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Abel, Sir Frederick Augustus, first baronet (1827–1902), chemist and explosives expert, was born on 17 July 1827 at Woolwich, the eldest son of Johann Leopold Abel (1795–1871), a music master in Kennington, and his wife, Louisa (d. 1864), daughter of Martin Hopkins...

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Abraham, Sir Edward Penley (1913–1999), biochemist, was born at 47 Southview Road, Southampton, on 10 June 1913, the son of Albert Penley Abraham, a customs and excise officer, and his wife, Mary Abraham, née Hearne. Educated at King Edward VI School, Southampton, and ...

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Adams, John Couch (1819–1892), astronomer, was born on 5 June 1819 at Lidcot, a farm near Launceston, Cornwall, the eldest of the seven children of Thomas Adams (1788–1859), a poor tenant farmer, and his wife, Tabitha Knill Grylls (1796–1866), a farmer's daughter who had received some education from her uncle ...

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Aikin, Arthur (1773–1854), natural scientist and author, was born on 19 May 1773 at Warrington, Lancashire, the eldest son of John Aikin (1747–1822) and his wife, Martha (c.1746–1830), daughter of Arthur Jennings of Cheapside, London. His brothers were Charles Rochemont Aikin...

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Aird, Sir John, first baronet (1833–1911), civil engineering contractor, was born on 3 December 1833 in Greenwich, the second son of eight children of John Aird (1800–1876), contractor, and Agnes (d. 1869), daughter of Charles Bennett of Lambeth. His grandfather Robert Aird...

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Airy, Sir George Biddell (1801–1892), astronomer, was born at Alnwick, Northumberland, on 27 July 1801, the eldest of the four children of William Airy (1749–1827), of Luddington in Lincolnshire. His mother, Ann Biddell (d. 1841), a woman of strong character and natural abilities, was the daughter of a well-to-do farmer from near ...

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J. M. Whittaker

revised by Anita McConnell

Aitken, Alexander Craig (1895–1967), mathematician, was born at Dunedin, New Zealand, on 1 April 1895, the eldest of the seven children of William Aitken and his wife, Elizabeth Towers. His grandfather Alexander Aitken had emigrated from Lanarkshire to Otago in 1868 and farmed in the neighbourhood of ...

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G. T. Bettany

revised by Yolanda Foote

Alder, Joshua (1792–1867), zoologist, was born on 7 April 1792 at Dean Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of provision merchants. He was educated at Tanfield School, under a relative, the Revd Joseph Simpson. On his father's death in November 1808, he left school to help his mother run the family business. An early acquaintance with the wood-engraver ...

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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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Leslie Stephen

revised by G. F. Bartle

Allen, William (1770–1843), philanthropist and scientist, was born on 29 August 1770 at Stewart Street, the Old Artillery Ground, Spitalfields, London, the eldest of the six sons of Job Allen (1734–1800) and his wife, Margaret Stafford (d. 1830). His father, a silk manufacturer, was a member of the ...

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Allibone, Thomas Edward [Ted] (1903–2003), physicist and electrical engineer, was born on 11 November 1903 at 10 Melbourne Road, Nether Hallam, Sheffield, the son of Henry James Allibone, schoolteacher, and his wife, Eliza, née Kidger, a farmer's daughter. He was educated at the ...

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Anderson, John (1726–1796), natural philosopher, was born on 26 September 1726 in the parish of Rosneath, Dunbartonshire, the eldest child of the three sons and one daughter of James Anderson (d. 1734?), the minister of the parish, and his wife, Margaret Turner (...

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Anning, Mary (1799–1847), fossil collector and dealer, was born on 21 May 1799 in a seaside house in Lyme Regis, Dorset. She and her brother Joseph (1796–1849) were the only surviving children of Richard Anning (c.1766–1810), cabinet-maker and carpenter, and his wife, ...

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J. A. Ratcliffe

revised by Roger Hutchins

Appleton, Sir Edward Victor (1892–1965), physicist, was born in Maperton Road, Bradford, Yorkshire, on 6 September 1892, the eldest child of Peter Appleton, of Eccleshill, Bradford, a warehouse clerk on the staff of Charles Senior & Co., and his wife, Mary Wilcock.

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Archer, Frederick Scott (1813–1857), inventor of the collodion process in photography, was the second son of Thomas Archer, a butcher at Hertford, where he was probably born. Orphaned as a child, he was brought up by distant relatives and friends and while still a young man was apprenticed to a silversmith and bullion dealer named ...

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L. R. Cox

revised by J. H. Callomon

Arkell, William Joscelyn (1904–1958), geologist, was born in Highworth, Wiltshire, on 9 June 1904, the youngest of a family of seven of James Arkell, brewer, and his wife, a talented artist, Laura Jane, daughter of Augustus William Rixon, a London solicitor. From an early age ...

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Arkwright, Sir Richard (1732–1792), inventor of cotton-spinning machinery and cotton manufacturer, was born on 23 December 1732 at Preston, Lancashire, the sixth of the seven children of Thomas Arkwright (1691–1753), a tailor, and his wife, Ellen Hodgkinson (1693–1778). The family was rooted in ...

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Armstrong, Henry Edward (1848–1937), chemist and educational reformer, was born on 6 May 1848 at Caroline Place, Avenue Road, Lewisham, Kent, the eldest son of Richard Armstrong (1827–1884), a commission agent and importer, and his wife, Mary Ann Biddle. He was educated at ...

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Arnold, John (1735/6–1799), watch and chronometer maker, was the son of John Arnold (1702–1776), clockmaker, of Bodmin, Cornwall. He was apprenticed to his father and probably worked briefly for his uncle William Arnold, a gunsmith, before going to the Netherlands about 1755. There he improved his knowledge of clockmaking and learned German, a language which later proved useful to him in the Hanoverian court. He returned to ...

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Arup, Sir Ove Nyquist (1895–1988), civil engineer, was born on 16 April 1895 in Newcastle upon Tyne, the elder son and second of the three children of (Jens Simon) Johannes Arup and his wife, Mathilde Bolette Nyquist. Johannes Arup was Danish veterinary consul in ...