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Adams, John [alias Alexander Smith] (1768?–1829), seaman, mutineer, and settler, was born in London probably in 1768 and was serving under the name of Smith as an able seaman on HMS Bounty at the time of the mutiny on 28 April 1789 [...

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Alexander, Cosmo (1724–1772), portrait painter and traveller, was born probably in Aberdeen, the son and pupil of the Aberdonian painter and engraver John Alexander (1686–c.1766), who had worked in Rome from 1711 to 1719, and his wife, Isobel Innes. John Alexander...

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Arrowsmith, Aaron, the elder (1750–1823), cartographer and map publisher, was born on 14 July 1750 at Winston, co. Durham, the son of John and Mary Arrowsmith. His father died when Aaron was young and his mother then married a wastrel who reduced the family fortune. ...

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Kenneth Mason

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Austen, Henry Haversham Godwin- (1834–1923), explorer and geologist, was born at Teignmouth on 6 July 1834, the eldest son of Robert Alfred Cloyne Godwin-Austen (1808–1884), geologist, of Shalford House, near Guildford, Surrey, and his wife, Maria Elizabeth (d. 1904), only daughter of ...

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A. H. Beesly

revised by Andrew Lambert

Back, Sir George (1796–1878), naval officer and explorer, was born on 6 November 1796 at Stockport, Cheshire, the second son of John Back and his wife, Ann. He entered the navy as midshipman of the Arethusa in 1808. He was present at the destruction of the batteries at ...

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Baines, (John) Thomas (1820–1875), artist and explorer, was born on 27 November 1820 at King's Lynn, Norfolk, the second son and one of three surviving children of Mary Ann Watson and John Thomas Baines, a master mariner. His father and maternal grandfather were amateur artists, his brother ...

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Baker [née von Sass], Florence Barbara Maria, Lady Baker (1841–1916), traveller in Africa, was born on 6 August 1841, probably in a German-speaking region of Hungary. She was the sole survivor of an attack on her home in which the rest of her family died during the disturbances of 1848. Nothing more is known of her antecedents or early life. She is next recorded in January 1859 in the Turkish town of ...

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Baker, Sir Samuel White (1821–1893), traveller and explorer in Africa, was born on 8 June 1821 in London, the second of the eight children of Samuel Baker (d. 1862) of Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire, and his first wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Dobson...

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Balch, Herbert Ernest (1869–1958), cave explorer and museum curator, was born in St Thomas Street, Wells, Somerset, on 4 November 1869, the second of six children of William Balch, brushmaker, and his wife, Sarah Ellen, née Smith. Aged seven, he won a scholarship to ...

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Bankes, William John (1786–1855), traveller and antiquary, was born on 11 December 1786, second son of Henry Bankes (1757–1834) of Kingston Lacy, Dorset, politician and author, and his wife, Frances (1760/61–1823), daughter of William Woodley, governor of the Leeward Islands, and the elder brother of ...

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Barrow, Sir John, first baronet (1764–1848), promoter of exploration and author, was born on 19 June 1764 at Dragley Beck, Ulverston, Lancashire, the only child of Roger Barrow, journeyman tanner, and his wife, Mary. Educated at the local Town Bank grammar school, which he left at the age of thirteen, ...

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Beard, William (1772–1868), tourist guide and collector of bones, was born on 24 April 1772 at Woolvershill, Banwell, Somerset, the eldest of the eight children of John Beard (1738–1801), a farmer, and his second wife, Ann Poole (1760–1833). He was educated by John Tuckey...

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Beaufort, Daniel Augustus (1739–1821), Church of Ireland clergyman and cartographer, was the eldest son of the Revd Daniel Cornelius de Beaufort (1700–1788) and his wife, Esther Gougeon. The elder Beaufort was born at Wesel in Westphalia, the seventh child of Count Francis de Beaufort...

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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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Beke, Charles Tilstone (1800–1874), traveller and geographer, was born on 10 October 1800 at Stepney, London, the son of James Beke. The family had ancestral connections to Bekesbourne in Kent, where Beke lived in later life. He was educated at a private school in ...

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian (1868–1926), traveller, archaeologist, and diplomatist, was born at Washington Hall, co. Durham, on 14 July 1868, the elder child and only daughter of (Thomas) Hugh Bell (1844–1931), an ironmaster, who succeeded his father as second baronet in 1904, and his first wife, ...

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Bennelong (c. 1765–1813), Aboriginal visitor to England, belonged to the Wangal band of the Eora people, who lived on the southern shore of Port Jackson, between what is now central Sydney and Parramatta. He was sometimes called Wolarawaree and also Ogultroyee. Following the British settlement of January 1788 he was one of a number of local men who became well acquainted with the invaders. As ...

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Bishop [née Bird], Isabella Lucy (1831–1904), traveller, was born on 15 October 1831 at Boroughbridge Hall, Yorkshire, the home of her maternal grandmother. She was the elder daughter of the Revd Edward Bird (1792/3–1858) and his second wife, Dora, the daughter of the ...

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Blogg, Henry George (1876–1954), lifeboat coxswain, was born in Cromer on 6 February 1876, the son of Ellen Blogg. He was educated at the Goldsmiths' School, Cromer, where he proved quick at learning and revealed an unusually retentive memory. He took no part in games, failed to defend himself against bullying, and never learned to swim. When nearly twelve he began life as a longshore fisherman. In 1894 he joined the ...

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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' (...