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Then comes that good old character, a Wife,
Sam. Rogers, Verses spoken by Mrs. Siddons, April 27, 1795. Although less fashionably inhabited than when first built, Portland Place still numbers among its occupants peers, baronets, judges and privy councillors. The bronze statue of the Duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria, in Park Crescent, at the north end of Portland Place, was designed and cast by Gahagan. Park Crescent was called, in 1816, by Nash the architect, "the key to Marylebone Park.” 1
Eminent Inhabitants.-General Sir Henry Clinton. In 1788 his daughter eloped from this street in a hackney-coach with Mr. Dawkins, who eluded pursuit by posting half a dozen other hackney-coaches at the corners of the streets leading into Portland Place, with directions to drive off as rapidly as possible, each in a different direction, directly that started in which he and the lady were. Horace Walpole wrote to Pennant from No. 5 Portland Place. At No. 25 Sir Alan Gardner was living in 1796 and 1811. James Monroe, when American Ambassador (1807), lived at No. 23. Talleyrand lived at No. 51. John Holroyd Lord Sheffield, the friend of Gibbon, and editor of his Miscellaneous Writings, died at his house, No. 20, May 30, 1821. Sir Humphry Davy was married, April 11, 1812, to Mrs. Apreece. The ceremony was performed at her mother's house in Portland Place by the Bishop of Carlisle. At No. 63, the house of Sir Ralph Milbanke, Lord Byron made love to his future wife, Miss Milbanke. At No. 2, the house of Henry Browne, F.R.S. (it is situated 51° 31' 8".4 N. Lat.), were made the original and important experiments of Captain Kater, for determining the length of the seconds pendulum, and somewhat later Sabine's elaborate observations for determining the oscillation of the pendulum in different latitudes—both sets of experiments being made with Mr. Browne's instruments and with his assistance.3 Lord Radstock, one of the most distinguished admirals in the Great War, resided for many years in No. 10, and there died, August 20, 1825. Mark Wilks at No. 9. Lord Chief Justice Denman at No. 38. Charles Theophilus, first and last Lord Metcalfe, passed his boyhood in No. 49, the house of his father, the East India Director.
i Portland Street (Great), OXFORD STREET, is now the name of
the whole line of road between Oxford Street and the Euston Road, east of and parallel to Portland Place, but was originally confined to the portion between Margaret Street and Mortimer Street. South of the former it was John Street, and north of the latter Portland Road.
1 Second Report of Woods and Forests, p. 113. ? There is a clever account of the elopement in the Buckland Correspondence, vol. i. p. 467.
3 Philosophical Trans., 1818, 1821.
This last name is preserved in the Portland Road Station of the Metropolitan Railway at the corner of the Euston Road.
Eminent Inhabitants.—William Guthrie, author of Guthrie's Grammar, etc., died here, March 9, 1770. Richard Wilson, the landscape Painter, "at the corner of Foley Place.” i Joseph Wilton, R.A., sculptor, “occupied the large house, Foley Place, at the south-east corner of Great Portland Street.” 2 William Seward, author of Seward's Anecdotes, lived at No. 40.3 James Boswell, the biographer of Johnson, died in 1795 at No. 47.4 Carl Maria von Weber, composer of “Der Freischutz," died in Sir George Smart's house, No. 91 (now 103), June 5, 1826. No. 65 was the residence of John Jones, the engraver of the portraits of Charles James Fox, and many other fine works of Reynolds and of Romney; and father of the late Richard Jones, R.A. Sir David Wilkie was living at No. 84 in 1808-1809. William Collins, R.A., at No. 118 in 1810. Leigh Hunt at No. 35 in 1812. Joshua Brookes, the great surgeon, died at his house in Great Portland Street, January 30, 1833. On the west side (No. 131, etc.) is the Jewish Central Synagogue, a spacious building of Portland and red Mansfield stone, Oriental in style, with a tall campanile, erected from the designs of Mr. N. S. Joseph, and consecrated with great solemnity by Dr. Adler, the Chief Rabbi, April 7, 1870. The interior, which is very lofty, and fitted up in a rich and costly manner, is very striking.
Portman Square, between Orchard Street, Oxford Street, and Baker Street, was so called after William Henry Portman, Esq., of Orchard - Portman, in Somersetshire (d. 1796), the proprietor of an estate in Marylebone, of about 270 acres, formerly the property of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, and described in a lease granted by the last prior of the knights of St. John as “Great Gibbet Field (see Tyburn), Little Gibbet Field, Hawkfield, and Brock Stand, Tassel Croft, Boy's Croft, and twenty acres Fursecroft, and two closes called Shepcott Haws, parcel of the manor of Lilestone (see Lisson Green], in the county of Middlesex.” The present proprietor of the estate is Lord Portman.
Portman Square was begun about 1764, when the north side of the square was built ; but it was twenty years before the whole was finished. -- Lysons, vol. iii. p. 257. In Espriella's Letters (1807) Southey describes this square as “on the outskirts of the town,” and approached “on one side by a road, unlit, unpaved, and inaccessible by carriages.” The house in the north-west angle of the square (properly No. 1 Upper Berkeley Street) was designed, 1760, by James “Athenian ” Stuart for Mrs. Montagu, authoress of the Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespeare. Here she had her public breakfasts, her Blue-stocking parties; here, on May-day, she
1 Wright's Life of Wilson, p. 5.
4 Letter from Mrs. Ogborne, of Great Portland Street, to the late John Thomas Smith, preserved in Mr. Murray's Johnson Collections.
used to entertain the chimney-sweeps of London; and here she died, August 25, 1800.
November 12, 1781.-Mrs. Montagu is very busy furnishing her new house ; part of her family is removed into it.-Mrs. Boscawen, Delaney, vol. vi. p. 65; and see p. 76.
When Summer comes the bells shall ring, and flowers and hawthorns blow,
W. L. Bowles, Climbing Boys' Album, p. 347. No. 12 (since numbered 15), was the Duke of Hamilton's, and here were some of the finest of William Beckford's pictures, removed by the duke, who was his son-in-law, from the house in which Beckford died, at Bath. No. 26 was Lady Garvagh's, where was the famous Aldobrandini Madonna of Raphael, now in the National Gallery.
Portsmouth Street, Lincoln's Inn FIELDS. The Black Jack public-house, No. 11 in this street, was a favourite house of Joe Miller, Joe died in 1738, and the first edition of the Jests, which have rendered his name famous, was published the following year, "price one shilling." The Black Jack was long distinguished as “The Jump,” from Jack Sheppard having once jumped from one of its first-floor windows to escape the emissaries of Jonathan Wild. No. 14 is said to be the original of Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop, but there is not sufficient authority for this statement.
Portsoken, one of the twenty-six wards of London, deriving its name from the “soc” or “soke” (the liberty, or separate jurisdiction), without the “port” or gate called Aldgate. This ward is without the walls, but within the liberties of the City.
In the days of King Edgar there were thirteen Knights or Soldiers, well-beloved to the King and realm, for service by them done, which requested to have a certain portion of land on the east part of the city, left desolate and forsaken by the inhabitants, by reason of too much servitude. They besought the King to have this land, with the liberty of a guild, for ever. The King granted to their request, with conditions following: that is, that each of them should victoriously accomplish three combats, one above the ground, one under ground, and the third in the water ; and after this, at a certain day in East Smithfield, they should run with spears against all comers; all which was gloriously performed, and the same day the King named it Knighten Guild.--Stow, p. 46. The “knightenguild” was held by the heirs of the thirteen knights till the reign of Henry I., when (A.D. 1115) the men of the guild taking upon them the brotherhood and benefits of the newly established priory of the Holy Trinity, within Aldgate, assigned their “soke” to the prior, and offered, upon the altars of the church, the several charters of their guild. Henry I. confirmed the gift, and the prior was made an alderman of London : an honour continued to his successors till the Dissolution, when the church was surrendered and the site of the priory granted by Henry VIII. to Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor. [See Duke's Place. After the Dissolution the
inhabitants of Knightenguild or Portsoken elected an alderman of their own—a privilege they enjoy to this day. The name survives (corruptly) in Nightingale Lane. The principal places in the ward are Aldgate, Houndsditch, Petticoat Lane (now Middlesex Street), and the Minories.
Portugal Row, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, the old name of the south side of the present Lincoln's Inn Fields; built 1657, by Sir William Cowper, Robert Henley, and James Cowper, and known as Portugal Row, before the marriage of Charles II. to Catherine of Portugal. In 1668 it was inhabited by the following persons :
The Lady Arden ; Wm. Perpoint, Esq.; Sir Charles Waldegrave; The Lady Fitzharding ; The Lady Diana Curzon ; Serjeant Maynard ; The Lord Cardigan;
Neale, Esq. ; Mrs. Ann Heron ; Deane, Esq. ; The Lady Mordant; Richard Adams, Esq.; The Lady Carr; The Lady Wentworth ; Mr. Attorney Montague ; The Lady Coventry ; Judge Weld; The Lady Davenant.2 Sir John Maynard, the celebrated lawyer, who was living here till his death in 1690, will long be remembered for his memorable reply to William III. Lord Cardigan was the father of the infamous Countess of Shrewsbury. Sir William Davenant had “lodgings” here, says Aubrey, and here he died, April 7, 1668. “I was at his funeral : he had a coffin of walnut tree: Sir John Denham said that it was the finest coffin he ever saw.” The Lady Davenant was the widow of Sir William. Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (d. 1680), lived here. “If you write to me you must direct to Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, the house next to the Duke's Playhouse in Portugal Row; there lives your humble servant, ROCHESTER.” 3 On the site of what is now a part of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons stood the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre.
This landscape of the sea—(but, by the way,
Behind the Row which men call Portugal. --Sir William Davenant, Epilogue to the Playhouse to be Let ; see also Davenant's Works, p. 74. Portugal Street, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS—from Serle Street to Portsmouth Street—was so called when Portugal Row, or the south side of Lincoln's Inn Fields ceased to be known by that name. In Strype's time it was without a name. He proposed to call it Playhouse Street.4 In the burying-ground immediately opposite, belonging to St. Clement's Danes [which see], Joe Miller (“Joe Miller's Jests”) is buried (d. 1738). The site is occupied by King's College Hospital (which see]. Here also is the High Court of Justice in Bankruptcy. Here was till a few years back the Grange public-house, with its old picturesque inn yard.
1 "These priors have sitten and ridden amongst the aldermen of London, in livery like unto them,
2 Rate-books of St. Clement's Danes. saving that his habit was in shape of a spiritual 3 Wharton's Works. person, as I myself have seen in my childhood."
4 Strype, B. iv. p. 119. Stow, p. 53.
Housekeeper. The poet has a special train behind him ; though they look lean and empty, yet they seem very full of invention.
Player. Let him enter, and send his train to our House Inn the Grange.-Sir William Davenant, The Playhouse to be Let.
Portugal Street, the old name for part of PICCADILLY; so called after Catherine of Portugal, Queen of Charles II. Portugal Street is entered in the Rate-books of St. Martin's, for the first time, under the year 1664, when the north side extended as far as Air Street. The south side was built in 1665. In 1671 it extended as far as Sackville Street, and in 1686 to Dover Street, then but newly built.
Post Office (The), ST. MARTIN'S-LE-GRAND. Although now of such immense importance to our national welfare, the English Post Office cannot be traced back through more than about 300 years of our history. Before this time the King and the nobles sent their letters by private messengers or “nuncii," whilst the commonalty, travelling little, had small need of correspondence. The merchants of the Hanse Towns have the reputation of being the first to establish a regular European letter post; and in England, although Henry VIII. paid attention to the official post, the foreign post remained for some years in the hands of the foreigners who had established it. It was on the occasion of a dispute between them as to the electing of a postmaster that James I. stepped in and appointed a Postmaster of England for foreign parts, who was to have “the sole taking up, sending, and conveying of all packets and letters concerning our service or business to be despatched to foreign parts,” others being forbidden to convey letters, etc. ; and since that time the business of the Post Office has remained a Government monopoly. In the reign of James I. the total annual payment for the staff of the Post Office was only £255:5:10. In 1635 a proclamation was issued “for settling the letter office of England and Scotland,” in which it is enacted that there shall be “a running post or two, to run night and day, between Edinburgh and Scotland and the City of London, to go thither and come back in six days.” In 1644 Edmund Prideaux, Esq., M.P., first established a weekly conveyance of letters to all parts of the nation. An Act of Parliament passed in 1656 " to settle the postage of England, Scotland and Ireland,” is the real foundation of our postal system. This Act orders the “erecting of one general post office and one officer stiled the Postmaster-General of England and Comptroller of the Post Office." This Act was re-enacted 12 Car. II., C. 35, and it has been called the Post Office Charter, remaining in full force until 1710. In 1663, when the carriage of letters had become a source of income, the revenues were settled on James, Duke of York, afterwards James II.
This Conveyance by post is done in so short a time by night as well as by day that every twenty-four hours the Post goes 120 miles and in five days an Answer of a Letter may be had from a place 300 miles distant from the writer.-Delaune, Present State of London, 1681, p. 346.