CHAPTER 10: LXXXIX—No. 10 DOWNING STREET
The house is the freehold of the Crown, and is used as the official
residence of the First Lord of H.M. Treasury.
History of the Building.
No. 10, Downing Street stands party on the site of the garden
of Hampden House, but in part occupies the site of the westernmost
portion of the Duke of Albemarle's premises as shown on the plan
On the death of Albemarle in that year the latter side seems to have
passed into the possession of the Duke of Buckingham, whose premises are
shown on the plan (Plate 37) accompanying the grant to the Earl of Danby
as occupying the required position. In March, 1670–1, occurs the first (fn. 1)
of several records entitled: "Charges in pulling downe & Altering severall
Roomes at ye Cockepitt for his Grace the Duke of Buckingham." The
existing premises, which are described as "ye outer lodgings next ye parke"
and the gallery between them and the Cockpit playhouse, seem to have been
for the most part demolished. In May—June, 1671, there are references (fn. 2)
to "doeing the foundation for the wall of the backe parte of the new brick
building," and "building parte of ye Bricke walls and chimneyes"; and
in October—November (fn. 3) to "Covering wth lead ye Cantalaver Eaves and all
ye hipps of ye roofe of ye new building," and to the fixing of "21 squares
and 56 foote of Roofeing … 167 foote of lintelling … 10 oken
Mantletrees and tassells … 74 window lights … 8 lucerne windowes
… 106 fot of Cantalaver Eaves … two Architrave doorecases and
battened doores with two lights over each of them." The works seem to have
continued until April, 1673. (fn. 4)
Danckerts' View (Plate 2) shows in the required position a building,
obviously new, (fn. 5) occupying much the same situation as that represented in
the plan of 1670, and, like it, running from north to south. It cannot, however, without great difficulty be identified with that building, as the elevation
is uniformly level, without any of the projections (probably marking the
characteristic bay windows of a Tudor building) shown on the plan. Moreover, the fact that the same building is shown in the painting belonging to
Mary, Countess of Ilchester (Plate 3), which cannot be earlier than 1674,
necessitates the conclusion that the building is that erected in 1671–3. (fn. 6)
This house had a very brief existence. On 31st May, 1677, the
King granted (fn. 7) to Walter St. John and others "all that peice … of Ground
with the Buildings thereupon Within our Parke called St. James Parke …
bounded Eastward with the Buildings of the Cockpitt, Southward with the
Wall of Hampden Garden, Northward one hundred and forty foote in length
to the said Parke, Westward eighty five foote in length to the Parke." The
grant was to Sir Walter St. John, Sir Ralph Verney, Sir Richard Howe and
John Cary, and was for 99 years "if our Right Trusty … Cousin, Edward
Henry, Earle of Litchfield, Dame Charlotte his Wife and Dame Elizabeth
Bertie, (fn. 8) one of the Daughters of our Right Trusty … Cousin and Councellour, Robert, Earle of Lindsey, our Great Chamberlaine of England, or
any of them shall soe long happen to live." It is evident that Sir Walter
St. John and the rest were trustees for the Earl and Countess of Lichfield.
The plan dated 10th April, 1677, accompanying the grant, is reproduced on
p.114. It will be noticed that the grant contains no reference to Buckingham,
but the fact that it included the site of his house is evident from the plan
given in Plate I, where the property granted in 1677 is marked by blue lines,
while the earlier buildings are shown in black. It is, moreover, confirmed
by the petition from Thomas Duppa asking for payment in respect of "orders
& Commands about ye Dutchesse of Buckinhams Lodgings at ye Cockpitt for
ye Lady litchfields use." (fn. 9)
Plan of premises granted to the Earl and Countess of Lichfield in 1677.
from plan reproduced in Vol. I of the London Topographical Record.
Buildings on the site of the Cockpit and 10, Downing Street, circa 1720.
It will be seen that the buildings indicated on the plan reproduced
on p.114 differed markedly in site and lay-out from those previously existing.
In perticular whereas both Albemarle's "outer lodgings" and Buckingham's
house ran from north to south, the main body of these buildings ran from
east to west. To a very large extent, therefore, these buildings must have
been quite new. No definite record of the demolition of the 1671–3 house
has been discovered, though an indirect reference occurs in an account of
decoration works undertaken "at ye Countess of Litchfields" in March,
1676—7 which mentions "ye first story of Ye new Building," and also "ye
staircase in ye old building." (fn. 10) At any rate, whatever may have been the
reason for its destruction, (fn. 11) the building of 1671–3 had practically disappeared
by the begining of 1677.
In a view (reproduced on p. 115) of the house about 1720 the range of
eleven windows and doorway on the north front corresponds with the indications of the plan of 1677, and the break in the frontage shown in the plan
between the fourth and fifth windows from the left is also represented in the
view. We may thus be reasonably certain that the building shown in the
view is that which was already in existence in 1677, when it was granted to
the Earl and Countess of Lichfield. It may be observed that the representation of the extreme eastern portion of the premises, given in the picture
ascribed to Thomas Van Wyck (Plate 4), is entirely in accordance with the
view reproduced above.
In the Historical Notes (p. 128) it is shown that the house in 1690 passed
into the possession of Lord and Lady Overkirk. On the death of the latter in
January, 1720, it was resumed by the Crown (fn. 12) and appointed for the residence
of Count Bothmar. An expenditure of £1,200 was authorised for fitting up the
house for the count, and in the two following years expenditure of £1,050, (fn. 13)
and £272 (fn. 14) was found necessary. In 1730 the count presented a memorial (fn. 15)
to the Lords Commissioners of H.M. Treasury, complaining of "the
ruinous Condition of the premises." An order for the necessary work
to be done was given on 15th July, 1730, but as the estimate was
only £280, it would seem that the count's fears were somewhat exaggerated.
Bothmar died in 1732, and the ratebook for the same year shows
Sir Robert Walpole in occupation. (fn. 16) From the constant later references
to the house as "rebuilt" or "repaired or rebuilt," it might be concluded
that the works (entrusted to Kent) (fn. 17) carried out for Walpole were extensive.
This presumption is confirmed by a set of drawings showing the house as
altered for Walpole, and contained in a scrapbook said to have belonged
to Horace Walpole and now preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York. The set comprises a plan of the ground floor, and developed
sketch elevations of the walls to seven of the rooms on that floor and the
floor above. A comparison of the plan (Plate 147) with that of 1677 (p. 114)
shows that, while the outer walls remained substantially untouched, internal
alterations were effected by the removal of the numerous staircases and
the substitution of a new main staircase on the southern side, while a large
central room was formed in the front, and another on the eastern side.
The small back room on the west of the stairs is shown as on the 1677
plan, but was before 1781 (see Plate 111) merged in the adjacent lobby
The developed sketch elevations of the walls of the main rooms (fn. 18)
(Plates 148 to 154) are very interesting. The subjects of the pictures on
the walls are given, together with the names of the artists. The various
mantelpieces are also sketched, and it is possible to identify them with
those in the present rooms. From these considerations it appears:
(i) That Sir Robert Walpole's Levée Room corresponds with
(a) that part of the Cabinet Room behind the screen, and (b) Secretary's
(ii) That Sir Robert Walpole's Dressing Room is now Secretary's
(iii) and (iv) That the Parlour is now Secretary's Room C, and
that the bed-chamber on the floor above "in which Mrs. Skerrit, Ly. Walpole, died" (fn. 19) is now the Prime Minister's Bedroom.
(v) and (vi) That Lady Walpole's Dining Room is now the small
Drawing Room and Lady Walpole's Drawing Room is the Boudoir.
Certain minor alterations in the position of fireplaces and doors are
A view of the premises circa 1754 is here reproduced, and a comparison of this with the view of 1720 (p. 115) suggests that the north
front was considerably altered at this time, and that the works included
the construction of a pediment to the central portion. This pediment is
shown in other views before 1781.
Kent's Treasury and No. 10, Downing Street, circa 1754.
At the same time the house was enlarged by the addition of certain
buildings in Downing Street, also shown on the ground-floor plan (Plate
147), and we now proceed to the history of these premises.
Of the buildings which were erected in Downing Street on the site
of Hampden House, four are particularly referred to in Sir George Downing's
will as "all those foure greate houses, being parcell of the premises held of
the Crowne, fronting Saint James Parke West and North." These may be
identified as follows (fn. 20) :— (i) a house (afterwards No. 14) to the south of the
present No. 12, (ii) a house on the site of the present No. 12, (iii) a house
occupying the greater portion of the site of the present No. 11 (fn. 21) , and (iv)
"the Great House," occupying the remainder of the site of No. 11 and the
greater part of the site of the Downing Street portion of No. 10. (fn. 22) The
remainder of the site of the Downing Street part of No. 10 was occupied by
a small house.
In 1722 the original building leases ran out, and fresh leases of the
four large houses were granted. (fn. 23) The Great House was divided. On 15th
September, 1722, Charles Downing demised (fn. 24) to Henry Cornwall the
eastern portion of the house, as well as the small house adjoining it, for
38 years, for the erection of stabling. One of the conditions was that Cornwall
should "Substantially …
by Brick walling of the thickness of the
present partition Walls of the said Great House, sever and divide the part of
the said Great house hereinbefore demised from the part thereof undemised,
so that the part undemised be made an entire Seperate dwelling House from
the Stabbing intended on the said part demised." A comparison of the
plan accompanying the indenture (see p. 120) with that of the Crown
estate in Downing Street in 1749 (see Plate 106) will show that "the little
house " and "the part of the great house" correspond with the eastern
portion of the premises marked "5" on the latter plan, i.e. of the
Downing Street portion of No. 10. On 17th February, 1732–3, the
Crown purchased the remainder of Cornwall's lease in these and other
The remainder of the Great House was dealt with separately. On
17th April, 1723, Downing leased (fn. 25) to James Steadman for a term expiring
in June, 1760, "all that Messuage … scituate … in a place heretofore
called Hampden Garden neare Kingstreet … at the West end of …
Downing Street … containing in length on the East part thereof Forty
nine Foot Eight Inches, and in Breadth on the West part thereof Forty nine
Foot, And on the North part thereof Forty Five Foot, And on the South part
thereof Forty Five Foot, and abutting North upon a Terras Adjoyneing to
Count Bothmoores Dwellinghouse in St. James's Park, and South upon the
Great Court Yard, West on one other house of the said Charles Downings
late in the Tenure of Thomas Fredrick Esquire … and East in part on part
of the same house lately demised to Henry Cornewall." On the westernmost
portion ot this site Steadman seems to have built the house which now forms
the eastern portion of No. 11. (fn. 26) From the fact, however, that in 1766 the
Downing Street portion of No. 10 is described as "old" and "much
decayed" it seems probable that the remaining portion of the Great House
was left standing. In the ratebook for 1731 the two houses are shown in
the occupation of John Scroop and Mr. Chicken (previously Mr. Skeley)
respectively. Four years later Chicken's house disappears, (fn. 27) being
obviously merged with the Bothmar house (and the Cornwall stabling)
to form what is now No. 10, Downing Street. The Crown did not
purchase the Steadman lease, probably because of the complication
introduced by its inclusion of the eastern part of No. 11, but rented
the No. 10 portion. (fn. 28)
When a new lease of the Hampden estate was granted to Sir Jacob
Garrard Downing in 1752, the "House with the yards & appurts …
laid to & enjoyed with the house lately rebuilt by the Crown for the first
Lord Comr of the Traēry" (fn. 29) was not included, and the Downing ownership
came to an end in 1763.
Plan of property demised to Henry Cornwall on 15th September, 1722.
from plan in the Public Record Office
In 1766 it was found that "the old part of the … House next the
Street" (i.e. the surviving portion of the Great House) was "much decayed,
the Floors & Chimneys much sunk from a levell, and no party Wall between
the House & the House adjoyning on the West side." It was therefore
decided to take down "the Front next the Street & also the East Flank
Wall of the Hall, to build a Party Wall on the West side … to
repair the remaining part of the Old Building & to Erect an additional
Building adjoyning thereto." (fn. 30) The work was not completed until
1774. (fn. 31) It is accordingly to the latter year that we may refer the
construction of the present western part of the Downing Street frontage
of No. 10.
In 1781–3 further extensive works were carried out. In June, 1781,
the Board of Works called attention (fn. 32) to "the dangerous State of the old part
of the House inhabited by the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Lord North],"
and expressed the opinion that "no time should be lost in taking down the
said Buildings," the cost of rebuilding which they estimated at £5,500.
Other works were obviously found necessary, for in the following March
the Board reported (fn. 33) that "the Repairs, Alterations & Additions at the
Chancellor of the Exchequer's House will amount to the sum of £5,580,
exclusive of the sum for which they already have His Majesty's Warrant." The
expenditure in fact amounted (fn. 34) to £11,078. (fn. 35)
Some particulars of the works carried out may be gathered from the
statement made by Pitt shortly after his first term of office as Chancellor of
the Exchequer. "The repairs of that house only, had, he said, but the year
or two before he came into office, cost the public 10,000l and upwards;
and for the seven years preceding that repair the annual expense had been little
less than 500l. The alterations that had cost 10,000l he stated to consist
of a new kitchen and offices, extremely convenient, with several comfortable
lodging-rooms; and he observed, that a great part of the cost, he had
understood, was occasioned by the foundations of the house proving
bad." (fn. 36)
A plan in the possession of H.M. Office of Works (Plate III)
shows the whole premises with proposed additions coloured pink. This,
with slight differences, agrees with the alterations which, so far as we know,
were carried out in 1781–3, and in all probability was the preliminary plan
prepared on the occasion. The pediment to the central portion of the north
front seems to have been removed at the same time. There is reason to
believe that the architect concerned with these works was Sir Robert
Taylor. (fn. 37)
On other occasions large sums have been spent in repairs and alterations at No. 10, Downing Street. For instance, in 1806 it was reported that
"owing to the bad state of repair of the House of the First Lord of the
Treasury the necessary work to be done there will amount to about £2,200, (fn. 38)
and in 1825 Soane estimated the cost of alterations to be made "in the
Chancellor of the Exchequer's house" (fn. 39) at from £1,800 to £2,000. In
1829 a report by H.M. Office of Works stated with reference to the house:
"This is a large old Building which has been altered, and added to, at many
different periods, and tho' in a substantial condition requires very frequent
repairs." (fn. 40)
We first hear of the garden of No. 10, Downing Street in 1736. On
16th April in that year the lords of the Treasury issued
letters patent (fn. 41) stating
that "a peice of garden ground scituate in his Majestys park of St. James's,
& belonging & adjoining to the house now inhabited by the Right Honourable
the Chancellour of his Majestys Exchequer, hath been lately made &
fitted up at the Charge … of the Crown," and that the said house and
garden were "meant to be annexed & united to the Office of his Majesty's
Treasury & to be & remain for the Use & habitation of the first Commissioner of his Majestys Treasury for the time being." As it was necessary
"that some Skilfull person should be appointed to look after … the said
peice of garden ground," they had selected Samuel Milward for the post at
a salary of £40 a year. (fn. 42)
Description of the Building.
The exterior of the premises overlooking Downing Street is in brick,
and comprises three storeys above a basement, and an attic storey beneath
a slate roof containing dormer windows (Plates 108 and 109). The plainness
of the general exterior is relieved by stone bands carried across the front at
the respective floor levels. There is also a moulded cornice (now in a rather
weather-worn condition) over the second-floor windows.
The entrance doorway (Plate 118) has stone dressings with shaped
consoles supporting a moulded head. An iron lamp surmounted by a crown
rests on wrought-iron supports forming part of the railings to the front areas.
The railings on each side of the entrance doorway finish with a ramp of scrollwork. The door itself is six-panelled, flush moulded, with a semicircular
fanlight having radiating bars, and is furnished with a lion's-head iron
The exterior on the east, overlooking the passageway leading through
the Treasury to Horse Guards Parade, has a plain brick front. The southeast portion contains in the lower part of the east face two large semicircularheaded windows with stone mullions, characteristic of the work of Sir
Robert Taylor. Above are the three high double-hung sash windows of the
Dining Room designed by Soane (Plate 109). The north end, which has
within the present century been increased by an additional storey, abuts
on Kent's return brick front of the Treasury.
The exterior on the north, overlooking the garden on the south side
of Horse Guards Parade, is also in brickwork. The central portion is
slightly advanced, with plain brick bands to the main and first floors and
also to the sill level of the main-floor windows, and is terminated by a brick
parapet above a heavily moulded wood cornice (Plates 110 and 116). Early
views show this wood cornice treated as a pediment to the central portion.
This seems to have been removed and the parapet rebuilt when other alterations took place in 1781–3 (see pp. 121–2). The tiled roof is of a steep pitch,
Some of the windows at the garden level, as well as the doorway,
retain the heavy sash-bars which are contemporary with the work of Kent.
The principal rooms on the main and first floors are situated in the
rear, or north portion of the building. Their decorations are typical of the
early Georgian period, and seem to have been carried out in 1732–5 before
the occupation of Sir Robert Walpole. Some alterations and decorations
were effected by Soane in 1825.
The rooms are lofty, with the walls panelled, and finished with an
entablature consisting of an enriched architrave, frieze and modillion cornice.
The first-floor rooms have a plain dado, and an entablature with a pulvinated
frieze carved with oak leaves and crossed ribbons. The mantelpieces are
carved in marble, and the door-cases have moulded overdoors, with carving
to the pulvinated frieze representing oak or acanthus leaves.
The large kitchen (Plate 118) in the basement is a lofty room, occupying
two normal storeys, and has a vaulted ceiling springing from flat bands or
imposts which continue around the room. A large semicircular-headed
window affords light, though its effect is somewhat lessened by the heavy
stone mullions and transomes. A similar window in the scullery adjoining
is divided by the insertion of a floor, forming another room which contains a
vaulted ceiling similar to that in the kitchen. The table in the kitchen has
a top made from a plank 5 inches thick, 14½ feet long and 2 feet 8 inches
wide, and is supported on a heavy under-carriage. The chopping-block is
also of massive proportions, measuring 2 feet in diameter and 2 feet 5 inches
The doorway leading to the garden has substantial bars to the glazed
panels. Its original position was probably more to the west, as the adjoining
opening (now a window), which has gauged quoins and is treated as of some
importance, seems to have been part of the original hall.
The entrance hall (Plate 126) leading from Downing Street is paved
with black-and-white marble squares, and double doors shut off the corridor
which affords approach to the Cabinet Room beyond. Over the doors is
fixed a semicircular fanlight with radiating bars.
A door on the left of the hall leads from No. 11, and affords the
Chancellor of the Exchequer access through No. 10 to the Treasury. At
the end of the corridor connecting the front part of the house with the rear
is the ante-room (Plate 119). The features of interest in this room are the
heavy sash-bars to the small panes of glass in the window overlooking
the internal area, contemporary with the work of Kent, and the bust of the
Duke of Wellington (fn. 43) in the niche over the fireplace. The room also contains
a grandfather clock, by "Samuel Whichote—London," in a mahogany case.
The Cabinet Room measures twenty feet by forty feet, and has the
entrance masked by a screen (fn. 44) , consisting of coupled Corinthian columns,
supporting a moulded entablature, which continues around the room (Plate
The mantelpiece, in mottled grey marble, is rather severe in character.
The door-cases have moulded heads, with the frieze pulvinated and enriched
with oak leaves and ribbons, while the walls are panelled and finished with a
moulded entablature, with the chief members of the modillion cornice picked
out in gilt (Plate 120). Folding doors at the west side of the room give access
to the terrace and garden below (Plate 117).
The Secretaries' Rooms leading from the Cabinet Room are
decorated in similar character, and have carved marble mantelpieces (Plates
123 and 124).
The small Waiting Room, (fn. 45) leading from the south-west side of the
Ante-Room, has an angle fireplace, with a marble architrave mitred around
the fire opening, supported on base blocks.
The main staircase (Plate 124) continues around an open well from the
basement to the first floor. (fn. 46) It consists of moulded stone treads and risers
with shaped ends, with the mouldings continued on the soffit of the stairs,
and an iron balustrade of scroll design with a mahogany handrail (Plate 125).
The walls to the stair have a panelled dado, and are finished with an entablature with mouldings similar to those in the principal rooms on the first floor.
The wood staircase beyond, which leads to the Treasury, has turned
balusters and a moulded capping to the close outer string. A window near
by, overlooking the back area, has stout sash-bars similar to those in the
The principal rooms on the first floor to the portion over the Cabinet
Room, etc., are lofty. They have the walls panelled and finished with a deep
entablature, and also moulded skirtings and chair-rails. The two Drawing
Rooms have the bed-moulds of the modillion cornice picked out in gilt, and
the pulvinated frieze enriched with oak leaves and ribbons (Plates 126 and
129). The sculptured mantelpieces are in statuary marble (Plate 127).
The mantelpiece in the Prime Minister's bedroom is in statuary
marble, with detached black marble columns and Ionic caps and bases,
while the frieze contains a central tablet with a lion's mask (Plate 123).
The Dressing Room adjoining has the heavy sash-bars and small
squares to the windows overlooking the area, which have already been noticed
in other rooms.
The official Drawing Room has been extended by the removal of the
wall on the south side, and the substitution of a screen of Ionic columns
(Plate 126). A carved oak cupboard with glass doors and drawers below,
which has recently been obtained for this room, resembles the style of
furniture designed by Kent and his contemporaries (Plate 128).
The Breakfast Room adjoining is lined with oak, with a sunk reed
moulding forming the panels. The mantelpiece, which is below the window,
is in white marble, with strips of a dark colour relieving its otherwise plain
appearance (Plate 128). The panelling is finished with a delicate plaster
cornice, consisting of a band of shallow panels or coffers and beaded strings.
This room was designed by Soane, and has an air of domesticity, which is a
relief to the official atmosphere of the adjoining rooms (Plate 129).
The official Dining Room, also designed by Soane, is a lofty room
occupying two floors, and is panelled in oak with reeded mouldings in a
similar manner to the Breakfast Room (Plates 130 and 131). The panelling
has a dentilled oak capping, while above springs a flat intersecting plaster
vault forming the ceiling, which is divided into panels by bands enriched
with Greek motifs (acanthus leaf, fret and honeysuckle), while in each
tympanum are placed plaster medallions, those over the chimneypiece
and entrance doors containing representations of Ancaeus and Phaethon
The attics over the back portion of the block have six-panelled double
bolection moulded doors, and have on the corridor side interesting architraves of late 17th-century section. They are hung on L-iron hinges, and
are in all probability the original doors.
Condition of Repair
The following is a list of occupiers of No. 10, Downing Street (and of the house which preceded it) to 1834. Chancellors of the Exchequer are shown in italics and First Lords of the Treasury
are indicated by a (fn. 47) .
|Circa 1673—circa 1676||Duke of Buckingham|
|1677–90||Earl of Lichfield|
|1735–42||Sir Robert Walpole*|
|1745–53||Earl of Lincoln|
|1754–61||Henry Bilson Legge|
|1763–65||George Grenville *|
|1770–82||Lord North *|
|1782||Lord John Cavendish (fn. 47) |
|1783||Duke of Portland *|
|1783–1801||William Pitt *|
|1801–04||Henry Addington *|
|1804–06||William Pitt *|
|1806–07||Lord Grenville *|
|1807||Duke of Portland *|
|1809–12||Spencer Perceval *|
|1823–27||F. J. Robinson|
|1827||George Canning *|
|1827–28||Lord Goderich *|
|1828–30||Duke of Wellington *|
|1830–34||Earl Grey *|
In view of the clearly expressed intention (see p. 122) that No. 10, Downing Street should
"be & remain for the Use & habitation of the First Commissioner of his Majestys Treasury for the
time being," the above list from 1735 onwards is somewhat surprising. An analysis of it shows that, exclusive of three persons (Earl of Lincoln, Lewis Watson, and Thomas Pelham) who held neither
office, it is (with one exception, the Duke of Portland) up to 1806, a list, not of First Lords of the
Treasury, but of Chancellors of the Exchequer, and even after that date Spencer Perceval, Nicholas
Vansittart, and F. J. Robinson occupied the house while holding the latter office only. (fn. 49)
Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.
We now proceed to a more or less detailed account of the persons included in the list.
George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, was born in 1628 at Wallingford House, and
was brought up with the King's children. On the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the King,
and, though treated with leniency by the Parliament on account of his youth, again took up arms
in 1648. His estates were sequestered and he fled to Holland. In 1651 he accompanied Charles
II to Scotland, and took part in the battle of Worcester, after which he succeeded in escaping to
the Continent. In 1657 he returned to England without leave and, to Cromwell's great indignation,
married Mary, only daughter of Lord Fairfax. In the following year he was sent to the Tower,
where he spent six months. On the Restoration he became one of the most influential persons in
the country, particularly after the fall of Clarendon in 1667. In 1674 he was attacked by the
Commons for his share in the French Treaty and was dismissed from his appointments. Thenceforth he was in opposition, and on the accession of James II he retired into the country. He died in
1687. He was the prototype of Dryden's Zimri, an author, and a patron of letters.
Buckingham's residence at the house built in 1671–3 on a portion of the site of No. 10,
Downing Street, seems to have begun before July, 1673, for a letter is extant, dated the 5th of that
month, from Osborne to the Customs Commissioners, to cause to be opened at the Duke of Buckingham's lodgings in the Cockpit 4 ballets of goods imported from Italy for him. (fn. 50) He was nominally
still in occupation in March, 1675–6, for his name appears on the plan accompanying the grant
of the adjoining premises to Danby in that month.
In our ignorance of the circumstances in which that house was pulled down, and the premises
now incorporated in No. 10, Downing Street were erected in its place, it is not possible to assert
that Buckingham had any hand in the rebuilding. In fact, the contrary is much the more likely
supposition, for he was in disgrace from 1674, and in 1676 it was recorded that he was "living in
retirement away from the Court." (fn. 51) It is suggestive that Duppa's petition (see p. 115) as to expenses
incurred in connection with inter alia the transfer of the premises to the Lichfields refers to the
building as the Duchess of Buckingham's lodgings. Although it is not possible to say exactly when
these expenses were incurred, as the petition covers the period from December, 1675, to 13th July,
1678, yet, since the Lichfields were apparently in occupation in February, 1676–7, Duppa's negotiations must have taken place in 1676. (fn. 52) In that case it seems probable that the lodgings (which, it
must be assumed, either had been partly burnt or had given way from the foundation) were reconstructed in the latter part of that year in anticipation of the coming marriage of the earl and countess.
Lee, Earl of Lichfield.
Sir Edward Henry Lee, Earl of Lichfield, son of Sir Francis Henry Lee, of Ditchley, was
born in 1656. In 1674 he was created Earl of Lichfield, and in February, 1676–7, married Lady
Charlotte Fitzroy, the 12-year-old daughter of Charles II by the Duchess of Cleveland. In 1687
he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Oxfordshire, but retired from office at the Revolution. He died
at Greenwich in 1716. "Lady Lichfield … was celebrated for her 'blameless' beauty and her
numerous issue." (fn. 53) She died in 1718.
The Lichfields probably took possession of the house on the occasion of their marriage in
February, 1676–7. The formal grant, as usually happened in such cases, came later. At any rate,
the house is definitely referred to as "ye Countess of Litchfields lodgings" in the account of certain
repairs carried out to it in March, 1676–7. (fn. 54) The Lichfields were apparently afraid of being
inconvenienced by the houses erected on Downing's estate, and on 3rd April, 1684,
Charles II wrote to his daughter (fn. 55) : "I think it a very reasonable thing that other houses
should not look into your house without your permission, and this note will be sufficient
for Mr. Surveyor to build up your wall as high as you please, the only caution I give you is not
to prejudice the corner house, which you know your sister Sussex (fn. 56) is to have, and the building
up the wall there will signify nothing to you, only inconvenience her." Later in the same year
(5th September, 1684) another letter from the King alludes to an expenditure of £200, which may
refer to the same work. (fn. 57) The Lichfields' occupation (fn. 58) of the premises lasted until 1690, (fn. 59) the
earl's name being replaced in the overseers' accounts for 1691 by that of Lord Overkirk, who had
purchased the lease. (fn. 60) The house remained in his occupation until his death, and afterwards in
that of his widow until she died in January, 1720.
Henry Nassau, Count and Lord of Auverquerque (Overkirk), third son of Louis, Count of
Nassau, was born in 1641. He came to England with William III, and was appointed Master of the
Horse and naturalised. His wife, Frances D'Arson de Sommerdick, was also naturalised in 1695. (fn. 61)
He took part in the Battles of the Boyne and Steinkirk, and later commanded the Dutch forces in
the earlier years of the War of the Spanish Succession. He died in 1708. In the same year his house
is noticed (fn. 62) as: "Overkirk (the Lord) his House is situate in Downing Str. Westminster," and in the
previous year the parish register of St. Margaret's records (under date of 20th February, 1706–7):
"Hon. Lady Coot D. to the Rt. Hon. Nausau, Earle of Bellamont by Lucy his Countes. Nat. at
the Ld Overquerques in St. Jameses Park by the Parrade."
The circumstances in which Count Bothmar obtained possession of the house have been
alluded to (see p. 116). Johann Caspar von Bothmar, Count Bothmar, was born in 1656, and came
to England in 1710 as the accredited envoy of the Elector of Hanover. On the death of Anne in
1714, and pending the arrival of George I, "Bothmer was the virtual ruler." (fn. 63) During the early
part of George's reign he was one of the most influential of the group of advisers known as the
"Hanoverian Junta." He died in 1732, (fn. 64) and on 22nd June of that year an order was issued (fn. 65)
"to seal up baggage of Count Erbach, son-in-law to the late Count Bothmar, on his return to
Holland, at his house in Downing Street."
For an account of the life of Sir Robert Walpole the reader is referred to the standard
biographies. Attention is here limited to Walpole's connection with No. 10, Downing Street.
On the death of Bothmar, George II, according to Horace Walpole, (fn. 66) "offered it to …
Walpole, but he would only accept it for his Office of First Lord of the Treasury, to which Post he
got it annexed for ever." There seems no reason to doubt the statement. Horace Walpole may be
presumed to have had first-hand knowledge, and, as far at least as a portion of the facts is concerned,
it is borne out by other evidence. (fn. 67) As Horace Walpole states that the house belonged to the Crown,
and refers to the grant of it to Bothmar, his statement as to the offer to Sir Robert clearly has special
reference to the Bothmar portion of No. 10, Downing Street. This fact accounts for the appearance
of Sir Robert's name in the 1732 ratebook, (fn. 68) while the occupant of the Downing Street frontage
(Mr. Chicken) is shown still in residence from 1732 to 1734. Even if such had not been the original
intention, however, it was very soon decided to enlarge the Bothmar House by taking in the other.
The necessary works were carried out in 1735, and on 22nd September of that year Walpole moved
in. (fn. 69) His occupation of the house lasted for nearly seven years. In the early part of 1742 his defeat
over the Chippenham election brought about his resignation, and Lord Wilmington became First
Lord of the Treasury. The latter not wanting the house for himself, it passed to the Chancellor
of the Exchequer, Samuel Sandys, and Walpole removed in July to Arlington Street. (fn. 70)
Walpole, Earl of Orford.
Samuel Sandys, Baron Sandys, son of Edwin Sandys, M.P. for Worcestershire, was born
about 1695. In 1718 he entered Parliament as member for Worcester, a seat which he held for 25
years. In the House he earned the nickname of "the motion maker," and gradually rose into
prominence by his consistent opposition to Walpole. On the latter's retirement in 1742 he was
appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, a position which he held until December, 1743. He was
then created Baron Sandys of Ombersley. He was Treasurer of the Chamber from 1747 to 1755,
became Speaker of the House of Lords in 1756, and from 1761 to 1763 was First Lord of Trade
and Plantations. He died in 1770. His abilities have been described in somewhat unflattering
Sandys was succeeded in the Chancellorship of the Exchequer by Henry Pelham, who was
also First Lord of the Treasury. We should therefore expect to find Pelham in occupation of No.
10, Downing Street, but the ratebooks show that Sandys remained at the house until 1744, and the
same authorities (combined with the evidence of the plan of 1749, see Plate 106) show that he was
followed by the Earl of Lincoln.
Henry Fiennes Clinton, 9th Earl of Lincoln (Duke of Newcastle), was born in 1720, and
succeeded his brother in the earldom in 1730. In 1768 he succeeded his uncle as 2nd Duke of
Newcastle-under-Lyme. He kept himself aloof from politics and died in 1794. He had in 1744
married his first cousin, Pelham's elder daughter, and it may be assumed that Pelham utilised his
rights in No. 10, Downing Street, by providing a home for his nephew and son-in-law. (fn. 71)
Lincoln's occupation of the house lasted from 1745 until 1753. The ratebooks show that
he was succeeded in residence by "Lewis Watson." This was the Hon. Lewis Monson, who
assumed the surname and arms of Watson, in compliance with the will of his cousin Thomas,
Earl of Rockingham, on inheriting the latter's estate. He was raised to the peerage in 1760 as
Baron Sondes. In 1752 he had married Pelham's younger daughter, and the reason for his occupation of the house is therefore not far to seek.
Pelham died in 1754, and the ratebook for that year shows Watson's name crossed through,
and that of "Henry Legg" written in.
Henry Bilson-Legge, fourth son of the first Earl of Dartmouth, was born in 1708. After
a short service in the navy he became private secretary to Sir Robert Walpole. He entered Parliament in 1740 as member for East Looe. He was successively Surveyor-General of Woods and
Forests, a lord of the Admiralty and a lord of the Treasury. In 1748 he was sent as Envoy-Extra
ordinary to Frederick the Great, in which position he gave great offence to George II. In 1754
he became for the first time Chancellor of the Exchequer, but was dismissed towards the end of the
following year for opposing the Hessian Treaty. A twelvemonth later he was again appointed to
the position, which, except for the ministerial interregnum in 1757, he held until 1761, when he
was again dismissed for his refusal to agree to the payment of a subsidy to the Landgrave of Hesse.
He died in 1764. He had a good reputation as a financier.
For the interval between Legge's first and second chancellorships the position was held by
Sir George Lyttelton (1st Baron Lyttelton), but, according to the ratebooks, Legge continued in
occupation of No. 10 until 1761. In the book for 1756 the house is shown as "E[mpty]. Henry
Legg," with a note against his name: "Return'd." It would seem, therefore, that Lyttelton did
not occupy the house.
On Legge's final dismissal in 1761, Lord Barrington became Chancellor of the Exchequer,
and held the position for a little over a twelvemonth, when he was succeeded by Sir Francis Dashwood. The ratebook for 1762, however, contains no suggestion that Barrington resided at No. 10,
the entry in respect of the house being "Thos. Pelham" with "Sir Francis Dashwood" written in.
The Thomas Pelham in question was probably the person of that name, afterwards Earl of Chichester,
who in 1761 became a lord of the Admiralty.
Francis Dashwood (Baron Le Despencer) was born in Great Marlborough Street in 1708.
His early life was notorious for its profligacy, and in 1745 he founded the infamous brotherhood
known (from his own name) as The Franciscans of Medmenham. He was also a leading member of
the Dilettanti. He entered Parliament in 1741 as member for New Romney. His one honourable
distinction in parliamentary life was afforded by his strenuous opposition to the execution of Byng.
His dependence on Bute gained him the chancellorship of the Exchequer in 1762, but his ignorance
of the rudiments of finance afforded the wits of the time an opportunity for ridicule of which they
were not slow to avail themselves. He also raised violent opposition by an excise on cider, and in
1763 retired from office. In the same year the abeyance of the barony of Le Despencer was
terminated in his favour, and he became premier baron of England. From 1766 to 1781 he was
joint Postmaster-General. He died in the latter year.
The rate book for 1763 shows "Sr Francis Dashwood" succeeded at No. 10, Downing
Street, at Midsummer by the "Honble. George Grenwell." This was George Grenville, born in
1712, the second son of Richard Grenville of Wotton Hall, Bucks. At first destined for a career
at the Bar, he turned his attention to politics, and in 1741 entered Parliament as member for Buckingham, a seat which he held until his death. He joined the "Boy Patriots" in opposition to Walpole, and at first acted with Pitt, but after 1760, under Bute's influence, gradually deserted him.
At this time he was Treasurer of the Navy. In 1762 he was appointed Secretary of State, but had
considerable differences with Bute over the terms of the Peace with Spain. On the latter's resignation
in the following year he became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. His
ministry was chiefly remarkable for the passing of the Stamp Act, and for the early proceedings against
Wilkes. He irritated the King by his tediousness and want of tact, and in 1765 was dismissed. In
1769 he opposed the expulsion of Wilkes from the House. He died in 1770. He obtained the
nickname of "Gentle Shepherd," in allusion to Pitt's mocking quotation of "Gentle shepherd,
tell me where" in the course of Grenville's defence of Dashwood's cider tax.
The ratebooks show that Grenville was succeeded at No. 10 by Dowdeswell. William
Dowdeswell was born in 1721, and was educated at Westminster, Christ Church, Oxford, and
Leyden. At the latter university his successor Townshend, as well as Wilkes, were fellow-students.
After a time of travel on the Continent he returned to England, and was elected member for the
family borough of Tewkesbury in 1747. He was out of Parliament from 1754 to 1761, but from
the latter year he gradually obtained a leading position in his party. In 1765 he succeeded Grenville
as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a position which he held for a twelvemonth, and on his retirement
received the thanks of the mercantile interest for his exertions in promoting a revival of trade.
In 1767 he carried a motion for the reduction of the land-tax, the first instance since the Revolution
of a ministry being defeated on a money bill. He remained a prominent member of the House
for the remainder of his life, which terminated at Nice in 1774. He was noted for his refusal, on
his retirement from the chancellorship, to accept any lucrative appointments contrary to his engagements with his party, in spite of his straitened circumstances and numerous family. His epitaph
(highly eulogistic, but "so perfectly true that every word of it may be deposed upon oath") was
composed by Burke.
The ratebook for 1766 shows the "Rt. Honble.Wm. Dowdswell" superseded by "Mr.
Townshend" at No. 10. Charles Townshend, born in 1725, was the second son of Charles, 3rd
Viscount Townshend. He began his parliamentary career in 1747 as member for Great Yarmouth.
In 1754 he was made a lord of the Admiralty, but soon resigned, and in 1761 succeeded Barrington
as Secretary-at-War. In 1763 he became President of the Board of Trade for a short time. In the
following year he made one of his outstanding speeches, the subject being the illegality of general
warrants, and in 1765 he obtained the position of Paymaster-General. Next year he succeeded
Dowdeswell as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Defeated by the latter on the land-tax in 1767, he
declared his intention of finding compensatory revenue in America. His proposals to this end
produced intense resentment among the colonists, but Townshend did not live to see the disastrous
results of his policy. He died the same year at No. 10, Downing Street. (fn. 72) Townshend had a remarkable reputation among his contemporaries, but his great gifts were vitiated by an entire want of
consistency and lack of fidelity to his colleagues. "Nothing of the smallest value remains of an
eloquence which some of the best judges placed above that of Burke and only second to that of
Chatham." (fn. 73)
The ratebook for 1768 shows Lord North in occupation of No. 10. (fn. 74)
Frederick North, Lord North (Earl of Guilford), only son of Francis, 1st Earl of Guilford,
was born in Albemarle Street in 1732. On leaving Oxford he spent three years in travel on the
Continent, and shortly after his return in 1753 was elected M.P. for Banbury. At first he acted
with the Whigs, but gradually came to adopt the position of complete subservience to the wishes of
the King. In 1767, after once refusing, he accepted the chancellorship of the Exchequer. In
1770 he became, in addition, First Lord of the Treasury. Throughout his ministry, which lasted
until 1782, North was not much more than the agent of the King, who directed the policy of the
Government. The outstanding event of this period was the outbreak of war with America, and
the disastrous course of that war, culminating in the surrender of Yorktown, (fn. 75) at last brought about
North's resignation. In 1783 he formed a coalition with Fox under the Duke of Portland, becoming
joint Secretary of State with the former. The ministry was dismissed at the end of the year, and
thenceforward North acted with the opposition against Pitt. In 1790 he succeeded to the earldom
of Guilford. He died in 1792.
North, Earl of Guilford.
His residence at No. 10, Downing Street, lasted from 1767 to 1782. He was accordingly
there during the Gordon Riots of 1780, when the house was besieged by the mob. No actual attack,
however, was made, and the crowd gradually melted away. (fn. 76) During the last few years of his residence North realised that he might have to quit the house at short notice, and we are told that in view
of this he would never let for a longer period than one year a house which he possessed in Grosvenor
Square, although he could easily have found a permanent tenant for it. (fn. 77)
On Lord Rockingham succeeding North as First Lord of the Treasury, Lord John Cavendish
became Chancellor of the Exchequer on 27th March, 1782. Rockingham died on 1st July, and
Cavendish resigned. In April, 1783, Cavendish again became Chancellor under the Duke of Portland, and their term of office lasted until December of the same year. On the question of the occupant
of No. 10, Downing Street, during those two brief periods, the ratebooks shed no light. (fn. 78) As regards
the former, no direct evidence that Cavendish occupied the house has been found. Rockingham,
however, seems to have continued to reside in Grosvenor Square, (fn. 79) and his death occurred "at
his house at Wimbledon." (fn. 80) It would seem, therefore, that the precedent set in Rockingham's
previous ministry, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Dowdeswell) lived at No. 10, Downing
Street, was followed, and Cavendish's name has accordingly been included in the list of occupants
of that house. The fact, however, cannot be regarded as established.
As regards the second period it is unquestionable that Portland occupied the house. There
are many references in the contemporary press (fn. 81) to his residence, as well as two items in the official
records which point to the duke being in occupation. (fn. 82) Moreover, the plan of Horatio Walpole's
property in 1783 (see p. 92) shows the stables in the rear, which always went with No. 10, Downing
Street, as "of the Duke of Portland."
Lord John Cavendish, fourth son of William, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, was born in 1732.
In 1754 he entered Parliament as member for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. In 1765 he was
appointed a lord of the Treasury by Rockingham. His two periods of office as Chancellor of the
Exchequer have been referred to above. He died in 1796. He was a great friend of Burke, who has
portrayed his character in most flattering terms.
William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, was born in 1738 and succeeded
to the title in 1762. He threw in his lot with Rockingham's party, and in 1782, when Rockingham
returned to power, he was made Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. On the coming into office of the coalition
between Fox and North in 1783, Portland became Prime Minister, but resigned at the end of the
year owing to the circumstances connected with the rejection in the House of Lords of Fox's India
Bill. He was now the head of the Rockingham Whigs. At first he spent much time in retirement,
but the progress of the French Revolution profoundly moved him, and in 1794 he returned to public
life as Home Secretary under Pitt. He held the post, most successfully, until 1801. On the accession of Addington to power in that year he continued in the Cabinet as Lord President of the Council,
and on Pitt's return in 1804 remained in the Cabinet without office. On the retirement of Grenville
in 1807 he became for the second time First Lord of the Treasury. He died in 1809.
Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland.
For the life of William Pitt, the younger, the reader is referred to the standard
Pitt's first residence at No. 10, Downing Street, took place when he succeeded Lord John
Cavendish as Chancellor of the Exchequer in July, 1782, and lasted less than a twelvemonth. (fn. 83)
In the following December (1783) he became First Lord of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the
Exchequer for the second time. His second term of residence at No. 10, Downing Street, lasted for
over 17 years, and was a period characterised, domestically, by lavish expenditure and consequent
financial trouble. "When he was appointed First Minister, his youngest Sister, Lady Harriet
Pitt, resided with him, and superintended his Establishment in Downing Street. She possessed in
Addition to other eminent intellectual Endowments, that Quality which her Father and Brother
wanted; and so long as she personally controlled his domestic Affairs, I havė been assured that they
were restrained within very reasonable Limits. Unfortunately for him in September, 1785, within
two Years after he came into Power, Lady Harriet gave her Hand to Mr. Elliot, who became
Lord Elliot on his Father's Demise; and subsequent to her Marriage, Pitt's pecuniary Concerns
fell into the utmost Disorder. Debts accumulated; and it was commonly asserted, that the Collectors of the Taxes found more Difficulty in levying them from the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
than from almost any other Inhabitant of Westminster. Even Tradesmen's Bills, particularly those
of Coachmakers, were said to be frequently paid, not in Money, but by ordering new Articles,
and thus augmenting the Pressure of the Evil itself." (fn. 84) His third term of occupation was from 1804 (fn. 85)
until his death. References to his residence at the house during this period are abundant. He had
fixed the 19th of January, 1806, as the day for a dinner at No. 10, Downing Street in honour of the
Queen's birthday, and although he was at the time lying seriously ill at his house at Putney, he insisted that the function should proceed, and sent Lady Hester Stanhope, who for the last few years
had kept house for him, from Putney to Downing Street to superintend the arrangements. It was
a very mournful meal. In less than a week he was dead.
The issues of Boyle's Court Guide for the years 1802 to 1804 give the name of the "Rt.
Hon. Hen. Addington" in respect of No. 10, Downing Street, showing that Addington occupied
the house for the interval between the second and third terms of Pitt's residence.
Henry Addington (1st Viscount Sidmouth), who was son of Dr. Anthony Addington, a
well-known physician, was born in 1757. After leaving Oxford he embarked on a legal career, but
was persuaded by Pitt, with whom he had been intimate from childhood, to turn his attention to
politics. He entered Parliament in 1784 as member for Devizes, and warmly supported Pitt, whose
influence brought about his election as Speaker in 1789. He retained this position until 1801,
and, on Pitt's resignation in that year, became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the
Exchequer. He was thus responsible for the terms of the Peace of Amiens, signed in March, 1802.
The war was renewed in May, 1803, and fault was then found with Addington's preparations.
He resigned in 1804. (fn. 86) In 1805 he was created Viscount Sidmouth, and joined Pitt's ministry as
President of the Council, but resigned after a few months. He afterwards held the same post in
Perceval's ministry, and in 1812 became Home Secretary. In this capacity he showed great severity
in dealing with the Luddites, and was held to have been partly responsible for the "Manchester
massacre." He also sought to curtail the liberty of the press. He retired from office in 1821 and
from the Cabinet in 1824. He died in 1844.
After Pitt's death Grenville became First Lord of the Treasury (in February, 1806).
He is shown in Boyle's Court Guide for 1807 as living at No. 10, and this residence is amply
confirmed. (fn. 87)
William Wyndham Grenville, Baron Grenville, youngest son of George Grenville, was born
in 1759, and therefore spent a portion (1763–5) of his childhood in No. 10, Downing Street, whilst
his father was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although admitted to Lincoln's Inn, he was never
called to the Bar, and in 1782 was returned to Parliament as member for Buckingham. After serving
various offices, and some experience in diplomatic matters, he was elected Speaker in 1789. He
held the post for only a few months, resigning it to become Home Secretary. In 1790 he was
created Baron Grenville, and was entrusted with the conduct of Government business in the Upper
House. In 1791 he became Foreign Secretary. He resigned with Pitt in 1801. On the downfall
of the Addington ministry in 1804 he refused to accept office under Pitt without Fox, giving the
former great offence. On Pitt's death in 1806 Grenville became First Lord of the Treasury in the
Ministry of all the Talents, but held office for only a little more than a year, when he resigned because
of his views in favour of Catholic emancipation. During that time he carried the resolutions for
the abolition of the slave trade. He never again took part in a ministry, though he received serveral
offers, but until 1823, when he had a paralytic stroke, was prominent in public affairs. He died
Grenville, Lord Grenville.
In March, 1807, Portland succeeded Grenville as First Lord, with Spencer Perceval
as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Grenville removed from No. 10, Downing Street, in May, (fn. 88)
but Portland did not move in until July. (fn. 89) His stay was not of long duration, for on 8th September
he returned to Burlington House. (fn. 90) Six weeks later Perceval took up his residence at No. 10, (fn. 91)
and the issues of Boyle's Court Guide for 1808 to 1812 (with the exception of that for 1810) show
that he continued to live there until his death.
Spencer Perceval, second son of the second Earl of Egmont, was born in Audley Square
in 1762. He adopted the legal profession, and in 1790 was appointed Deputy-recorder of Northampton. In 1796 he became K.C., and entered Parliament as one of the members for Northampton.
He was appointed Solicitor-General in Addington's ministry in 1801, and Attorney-General in
1802, resigning in 1806 after Pitt's death. In the following year he became Chancellor of the
Exchequer in Portland's administration, and in 1809 succeeded Portland as First Lord of the
Treasury (retaining the chancellorship of the Exchequer). In 1812 he was assassinated in the lobby
of the House of Commons by a bankrupt, named John Bellingham, who had a grievance against
the Government. (fn. 92)
In the issue of Boyle's Court Guide for 1810 Charles Arbuthnot is shown as residing at
No. 10, Downing Street. No other evidence has been found for this residence, which, breaking
as it does the continuity of Perceval's occupation of the house, is rather difficult to explain. An
account of Arbuthnot will be found under No. 11, Downing Street, where he lived for some years.
The issues of Boyle's Court Guide for the years 1813–23 show Nicholas Vansittart at No. 10,
Downing Street. Nicholas Vansittart (Baron Bexley), son of Henry Vansittart, formerly Governor
of Bengal, was born in Old Burlington Street in 1766. He was called to the Bar in 1791, and
elected bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 1812. In 1793 and successive years he published a number of
pamphlets in support of Pitt's government, and in 1796 entered Parliament as member for Hastings.
In 1801 he went on a diplomatic mission to Denmark, and on his return was made joint Secretary
of the Treasury, an appointment he again received in Grenville's administration. For a short
time in 1805 he was Secretary for Ireland. In 1809 Perceval offered him the chancellorship of the
Exchequer, which he declined. On Perceval's assassination in 1812, however, he accepted the post,
which he held until 1823. In carrying out his duties, he showed very mediocre ability and contrived
to make himself exceedingly unpopular. In 1823 he was created Baron Bexley and Chancellor
of the Duchy of Lancaster, with a seat in the Cabinet. He held this position until 1828. During
the remainder of his life, which lasted until 1851, he took an active part in aid of religious and
For details of the life of Frederick John Robinson (Viscount Goderich, afterwards 1st
Earl of Ripon), see Survey of London, Vol. XIII, p. 177. His residence at No. 10, Downing
Street, began on his appointment in 1823 as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The appearance
of his name in Boyle's Court Guide for January, 1828, in respect of No. 10, Downing Street,
shows that he also resided there during his short term of office as First Lord of the Treasury
In the short interval of four months between Goderich's chancellorship and his becoming
Prime Minister, Canning was First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
George Canning was born in 1770. On leaving Oxford he at first, under the influence of
his uncle, Stratford Canning, joined the Whigs, but the progress of the French Revolution changed
his ideas, and in 1793 he definitely attached himself to Pitt. In the following year he entered Parliament as member for Newtown. His first appointment was in 1796, when he was made UnderSecretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Towards the end of the ministry he became PaymasterGeneral. In 1801 he followed Pitt into retirement, and in 1804, when the latter returned, became
Treasurer of the Navy. Although offered a high place in Grenville's ministry he declined, but when
Portland came into power in 1807, Canning was made Foreign Minister. His term of office was
marked by friction with Castlereagh, the Secretary for War, which culminated in a duel on Putney
Heath in which Canning was slightly wounded. He resigned, and afterwards refused a place in
the ministries of Spencer Perceval and Lord Liverpool. In 1814 he went, for private reasons, on
a voyage to Lisbon, and Lord Liverpool prevailed on him to undertake the post of AmbassadorExtraordinary there. In 1816 he became President of the Board of Control, but resigned in 1821
over the trial of Queen Caroline. In 1822, when about to set sail to take up the appointment of
Governor-General of India, he was made Foreign Secretary. During his tenure of office he (i)
acknowledged the independence of Spain's American colonies, (ii) shielded Greece from conquest
by Turkey, and (iii) supported the popular party in Portugal against absolutism. On Lord
Liverpool's death in 1827, Canning became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the
Exchequer. After only four months of office he died in August, 1827. Canning was a great
orator and possessed literary qualifications of no mean order. Among his poems the Needy
Knife-grinder is well known to many persons who have only the haziest knowledge of his career
as a statesman.
The Official Correspondence of Canning contains several letters headed "Downing Street,"
which make it certain that he resided there during his short term of office. (fn. 93)
On the resignation of Lord Goderich at the beginning of 1828, the Duke of Wellington
became First Lord of the Treasury, and the 1829 edition of Boyle's Court Guide shows the Duke
at No. 10, Downing Street. (fn. 94) It is not here proposed to give an account of the life of the "Iron
Duke," for which the reader is referred to the standard biographies. The duke did not reside at
No. 10 during the whole period of his administration, which lasted until 1830. During his last
year of office the house was occupied by Earl Bathurst. The issue of Boyle's Court Guide for 1830
shows Bathurst at No. 10, and this evidence is amply confirmed. (fn. 95)
Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst, was born in 1762, and entered Parliament in 1793
as member for Cirencester. In the following year he succeeded to the earldom. After holding
several minor offices he became Foreign Secretary in 1809. From 1812 to 1827 he was Secretary
for War and the Colonies, and under the Duke of Wellington was Lord President of the Council.
He died in 1834.
Wellington resigned on 16th November, 1830, and Earl Grey became Prime Minister.
Charles Grey, son of Sir Charles Grey, afterwards 1st Earl Grey, was born in 1764. On
leaving Cambridge he spent some time in travel, and in 1786 entered Parliament as member for
Northumberland. He attached himself to Fox, and this fact excluded him from office for the early
portion of his political career. He early took up the question of parliamentary reform, and in 1800
opposed the union with Ireland. In 1806 Grey (now Lord Howick) became First Lord of the
Admiralty under Lord Grenville. On the death of Fox later in the year he succeeded to his position
as leader of the Government Whigs, and was appointed Foreign Secretary. The ministry came to an
end in 1807, and Lord Howick (who towards the end of the year succeeded his father as Earl
Grey) remained out of office for nearly 24 years. In 1830, in his speech on the address at the meeting
of the new Parliament, he warmly advocated parliamentary reform, and Wellington's reply was
a practical refusal to consider the question. On the defeat of Wellington's government later in the
year, Grey became Prime Minister, and at once set about preparing a scheme for reform. After
great opposition the Bill passed in 1832. In 1834 Grey resigned in consequence of a disagreement
in the Cabinet on the renewal of the Irish Coercion Act. He took the opportunity of quitting public
life, and lived in retirement until his death in 1845.
Grey, Earl Grey.
The issues of Boyle's Court Guide for the years 1832 to 1834 show Grey at No. 10, Downing
Street, and this residence is confirmed from other sources. (fn. 96)
After the resignation of Grey in 1834, No. 10, Downing Street, although still the "official
residence" of the First Lords of the Treasury, ceased for many years to be their actual home.
In a few cases Boyle's Court Guide gives the names of certain persons (generally the private secretaries
of the Prime Minister for the time being), but in most of the years during this period no name is
given, and No. 10 was apparently used only as an office and a place for receptions, etc. The following
is a summarised account of the house and its residents from 1834.
|First Lord of the Treasury.||Commencement of Office.||Remarks.|
|Viscount Melbourne||July, 1834||Melbourne's residence was at No. 39,
South Street, Grosvenor Square.|
|Sir Robert Peel||November, 1834||Peel continued to reside at No. 4, Whitehall Gardens (see Survey of London,
Vol. XIII, p. 202). Boyle's Court
Guide for 1835 shows Sir Thomas
Fremantle, one of the secretaries of the
Treasury, at No. 10, Downing Street.|
|Viscount Melbourne||April, 1835||See above. Boyle's Court Guide for 1838
shows the Hon. Wm. Cowper (fn. 97) and
G. E. Anson, (fn. 98) and those for 1839 and
1840 give G. E. and the Hon. Mrs.
Anson at No. 10, Downing Street.|
|Sir Robert Peel||August, 1841||See above. Boyle's Court Guide for
1842 shows Edw. Drummond, (fn. 99) that
for 1843 Drummond and W. H.
Stephenson, and those for 1844 to
1846 Stephenson and Geo. Arbuthnot (fn. 100) at No. 10, Downing Street.|
|Lord John Russell||July, 1846||Boyle's Court Guide for 1847–52 shows
Russell at No. 32, Chesham Place.
The issue for 1847 shows the Hon.
Col. George Keppel, (fn. 101) the Hon.
Chas. S. Grey (fn. 102) and the Hon. R. W.
Grey at No. 10, Downing Street.|
|Earl of Derby||February, 1852||Derby's residence from 1837 to 1854
was at No. 8 (now 10), St. James's
|Earl of Aberdeen||December, 1852||Boyle's Court Guide shows Aberdeen at
No. 7, Argyll Street.|
|Viscount Palmerston||February, 1855||In 1855 Palmerston was residing at No.
144, Piccadilly. In the following year
he removed to No. 94 in the same
|Earl of Derby||February, 1858||From 1854 to his death in 1869 Derby's
residence was at No. 23 (now 33), St.
|Viscount Palmerston||June, 1859||See above.|
|Earl (formerly Lord
John) Russell||October, 1865||Boyle's Court Guide shows him at No. 37,
|Earl of Derby||July, 1866||See above.|
|Benjamin Disraeli||February, 1868||No evidence has been found to suggest
that Disraeli lived at No. 10, Downing
|William Ewart Gladstone||December, 1868||Gladstone's residence from 1856 to 1875
was at No. 11, Carlton House Terrace.|
In February, 1874, Disraeli (Earl of Beaconsfield) again became First Lord of the Treasury.
For nearly four years he resided at No. 2, Whitehall Gardens, (fn. 103) but in November, 1877, he removed
to the official residence at No. 10, Downing Street, which continued to be his home until his resignation in April, 1880.
He was succeeded in office by Gladstone, who was at the time living at No. 73, Harley
Street. From Gardiner's Life of Sir William Harcourt (I, p. 568) it would appear that Gladstone
(who was also Chancellor of the Exchequer) took up his residence at No. 10, and used No. 11 for
his secretarial staff. (fn. 104)
From this time it has been the settled practice for the First Lord of the Treasury (with the
partial exception of Lord Rosebery) to reside at No. 10, Downing Street. The holders of that
office have been:—
|First Lord of the Treasury.||Commencement of Office.|
|Sir Stafford Northcote
(Earl of Iddesleigh) (fn. 105) ||June, 1885.|
|William Ewart Gladstone||February, 1886.|
|William Henry Smith||July, 1886.|
|Arthur James Balfour||November, 1891.|
|William Ewart Gladstone||August, 1892.|
|Earl of Rosebery (fn. 106) ||March, 1894.|
|Arthur James Balfour
(afterwards Earl of Balfour) (fn. 107) ||June, 1895.|
|Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (fn. 108) ||December, 1905.|
|Herbert Henry Asquith
(afterwards Earl of Oxford and Asquith)||April, 1907.|
|David Lloyd George||December, 1916.|
|Andrew Bonar Law||October, 1922.|
|Stanley Baldwin||May, 1923.|
|James Ramsay Macdonald||January, 1924.|
|Stanley Baldwin||November, 1924.|
|James Ramsay Macdonald||June, 1929.|
In The Council's Collection Are:
No. 10, Downing Street and other houses.
Nos. 10, 11 and 12, Downing Street, basement plan (copy of plan in the possession of
H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 109) Nos. 10, 11 and 12, Downing Street, ground-floor plan (copy of plan in the possession of
H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 109) Nos. 10, 11 and 12, Downing Street, first-floor plan (copy of plan in the possession of
H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 109) Nos. 10 and 11, Downing Street, second and third-floor plans (copies of plans in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 109) The Treasury and houses in Downing Street from Saint James's Park in 1827 (photograph
of water-colour drawing preserved in the British Museum).
No. 10, Downing Street.
(fn. 109) Plan accompanying the grant to the Earl and Countess of Lichfield in 1677 (copied from
the plan reproduced in the London Topographical Record, Vol. I).
(fn. 109) Plan of premises as altered in 1732–5.
(fn. 109) Developed sketch elevations (seven) of the main rooms, circ. 1735 (photographs presented
by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).
(fn. 109) General elevation to Downing Street (photograph).
(fn. 109) Elevation to Downing Street (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 109) Elevation to Horse Guards Parade (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of
(fn. 109) Elevation to Treasury Passage (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works.)
(fn. 109) Section (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 109) Detail of iron balustrading to main staircase (measured drawing).
Detail of angle fireplace in waiting-room (measured drawing).
(fn. 109) Detail of entrance doorway (photograph).
(fn. 109) Elevation to garden looking south-east (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view from St. James's Park looking east (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view from Horse Guards Parade (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view from garden looking south-east (photograph).
Garden door to lower hall (photograph).
(fn. 109) General interior of kitchen (photograph).
View of kitchen table and chopping-block (photograph).
View of rooms over scullery showing vaulting (photograph).
(fn. 109) View of main staircase (photograph).
(fn. 109) View of entrance hall (photograph).
(fn. 109) View of corridor leading to Cabinet Room (photograph).
(fn. 109) View of ante-room to Cabinet Room (photograph).
View of window in ante-room looking into area (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view of Cabinet Room, 1927 (photograph).
(fn. 109) View of mantelpiece in Cabinet Room (photograph).
General view of Secretary's Room C (photograph).
(fn. 109) Mantelpiece in Secretary's Room C (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of door in Secretary's Room C (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of door in Secretary's Room B (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of mantelpiece in Secretary's Room A (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view of Drawing Room, 1927 (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of mantelpiece of Drawing Room (photograph).
(fn. 109) View of oak cupboard in Drawing Room (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view of smaller Drawing Room, 1927 (photograph).
Detail of mantelpiece in smaller Drawing Room, 1927 (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of mantelpiece in Boudoir, 1927 (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of mantelpiece in Prime Minister's Bedroom, 1927 (photograph).
(fn. 109) General view of Breakfast Room, 1927 (photograph).
(fn. 109) Detail of mantelpiece of Breakfast Room (photograph).
(fn. 109) General views of Dining Room, 1927 (photographs).
Detail of plaster decoration to ceiling of Dining Room (photograph).
Portraits of the Marquess of Salisbury, W. E. Gladstone and the Duke of Wellington in
Dining Room (photographs).