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Adams, William Grylls (1836–1915), scientist and university teacher, was born on 10 February 1836 at Lidcot, Laneast, Cornwall, the youngest son of the four sons and three daughters of Thomas Adams (1788–1859), small estate owner and farmer, and his wife, Tabitha Knill Grylls (1796–1866)...

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Alfonsi, Petrus (fl. 1106–1126), scholar and translator of scientific works, was born in northern Spain, to Jewish parents. He was baptized a Christian on 29 June 1106 in Huesca, Aragon, with the names of the apostle on whose feast day the baptism took place and of his godfather, ...

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(Charles) Grant Blairfindie Allen (1848–1899) by Sir William Rothenstein, 1897 © Estate of Sir William Rothenstein / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Allen, (Charles) Grant Blairfindie (1848–1899), writer on science and novelist, was born at Alwington, near Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on 24 February 1848, the second but only surviving son of Joseph Antisell Allen (1814–1900), a clergyman of the Church of Ireland who had emigrated to ...

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Andrews, Henry Cranke (1758/9–1835), botanical artist and engraver, is an elusive figure; little is known of his family background or education, and he has been widely misnamed as Henry Charles Andrews. When he married, on 18 October 1801 at St Margaret’s, Westminster, Ann Kennedy...

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Andrews, William (1634/5–1712/13), astrologer and teacher of mathematics, was a well-known compiler of almanacs. He spent his adult life in Essex, at Ashdown (1656), Saffron Walden (by 1660), and nearby Radwinter (from 1668), but it is not known whether he married. He studied astrology from about 1652 and composed his first almanac, for 1655, at the age of nineteen; a new edition followed every year until his death. Though he included political prophecies, he avoided controversy by taking a firmly patriotic line, predicting disasters for ...

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Askham [Ascham], Anthony (c. 1517–1559), writer on astronomy and almanac maker, was born at Kirby Wiske, near Northallerton, Yorkshire, the third son of John Ascham (d. 1544) of Kirby Wiske, who was a yeoman farmer and steward to Lord Scrope of Bolton...

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H. T. Wood

revised by M. C. Curthoys

Bachhoffner, George Henry (1810–1879), scientific lecturer, was born in London on 13 April 1810, the son of Andrew George Bachhoffner (1779/80–1857), a currier and leather cutter, and his first wife, Shepherdess Jane Wright (bap. 1788, d. 1812). He studied at the ...

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Bagwell, William (b. c. 1593, d. in or after 1664), merchant and writer on astronomy, was, according to his own account, 'bred a merchant in good quality, skilfully furnished with knowledge in all things necessary, and having seen the world abroad' (...

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Baker, Humphrey (fl. 1557–1574), writer on astrology and arithmetic, whose origins are unknown, was living in London when his almanac was published in 1557. A small volume, printed in black letter, it was entitled The rules and right ample documentes, touchinge the use and practise of the common almanackes, which are named ephemerides: a briefe … introduction upon the iudicall astrologie … with a treatise … touching the coniunction of the planets … the hole faithfully and clerely translated into Englysche by Humprey Baker BL...

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Barrow, John (fl. 1735–1774), teacher of mathematics and writer, is known solely through his publications. As a young man he taught mathematics and navigation to the ‘young gentlemen’ on Royal Navy ships. The status of the naval schoolmaster aboard was not high: he was for example excluded from the officers' mess, but ...

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Baskerville, Thomas (1812–1840), surgeon and writer on botany, was baptized at Canterbury, Kent, on 26 April 1812, the son of William Mercurius Baskerville (1782–1875), who was sheriff of Canterbury in 1825, and his wife Rebecca Lawrence (1780–1806). He served a four-year medical apprenticeship to ...

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Bate, John (fl. 1626–1635), writer on mechanics, is an obscure figure; his birth and death dates, parentage, and virtually all personal details remain unknown. Bate's The Mysteries of Nature and Art (1634) is the first comprehensive illustrated English book on waterworks and hydraulic machinery. It also includes sections on drawing, painting, recipes, and folk remedies, as well as one on fireworks and incendiary devices largely derivative of earlier English and continental works on the subject. A second, greatly expanded edition in 1635 was followed by a third edition, printed in 1654, which has few changes from the second edition....

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Bauer, Ferdinand Lukas (1760–1826), botanical artist, was born on 20 January 1760 at Feldsberg, Austria, the son of Lukas Bauer or Baur (1706/7–1762), court painter to the prince of Liechtenstein, and his wife, Theresia, née Hirsch. Three sons—Joseph (1756–1831), Franz Andreas Bauer (1758–1840)...

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Franz Andreas Bauer (1758–1840) by William Brockedon, 1834 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bauer, Franz Andreas (1758–1840), microscopist and botanical artist, was born on 4 October 1758 in Feldsberg, Austria (now Valtice, Czech Republic). He was the second of the four sons of Lukas Bauer or Baur (1706/1707–1762), a religious and court painter to the ...

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Benest, Cleone de Heveningham [pseud. C. Griff] (1880–1963), motorist, engineer, and metallurgist, was born at 40 Hampton Road, Forest Gate, London, on 13 June 1880, the only child of George Philip Benest (1853–1930?), house proprietor, and his wife Edith Maria, ...

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Biggs, Charles Henry Walker (1845–1923), technical journalist and journal editor, was born Charles Henry Biggs on 23 May 1845 in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, the son of Elizabeth Walker Biggs and an unknown father. He was probably educated in Reading. According to one obituary he soon showed a technical bent for '...

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Blackwell [née Blachrie], Elizabeth (bap. 1707, d. 1758), botanical author and artist, was baptized on 22 June 1707 at St Nicholas, Aberdeen, the sixth daughter of a prosperous stocking merchant, William Blachrie (b. c.1669) and his wife, Isobel Fordyce. Elizabeth...

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Boate, Arnold (1606–1653), biblical scholar and writer on natural history, was born in Gorinchem in the Netherlands, a younger son of Godefroy de Boot (c.1570–1625), knight, and Christina van Loon (fl. 1600–1630). With his elder brother Gerard Boate he studied arts and medicine at the ...