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Appleby, Sir William (1732–1796), eccentric and municipal reformer, was born at Durham on 15 September 1732, the third surviving son of Edward Appleby (1702–1736), a grocer, who was said to have introduced the bleaching of linen cloth from Ireland to Durham, and his wife, ...

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Astor [née Langhorne], Nancy Witcher, Viscountess Astor (1879–1964), society hostess and politician, was born at Danville, Virginia, on 19 May 1879, the eighth child in a family of eleven. Her father, Chiswell Dabney Langhorne (1843–1919), a veteran of the American Civil War, had made his fortune in railway construction and bought an estate at ...

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Nancy Witcher Astor, Viscountess Astor (1879–1964) by George Charles Beresford, 1920 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Baume, Pierre Henri Joseph (1797–1875), radical activist and eccentric, was born at Marseilles on 17 October 1797, the son of Henri Joseph Baume (1770–1831) and Marie Claire Antoinette Merlat (1780–1837). His parents ran a wig-making shop and were inclined both to anti-clericalism and adultery. When he was still young his father moved to ...

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Noel Pemberton Billing (1881–1948) by Elliott & Fry, 1920s ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Billing, Noel Pemberton (1881–1948), aviator and self-publicist, was born on 31 January 1881 in Hampstead, the youngest child of Charles Eardley Billing, a Birmingham iron-founder, and his wife, Annie Emilia Claridge. He was educated at the high school, Hampstead; Cumming's College, outside Boulogne...

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Bosville, William (1745–1813), society host and radical, was born on 21 July 1745, the eldest son of Godfrey Bosville of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire, and his wife, Diana, the eldest daughter of Sir William Wentworth, baronet, of West Bretton. Bosville was able to trace his family back to the reign of ...

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Charles Buller (1806–1848) by Edward Scriven, pubd 1840 (after Bryan Edward Duppa) ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Buller, Charles (1806–1848), politician and wit, was born in Calcutta on 6 August 1806, the son of Charles Buller (1774–1848), civil servant in India and politician, and his wife, Barbara Isabella Kirkpatrick (d. 1849), daughter of Major-General William Kirkpatrick of the East India Company...

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Dashwood, Francis, eleventh Baron Le Despencer (1708–1781), politician and rake, born in Great Marlborough Street, London, in December 1708, and baptized at St Botolph without Bishopsgate on 23 December 1708, was the only son of Sir Francis Dashwood, first baronet (c. 1658–1724), merchant and MP, of ...

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Francis Dashwood, eleventh Baron Le Despencer (1708–1781) by Nathaniel Dance, 1776 The Dashwood Heirloom Collection. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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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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Dick, Quintin (1777–1858), politician and socialite, was born in March 1777 in Dublin, the eldest of four children of Samuel Dick (d. 1802), East India proprietor and merchant, and his wife, Charlotte, daughter of Nicholas Forster of Tullaghan, co. Monaghan, Ireland. Educated at ...

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Douglas, William, fourth duke of Queensberry (1725–1810), sybarite and politician, only son of William Douglas, second earl of March (c.1696–1731), and his wife, Anne Hamilton, suo jure countess of Ruglen (1698–1748), was born on 16 December 1725 at Queensberry Lodging, Peebles...

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Earle, Giles (c. 1678–1758), politician and wit, was born about 1678 at the family residence, Eastcourt House, Crudwell, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, the sixth son of Sir Thomas Earle MP, a merchant and mayor of Bristol, and his wife, Elizabeth Ellinor Jackson. He was educated at the ...

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Pamela Fitzgerald (1776?–1831) by Mallary, 1800 [front, with her daughter Pamela] National Gallery of Ireland

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Fitzgerald, Pamela [formerly Anne Caroline Stéphanie Sims; Lady Edward Fitzgerald] (1776?–1831), celebrity and associate of Irish nationalists, was almost certainly the illegitimate daughter of Louis-Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans (1747–1793), cousin of Louis XVI of France, and his mistress, (Caroline) Stéphanie Félicité Brulart, ...

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Fuller, John (1757–1834), politician and eccentric, was born on 20 February 1757 at North Stoneham, Southampton, Hampshire, the only son of Revd Henry Fuller (1713–1761), rector of North Stoneham, and his wife, Frances (1725/6–1778), his cousin, and daughter of Thomas Fuller of Catsfield, Sussex...

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Gibson [née Cullum], (Susannah) Arethusa (1814–1885), society hostess and political activist, was born on 11 January 1814 at Southgate Green, Bury St Edmunds, the only child of Revd Sir Thomas Gery Cullum, eighth baronet (1777–1855), and his first wife, Mary Anne, née...