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Barry, James (c. 1799–1865), army medical officer and transvestite, was probably born Margaret, the youngest daughter of Mrs Mary Ann Bulkley or Bulkeley, the sister of the artist James Barry; her paternity is in doubt. From the age of ten she dressed and presented herself as a man, but the woman who laid out her corpse declared that she was female: '...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Lawrence, Dorothy (1887/8–1964), journalist, soldier, and sexual impostor, was of uncertain origins, but by 1911 was a freelance journalist living in Kensington, London.

In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Lawrence was living in Paris. She contacted several British newspapers, offering to work as a war correspondent from the front line in ...

Article

Macdonald, Sir Hector Archibald (1853–1903), army officer and popular hero, youngest of five sons of William Macdonald, a crofter and mason, and his wife, Ann, daughter of John Boyd of Killiechoilum and of Cradlehall, was born at Rootfield, Urquhart, Ross-shire, on 4 March 1853. Gaelic-speaking outside school, he attended the local ...

Article

Patch, Henry John [Harry] (1898–2009), soldier and plumber, and longest surviving British veteran of the First World War, was born on 17 June 1898 at Fonthill Cottage, Combe Down, Somerset, the youngest of three sons (there were no daughters) of William John Patch (1863–1945)...

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Pitt, Thomas, second Baron Camelford (1775–1804), naval officer and rake, was born on 19 February 1775 at Boconnoc House, Cornwall, the younger of two children of Thomas Pitt, first Baron Camelford (1737–1793), landowner and politician, and Anne (1738–1803), daughter of Pinckney Wilkinson, London...

Article

Snell, Hannah [alias James Gray] (1723–1792), sexual impostor, was born on 23 April 1723 in Friar Street, St Helen's, Worcester, the eighth of nine children of Samuel Snell, a hosier, and his wife, Mary Williams. Robert Walker's biography of Snell's life, first published in 1750, provides a clue to what might have shaped ...

Article

Talbot, Mary Anne [alias John Taylor] (1778–1808), sailor and soldier, was born on 2 February 1778 at 62 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, the youngest of her mother's sixteen children. Mary Anne was purportedly the illegitimate daughter of William Talbot, the first earl of Talbot...