17th Century

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Bach, Johann Sebastian
Bach was born in Eisenach, the eighth and last child of Johann Ambrosius and Maria Elisabeth Bach. His mother died in 1694 and his father in 1695. The nine-year-old orphan and his brother ... [more]

Bartram, John
Bartram, born to a Quaker family in Pennsylvania, was orphaned when he was 13. He taught himself botany, medicine and surgery while working as a farm laborer. He was appointed Botanist to... [more]

Bradford, William
Bradford was born into a well-off family in Yorkshire, but his father died in 1591. His mother remarried in 1593 and William was then raised by his grandfather and uncles as a farmer... [more]

Cardozo, Abraham
Cardozo was a member of a Portuguese Marrano family. (The Marranos are the Jews of Spain and Portugal who involuntarily converted to Christianity in the 14th century and later, many of whom... [more]

Catherine I
Marta Skavronskaya was born a peasant in what is now Latvia, orphaned when three years old and fostered by a Lutheran pastor named Glück. In 1702 she was taken prisoner during a war with... [more]

Child Migrants
These are the children sent from Britain and Ireland to colonies and former colonies with the express intention of helping to culturally swamp the native peoples by increasing the white pop... [more]

Cockenoe
Cockenoe was an Algonquian Indian, captured as a youth by the British (in 1636 or 1637). He became a servant of a British officer, Richard Collicot, where he came to the notice of John... [more]

Colden, Cadwallader
Colden was born in Ireland and after graduating from the University of Edinburgh (1705) he emigrated to the American colonies (1710). He spent the next half century in the colonial civil ... [more]

Martín de Porres
Born in Lima, there are two versions of his early life. In one, he was the son of an unknown father and a free African-Peruvian mother, adopted when he was eight by ... [more]

de Rossi, Giovanni Battista
De Rossi was born into a happy country family in Voltaggio, near Genoa. When he was 10 a wealthy Genoese couple, who had become enchanted by the boy on their holidays, persuaded his parents... [more]

Gay, John
Gay was raised by his uncle after his parents died in 1694 and 1695. His career was erratic - some of his work was very popular during his lifetime (the Beggar's Opera and the libretto for... [more]

Gülnüs Ummetüllah
Gülnüs Ummetüllah was born on the Greek island of Crete about 1640. In 1645 Turkey invaded the island and she was captured and sent back to Istanbul. When she was older she became the favor... [more]

Hale, Matthew
Hale was orphaned by the age of five and fostered by Anthony Kingscote. He had no interest in the law until 1628, when he began to study intensively. He was called to the bar in 1637 and... [more]

Janissaries
These were members of the elite infantry of the Turkish sultans in the middle ages. For part of their history, starting in the 1380s under Sultan Murad I, until 1638, they were recruited... [more]

Jones, Frederick McKinley
McKinley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and orphaned as a young child. He was then raised by a priest in Kentucky until he was 16. He worked as a pinsetter in a bowling alley and then became... [more]

Kano Sanraku
Sanraku was the last of the great Momoyama decorative painters of Japan, head of the Kano school of painting in Kyoto from 1614 on, and the adopted son of Eitoku, another great artist. He... [more]

Kano Sansetsu
Sansetsu was raised by the colony of Kano artists in Kyoto, and later adopted by the master Kano Sanraku , whose daughter he also married. He was leader of the Kano school from 1635 to his... [more]

Kepler, Johannes
Kepler was born in Weil der Stadt, Swabia. His father was a merchant who went as a mercenary soldier to fight in the Spanish Netherlands when he was two. His mother was the daughter of an... [more]

Mantegna, Andrea
Mantegna was adopted as a child about 10 years old by the painter Francesco Squarcione. He was the most famous painter of his day in Padua and was one of the first Italians to use copper... [more]
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