mary, second daughter of ...

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J. M. Rigg

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Chavasse, William (1784/5–1814), army officer and traveller, tried with a brother officer, Captain Macdonald, to explore in 1814 the route traversed by the ten thousand under Xenophon. Starting from Constantinople they got as far as Ingra, near Baghdad, where they were captured by a ...

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Childs, William John (c. 1869–1933), author and government official, was the son of William John Childs. The formative period of his life, most of which remains unclear, occurred from 1909 to 1913, when he lived and travelled widely in Anatolia and Thrace. Glimpses of his earlier life, and of travel in various parts of the world, the Ottoman empire especially, are provided by his later publications, as well as by official and private archival material. Nevertheless ...

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Hugh Clapperton (1788–1827) by G. Manton Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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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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Dartasso, Janico (d. 1426), adventurer, was born in Navarre, of Basque descent; he is first mentioned in 1367–8, while serving in the garrison of Cherbourg, then in the possession of Charles d'Évreux, king of Navarre. It seems likely that he remained at Cherbourg...

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Walter Devereux, first earl of Essex (1539–1576) by unknown artist, 1575? [after original, 1572] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Devereux, Walter, first earl of Essex (1539–1576), nobleman and adventurer, was born on 16 September 1539 at Chartley, Staffordshire, the eldest son of Sir Richard Devereux and his wife, Dorothy, daughter of George Hastings, first earl of Huntingdon. Sir Richard, who was created a knight of the Order of the Garter on 20 February 1548, died the same year, in the lifetime of his father, ...

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Fermor, Sir Patrick Michael [Paddy] Leigh (1915–2011), special operations officer and author, was born on 11 February 1915 at 20 Endsleigh Gardens, Bloomsbury, London, the younger child and only son of Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor (1880–1954), geologist, and his first wife, Muriel Aileen (otherwise Eileen or Æileen), ...

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Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor (1915–2011) by Joan Leigh Fermor, 1946 © Patrick Fermor Archive, Trustees of the National Library of Scotland