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Appulby, Simon [Symon the Anker of London Wall] (d. 1537), religious recluse and author, was the last anchorite to be attached to the church of All Hallows, London Wall. An ordained priest, Simon made his anchoritic profession at the nearby priory of the ...

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Balthere [St Balthere, Baldred, Balther] (d. 756), hermit, is often confused with an earlier saint of the same name. The later and better-known Balthere was described by his near contemporary Alcuin, in his poem on the bishops, kings, and saints of York. The so-called ...

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Bartholomew of Farne [St Bartholomew of Farne] (d. 1193), hermit, stands second in reputation only to Godric of Finchale among the hermits of northern England in the twelfth century. Just as Godric's fame depends on the life written by Reginald, a monk of ...

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Billfrith [St Billfrith] (d. 750x800?), anchorite, is mentioned in the Old English colophon which the scribe Aldred added to the Lindisfarne gospels (BL, Cotton MS Nero D.iv) at some time between 950 and about 970, when they were at Chester-le-Street. After naming ...

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Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840–1922) by Elliott & Fry © National Portrait Gallery, London

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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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Borstale, Thomas (supp. fl. 1290), supposed Augustinian hermit, is said by Bale to have come from Norfolk and to have studied in England, and taught theology at the University of Paris c.1290. Bale adds that Borstale died at the Augustinian convent in ...

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Caradog (1060x75–1124), hermit and monk, was the son of noble parents from Brycheiniog (Brecon). The principal source for his life is an account in Capgrave's Nova legenda Angliae which probably derives from a life, now lost, written by Gerald of Wales...

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Chester, Charles (c. 1554–1604), informer and wit, probably born in Bristol, was one of ten children of Dominic Chester (d. 1575), merchant and MP, and his wife, Mary (d. 1572), the daughter of Roger Barlow, merchant and explorer, and his wife, ...

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Clare, Bogo de (1248–1294), ecclesiastic and figure of scandal, was born on 21 July 1248, the third son of Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (1222–1262), and his second wife, Maud (d. 1288/9), daughter of John de Lacy, earl of Lincoln...

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Deicolus [St Deicolus, Deicola] (d. c. 625), Benedictine monk and hermit, was allegedly a companion of St Columbanus of Luxeuil and Bobbio (d. 615), and a half-brother of Gall of St Gallen. His feast day is 18 January.

According to his life, written about 965, sickness prevented ...

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Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée D'Éon de Beaumont, Chevalier D'Éon in the French nobility (1728–1810) by George Dance, 1793 © Copyright The British Museum

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D'Éon de Beaumont, Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée, Chevalier D'Éon in the French nobility (1728–1810), diplomatist and transvestite, was born at the Hotel d'Uzès, Tonnerre, Burgundy, on 5 October 1728. He came of an old noble family, possibly of Breton origin, though, like much else about this extraordinary personage, his genealogical pretensions later gave rise to judicial proceedings. His father, ...

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Gédéon Gaspard Alfred de Grimaud D'Orsay, styled Count D'Orsay (1801–1852) by Sir George Hayter, 1839 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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D'Orsay, Gédéon Gaspard Alfred de Grimaud [Alfred Guillaume Gabriel], styled Count D'Orsay (1801–1852), artist and dandy, was born in Paris on 4 September 1801, second son of Albert, Count D'Orsay, a general in Napoleon's grand armée, and Eleanore de Franquemont, an illegitimate daughter of the ...

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Farne, John of [John Whiterig] (c. 1320–1371), Benedictine monk and hermit, was the author of seven Latin meditations. The only surviving manuscript of his work (Durham Cath. CL, MS B.IV.34), written in a late fourteenth-century hand, ascribes them to 'a certain monk, formerly a solitary on ...

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Robert Feilding (1650/5151–1712) by Jan van der Vaart, c.1678-79 (after Sir Peter Lely) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Feilding, Robert (1650/51–1712), rake and bigamist, was born at Solihull, Warwickshire, the son of George Feilding, landowner, a kinsman of the earl of Denbigh. Nothing is known about his mother. He was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1673, but upon inheriting £600...

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Flete, William [known as Brother William of England] (fl. 1352–1380), Augustinian friar and hermit, always called himself Brother William of England. He was first designated 'of Flete', which presumably refers to Fleet in Lincolnshire, when the prior-general of his order granted him conventual status at the priory of ...

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Godric of Finchale [St Godric of Finchale] (c. 1070–1170), trader and hermit, was born at Walpole in Norfolk to a poor, Anglo-Saxon, farming couple. His father's name was Æilward, his mother's Aedwen (Eadwenna), and he was subsequently joined by a brother, William, and a sister, ...