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Aske, Robert (1619–1689), silk merchant and benefactor, was born on 24 February 1619, the son of Robert Aske of the parish of St Mary Woolchurch, London, and his second wife, Margery Middleton, the widowed daughter of John Hill of Wendover, whom he married in 1611. The two ...

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Alice Barnham (1523–1604) by unknown artist, c. 1557 [Alice Barnham and her sons Martin and Steven] Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum, photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

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Barnham [née Bradbridge], Alice (1523–1604), silkwoman and benefactor, was born on 7 September 1523 at Chichester, Sussex, one of the youngest of the fourteen children of William Bradbridge (d. 1546), a successful and prosperous mercer, and his wife, Alice. Alice Barnham...

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Beckett [née Bousfield; other married name Thomas], Frances Sarah [Fanny] (bap. 1821, d. 1902), philanthropist and a founder of Scottish Home Industries, was baptized on 27 June 1821, at Frimley, Surrey, the only child of George Thomas Frederick Bousfield, solicitor, and his wife, ...

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Collier [Collyer], Richard (1480x85?–1533), mercer and benefactor, was born at Horsham, Sussex. The identity of his parents is unknown. He was closely related to the Caryll family of the neighbouring parish of Warnham, but the precise nature of that kinship remains unclear....

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Cooke, John (d. 1528), mercer and benefactor, was born in Minsterworth, a few miles west of Gloucester, the son of Thomas and Alice Cooke. The loss of Gloucester's early civic records means that little can be said of his career there, except that he prospered greatly in the town. He served as sheriff—the equivalent of bailiff—in 1494 and 1498, and became an alderman in 1501, the year in which he was first chosen to be mayor; he was elected again in 1507, 1512, and 1519. In June of 1513 he was involved, as mayor, in a dispute over common rights with the abbot of ...

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Elsyng, William (d. 1349), mercer and hospital founder, probably came from the village of Elsing in Norfolk. His parents are known only by their first names, John and Emma. His brother Richard had the surname Feverer, which may have been the family name before their likely birthplace replaced it. Like many ...

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Mitchell, Sir Henry (1824–1898), textile merchant and philanthropist, was born in November 1824 at Esholt, near Bradford, Yorkshire, the son of Matthew Harper Mitchell, a small local textile manufacturer, and his wife, Ann. He went to a local elementary school, and at the age of fourteen entered his father's worsted mill to learn the principles of textile manufacture. In 1841 he was taken on by the worsted firm of ...

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Roysse, John (1500/01–1571), mercer and benefactor, was born in either 1500 or 1501, possibly on 31 January, and brought up in Abingdon, Berkshire. Nothing is known for certain about his father and mother, but the family name is recorded in sixteenth-century sources in ...

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Rylands, John (1801–1888), textile merchant and philanthropist, was born on 7 February 1801 in the village of Parr, near St Helens in Lancashire, the third and youngest son of the five children of Joseph Rylands (1767–1847) and Elizabeth Pilkington Rylands (1761–1829), both of old ...