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Nathaniel Bacon. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-91133).

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Bacon, Nathaniel (1647–26 October 1676), leader of colonial rebellion, was born in Suffolk County, England, the son of Thomas Bacon, a landed proprietor, and Elizabeth Brooke. His tutor, John Ray, with whom he shared a European grand tour, described him as a young gentleman of “very good parts, and a quick wit,” but “impatient of labour, and indeed his temper will not admit long study.” A dark side was always present in Bacon’s background, as is clear from the fact that when he married Elizabeth Duke, daughter of Sir Edward Duke of Benhall, that gentleman was so angered that he disinherited his daughter and never spoke to her again. Bacon and his wife would have one child. After Bacon became involved in a scheme to defraud a neighboring youth, his father packed him off on a tobacco ship to Virginia where his cousin, Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., served as one of the king’s councilors of state....

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Clarke, Parker (03 April 1748–25 March 1823), surgeon and soldier, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Clarke and Lydia Phillips. In 1769 he married Judith Lunt; they had three sons. After obtaining some medical training in New England, Clarke immigrated to Cumberland Township on the Isthmus of Chignecto in Nova Scotia. By 1770 he was living in Fort Lawrence, where he farmed and practiced medicine as a prominent member of the New England planter community, which by then formed the majority of the population on the isthmus and throughout Nova Scotia....

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Coode, John (1648–between 27 Feb and 28 Mar. 1709), one of the most colorful and persistent rebels in American colonial history, was born in Penryn, Cornwall, the second son of John Coode, a lawyer, and Grace Robins. Coode matriculated at age sixteen at Exeter College, Oxford. He was ordained as a deacon in July 1668 and later claimed ordination as a priest. Coode served briefly in a chapel under the vicar of St. Gluveas in Cornwall before being turned out of the ministry for unspecified reasons. By early 1672, Coode was in Maryland, first settling in St. George’s Hundred where he officiated as a minister on several occasions. Two years later he moved to St. Clement’s Hundred after marrying Susannah Slye, the recent widow of a wealthy merchant, Robert Slye, and the daughter of Catholic Thomas Gerard, a powerful landholder and opponent of the proprietary family. At least fifteen years older than Coode, Susannah was subject to periodic fits of madness exacerbated by the recent deaths of a son, her first husband, and her father. Marriage provided Coode a measure of financial security through his management of the estate Robert Slye had left for his children. Coode devoted considerable attention during the next few years to law suits and other measures to build upon these holdings and to acquire land and wealth of his own....

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Culpeper, John (1644–1693), proprietary official and rebellion leader, first appears in the records of Barbados in 1663 when at age nineteen he wrote the will of a neighbor and served as the overseer of his estate. The same document also mentions a Margaret Culpeper, who was surely related to him. By February 1671 Culpeper had arrived in southern Carolina with a slave, and at the end of the year his wife, Judith, joined him, accompanied by a woman servant. Within a month of his arrival in Charles Town, the able Culpeper had replaced the inadequate surveyor of the province. His extant map of Charles Town was the first accurate plat of the settlement. A year later his commission from the lords proprietor as surveyor general, dated 30 December 1671, was received about the time he was elected to the provincial assembly. By the end of 1672, in addition to his 2-acre town lot where he was residing, Culpeper was granted a 370-acre plantation....

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Ely, Samuel Cullick (06 November 1740–1795?), clergyman and political agitator, was born in North Lyme, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Ely, a justice of the peace, and Hannah Marsh. After attending Yale University (A.B. 1764; A.M. 1767), Ely served briefly as minister in both Somers and New London, Connecticut, before he was found lacking “the most essential Quallifications to a Gospel Minister.” Even then he possessed, in the words of ...

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Faulkner, Thomas (1743–07 July 1803), soldier, was born in New England, the son of Edward Faulkner and Martha Stewart. Faulkner immigrated to Nova Scotia in the early 1760s, settling in the Cobequid district on the north shore of Minas Basin. This prosperous farming district included the townships of Truro, Onslow, and Londonderry, and it had a population, primarily composed of New Englanders of Scotch-Irish background, that amounted to perhaps 1,000 people in 1775. Noted for its antipathy to the central government at Halifax, Cobequid was characteristically in the forefront of political opposition to Governor Francis Legge’s militia legislation of late 1775. This legislation imposed a tax to support the militia, a portion of which would be drawn from outlying districts to defend the capital of Halifax....

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Fries, John (1750– February 1818), vendue crier and leader of the Fries Rebellion of 1799, was born in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the son of Simon Fries, a Welsh immigrant to Maryland whose occupation is unknown. Nothing is known of his mother. Fries was apprenticed to the coopering trade as a youth. During that time he learned to read, write, and perform simple arithmetic. Living in a predominantly German region, Fries, an English speaker, acquired the German language as well. In 1770 he married Margaret Brunner; they had ten children. In 1775 he and his family moved to Lower Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where they rented a log cabin and a small piece of land. There Fries left the coopering trade and began calling public auctions for a living. He was a natural for this position as a literate, bilingual man living in a region dominated politically by English speakers and populated mostly by Pennsylvania Dutch. He quickly gained the respect of the Anglo and German-American communities in his own township and in the bordering counties of Northampton and Montgomery....

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Girty, Simon (1741–18 February 1818), British Loyalist and frontier warrior, was born near Harrisburg in colonial Pennsylvania, the son of farmers. One of at least four children born to Simon Girty and Mary Newton, young Simon was raised in modest circumstances. He received no formal education and remained illiterate. When only ten years of age, his father was killed by an Indian. Girty later maintained that his stepfather met a similar fate. In the course of the French and Indian War, Simon was captured by the Seneca and held captive for thirty-six months. During his captivity, Girty became familiar with the language of his captors....

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Ingle, Richard (1609–1653), pirate and rebel, was born possibly in Redriff, Surrey, England, the son of unknown parents. Virtually nothing is known of his early life before he appeared in the colony of Maryland shortly after its 1634 founding. His first known occupation was that of ship captain and tobacco merchant, and his first definite appearance in the historical record was in March 1642, when he transported Captain Thomas Cornwallis, a member of the original colony council, from England on the ship ...

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Shays, Daniel (1747?–29 September 1825), revolutionary officer and leader of the eponymous "Rebellion" of 1786-1787 in western Massachusetts, revolutionary officer and leader of the eponymous “Rebellion” of 1786–1787 in western Massachusetts, was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the son of Patrick Shays (or Shay or Sheas) and Margaret Dempsey. While working as a hired laborer in Brookfield he married Abigail Gilbert in July 1772. He then moved to Shutesbury where he purchased a farm shortly before the war. In 1780 he moved to Pelham, Hampshire County, where he was a middling farmer until driven from Massachusetts in the wake of the rebellion in 1787....

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Whipple, Prince (fl. 1776–1783), revolutionary war soldier, was born to unknown parents in Amabou, Africa. When Whipple was about ten, his parents sent him to America with either a brother or cousin, ostensibly to be educated in the manner of Prince’s older brother, who had returned from America four years before. Unfortunately, the captain of the ship on which the two boys traveled diverted to Baltimore, Maryland, and sold them into slavery instead....

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Youngs, John (baptized 10 Apr. 1623–12 April 1698), political agitator and public official, was born at Southwold, England, the son of John Youngs, a Puritan minister, and Joan Herrington. Although forbidden to leave England in May 1637, the elder Youngs was in Salem, Massachusetts, with his family in December of that year and in the New Haven colony in 1638; in 1640 he founded the town of Southold at the east end of Long Island. The younger John Youngs acquired and developed land throughout Southold. In 1653 he married his stepsister, Mary Gardner, and they had five children. She died in 1689, and about 1691 he married Hannah (Wines) Tooker, a widow....