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Residences Of Deceased Celebrities—Question

Volume 172: debated on Friday 17 July 1863

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said, he rose to ask the First Commissioner of Works, Whether, through the agency of the Metropolitan Board of Works, or otherwise, it may be practicable to have inscribed on those houses in London which have been in habited by celebrated persons, the names of such persons. The places which had been the residences of the ornaments of their history could not but be precious to all thinking Englishmen; and when he reminded the House how rich the metropolis was in such associations, he thought they would agree with him that it was desirable some record should be placed upon the respective localities. Thus, Milton lived in a garden-house in Petty France, now No. 19, York Street, Westminster; Newton's house in St. Martin's Street, south side of Leicester Square, was now an hotel; Dryden died at No. 43, Gerard Street; Prior lived in Duke Street, Westminster; Sir Joshua Reynolds lived in the centre of the west side of Leicester Square; Hogarth lived in part of the Sablonièrre hotel; Flaxman at 7, Buckingham Street, Fitzroy Square—his studio was still there; Dr. Johnson died at 8, Bolt Court, Fleet Street; Goldsmith at 2, Brick Court, Temple; Gibbon at No. 7, Bentinck Street; Garrick at the centre house, Adelphi Terrace; the great Duke of Marlborough died in Marlborough House; Lord Somers's house was still in Lincoln's Inn Fields; Lord Mansfield lived in King's Bench Walk; Samuel Rogers lived in St. James's Place, and Lord Macaulay in the Albany. Other nations were in the habit of preserving memorials of their great men, and there was no reason why we should not follow their example. In what way it should be done it was not for him to prescribe, although he had made a suggestion in his Question; but at least he hoped that the few remarks he had made would have the effect of calling attention to the subject.

said, he thought that as much interest was felt in England for departed greatness as in other countries. He agreed with his hon. Friend in thinking that it would be desirable that they should be able to recognise the spots where persons of eminence and fame had resided. The matter might fall within the functions of the Metropolitan Board of Works, but still it was the right of the owner or occupier of a house to write upon it what he pleased, and it might not be desirable to compel a man to place upon his house the name of a person who did not then live there. Some persons liked to put their own names on a brass plate upon their doors, and might not wish to have the name of an eminent departed person also there. Some owners, too, might object to having the antiquity of their houses so prominently revealed, especially if they were thinking of selling them. If those difficulties could be got over, it would, no doubt, be gratifying to the public to be able to identify the houses in which such men as Newton and Reynolds had lived.