Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1912.
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X.—No. 46 LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.
General description and date of structure.
The original house on the site of No. 46 was probably erected at the same time as its neighbour No. 45. On 17th August, 1638, William Newton sold to George Plukenett and others (fn. 1) a parcel of ground designed as the site for a "capitall messuage" shortly to be erected, the plot being 33 feet wide, and situated between a plot let to Richard Banckes on the east and another let to Daniel Charlwood on the west.
The exterior (Plate 49) of the present house by its similarity of design seems to indicate that it was built at about the same date as No. 44, that is, the very beginning of the 18th century. In 1698 Lady Pierrepont was apparently still in residence, no entry with respect to the house is made in the ratebook for 1699, and although Sir Joseph Jekyll's name appears for the year 1700, he was not rated for that year. Although by no means conclusive, these facts certainly favour the view that the house was rebuilt in 1699 or 1700. The architectural arrangement and decorative details of the interior, point, however, to a partial reconstruction about the middle of the 18th century.
The oak staircase and first floor landing are shown on Plates 57 and 58. The stairs have carved brackets and twisted balusters. It will be noticed that newels have been omitted and the balusters clustered. This gives rather a weak termination to an otherwise very good staircase. The back stairs leading to the basement have turned balusters of good proportion.
The first floor front room (Plate 59) has a large recessed doorway, flanked by Ionic columns, but no entablature is used, other than a plain architrave and the cornice round the room. The columns are 19th century additions, and partially take the place of cupboards shown on Sir John Soane's plan.
Condition of repair.
William Pierrepont, 'Wise William', the celebrated politician of the Commonwealth period, was the second son of Robert, 1st Earl of Kingston, and was born about 1607. He represented Great Wenlock in the Long Parliament, and exercised considerable influence in the House. During the early part of the Civil War he was one of the heads of the peace party, but after the breakdown of negotiations in the summer of 1643, and his appointment in February, 1644, as a member of the Committee of Both Kingdoms, he became a vigorous supporter of the war. For some time he was looked upon as one of the leaders of the independent party, but Pride's Purge and the trial of the king disgusted him, and for several years he kept aloof from politics. With Oliver Cromwell he was on very good terms, and to his son Henry he was much attached. On the death of the former he supported the Government of his son Richard, and he has been identified with the mysterious friend "as considerable and as wise a person as any was in England, who did not openly appear among Richard's adherents or counsellors; but privately advised him, and had a very honourable design of bringing the nation into freedom under this young man, who was so flexible to good counsels." (fn. 2)
In the Convention Parliament of 1660 he was returned as member for Nottinghamshire, but the next year, being defeated, he never again sat in Parliament. In 1667 he was appointed one of the commissioners for the inspection of accounts. (fn. c1)
Sir Joseph Jekyll, son of John Jekyll, of London, was born in 1663. He was
called to the Bar in 1687, became chief justice of Chester in 1697, and in 1700
obtained the degree of serjeant-at-law, was appointed king's serjeant, and knighted.
He had entered Parliament in 1697 as member for Eye, Suffolk, and subsequently
sat for Lymington and Reigate. Throughout his career he consistently acted with
"Jekyll, or some odd old whig,
Who never chang'd his principle; or wig." (fn. 3)
He took an active part in the impeachment of Sacheverell in 1710, of the Earl of Wintoun in 1716, and of the Earl of Oxford in 1717. In July of the last-mentioned year he was appointed master of the Rolls, and sworn of the Privy Council. In 1725 he was chief commissioner of the Great Seal for a few months following the resignation of Lord Macclesfield. (fn. 4) In 1734 he was seriously injured in Lincoln's Inn Fields. (fn. 5) He incurred much odium by his introduction, in 1736, of the "Gin Act," which provided for the laying of a tax of 20s. a gallon on the retailing of spirituous liquors, and a guard of soldiers had to be posted at the Rolls Office in order to protect him from the violence of the mob. (fn. 6) He died in 1738 at his country seat in Hertfordshire. His residence at No. 46, Lincoln's Inn Fields apparently lasted from about 1700 to his appointment to the mastership of the Rolls in 1717.
Alexander Wedderburn, Baron Loughborough and Earl of Rosslyn, was born at Edinburgh in 1733. He was trained for the legal profession, and was enrolled as advocate in 1754. In the same year he became a member of the general assembly of the kirk of Scotland, where he greatly distinguished himself by his debating powers. In August, 1757, he left the Scottish Bar under somewhat dramatic circumstances, made his way to London, and in the following November was called to the English Bar. He entered Parliament in 1761 as member for the Ayr Burghs. He was professedly a Tory, but in 1768 he made so violent an attack on the government on the subject of Wilkes, that he felt himself bound to accept the Chiltern Hundreds. He returned almost immediately as member for Bishop's Castle, and a supporter of the popular party. In the case of Wedderburn, however, personal interest rather than any consistent political principle was the chief consideration, and in less than three years he had completely broken with his new party, and accepted the position of solicitor-general in Lord North's government. In 1778 he became attorneygeneral, and in 1780 was appointed chief justice of the common pleas and raised to the peerage as Baron Loughborough of Loughborough, Leicestershire. In 1793 he was made lord chancellor, and retained the Great Seal until 1801. On his retirement he was created Earl of Rosslyn. He died in 1805. From 1768 to 1772 he was resident at No. 64, Lincoln's Inn Fields. He then moved to No. 46, where he continued to live until 1781. (fn. 7) During the Gordon riots in 1780 he is said to have "fortified his private house in Lincoln's Inn Fields." (fn. 8)
James Adair first came into prominence in 1770, when he took part in the quarrel between Wilkes and Horne Tooke, and in the following year he was one of the counsel for the defence in certain prosecutions following the trial of the printers and publishers of the Junius letters. In 1775 he entered Parliament as member for Cockermouth, which borough he also represented in 1780, but from 1793 onwards he sat for Higham Ferrers. In 1779 he was appointed recorder of the City of London, a position which he held for ten years. He was made king's serjeant in 1782, and in that year he seems to have entered on his occupation of No. 46, Lincoln's Inn Fields, which was to be his residence for the remainder of his life. He died at the house (fn. 9) in July, 1798.