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Blundell, Peter (c. 1520–1601), clothier and philanthropist, was born in Tiverton, Devon, of humble parentage. As a boy he saw the little community freed from the dominance of the Courtenay earls of Devon, and he lived to see it, untrammelled by either civic or industrial regulation, and somewhat encouraged by the protestant ethic, enter a period of considerable growth and prosperity based on the manufacture of kerseys, the woollen cloths in which the town and its immediate hinterland specialized. Whether the young ...

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Thompson Cooper

revised by Juanita Burnby

Crane, John (1570/71–1652), apothecary and benefactor, was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The details of his parents are unknown except that his father was born in Ipswich, Suffolk. It is possible that he was the Joan Crane baptized on 24 January 1572, the child of ...

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Dant, Joan (1631–1715), pedlar and benefactor, was the wife of a weaver in New Paternoster Row, Spitalfields, London, but little else is known about her early life. She had a half-brother called John Allen.

Left facing destitution on her husband's early death, Joan...

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Fishborne, Richard (1562?–1625), mercer and philanthropist, was born in Huntingdon of unknown parentage. Local legends about his origins vary; one account quotes a baptism entry for Richard son of John Fishborne in January 1562 in the village of Godmanchester, outside Huntingdon, although surviving ...

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Gillespie, James, of Spylaw (1726–1797), tobacconist and benefactor, was born in 1726, probably at Roslin, near Edinburgh. He had one sister and a younger brother. His family were members of the Cameronians, or reformed Presbyterians, a strict nonconformist sect. Gillespie began his career as a tobacconist and, in partnership with his brother, ...

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Goodchild, John (1697–1756), linen draper and philanthropic society administrator, was born early in the year 1697. Nothing is recorded of his parents but he had a brother Thomas who was a purveyor of dairy produce to the royal household. John Goodchild was described as a gentleman of the parish of ...

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Warren Stormes Hale (1791–1872) by John Robert Dicksee, 1853 Guildhall Art Gallery, Corporation of London

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Hale, Warren Stormes (1791–1872), tallow chandler and benefactor, was born on 2 February 1791 at Benington, Hertfordshire, the youngest of eight children of Edward Hale (1754–1791), farmer, and his wife, Edith, née Warren (1750–1808). Before he was a year old his father died, and in 1805 ...

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Heylyn, Rowland (1562–1632), ironmonger and church benefactor, was born in Shrewsbury, the son of David Heylyn, who was of Welsh ancestry, and his wife, Alice. After attending the free school there from 1571 he went to London, where in 1576 he became an apprentice ironmonger. He was admitted to the company in 1584 and subsequently served twice as its master, in 1614 and 1625. Elected an alderman from ...

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Norman Moore

revised by Christine Clark

Kenton, Benjamin (1719–1800), wine merchant and philanthropist, was born on 19 November 1719 at Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, the son of Benjamin Kenton and his wife, Mary, who kept a small greengrocer's shop. He was educated at the parish charity school and at fifteen he was apprenticed to the landlord of the ...

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Lamb, Thomas (d. 1686), linen draper and philanthropist, was for many years confused with a namesake, a soap-boiler by trade: remarkably, both men were prominent General Baptists. The overwhelming evidence that they were not the same individual includes a petition subscribed in 1656 by two ...

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Lewis, John Spedan (1885–1963), department store owner and industrial reformer, was born in Marylebone, London, on 22 September 1885, the elder son of John Lewis (1836–1928), a Somerset draper who from 1864 built up a successful retail business in Oxford Street, and his wife, ...

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George Stronach

revised by Maureen Donovan Lochrie

Neilson, John (1778–1839), grocer and benefactor, was born on 14 December 1778 in Paisley, Renfrewshire, the second son in a family of five children of John Neilson, merchant and grocer of Paisley Cross, and his wife, Elizabeth née Sclater of Paisley. He was probably educated at ...

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Alan John Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury (1902–1998) by Walter Bird, 1963 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sainsbury, Alan John, Baron Sainsbury (1902–1998), food retailer and supporter of consumer rights, was born at 14 Avenue Road, Crouch End, London, on 13 August 1902, the elder son of John Benjamin Sainsbury (1871–1956) [see under Sainsbury (1869–1956)] and his wife, ...

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Sainsbury, Simon David Davan (1930–2006), businessman and philanthropist, was born on 1 March 1930 at 27 The Vale, Chelsea, London, the second of three sons of Alan John Sainsbury, later Baron Sainsbury (1902–1998), grocer and businessman, and his first wife, Doreen Davan, née...

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Marcus Joseph Sieff, Baron Sieff of Brimpton (1913–2001) by Ronald B. Kitaj, 1985 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sieff, Marcus Joseph, Baron Sieff of Brimpton (1913–2001), retailer, was born on 2 July 1913 at 8 Belfield Road, Didsbury, Manchester, the younger surviving son and second of three surviving children of Israel Moses Sieff, Baron Sieff (1889–1972), and his wife, Rebecca Dora, ...

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Smith, (William) Frederick Danvers, second Viscount Hambleden (1868–1928), newsagent and hospital reformer, was born at Filey, Yorkshire, on 12 August 1868, the only surviving son and youngest of the six children of William Henry Smith (1825–1891), newsagent and politician, and his wife, Emily Leach, ...

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