A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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The almoner of Westminster abbey was granted widespread fiscal exemptions for his lands, including Paddington, in 1103-4 and later. (fn. 1) Paddington, Knightsbridge, and Westbourne, as members of the vill of Westminster, belonged to the extensive liberty for which the abbot claimed infangthief, outfangthief, view of frankpledge, and most of the sheriff's pleas in 1294. (fn. 2)
There are no medieval court rolls for Paddington manor. It does not appear that jurisdiction lay with the courts for Eye (Ebury) or, after its acquisition by the abbey in the mid 14th century, with those for Hyde. The almoner was supposed to make periodic visits to Paddington c. 1270 (fn. 3) and he or some other official may have held courts there. It is also possible that Paddington, having belonged to St. Margaret's parish, was served by courts for the vill of Westminster. (fn. 4) Presumably courts were held for the bishop of London after the Reformation, although the first surviving proceedings are of 1678 (fn. 5) and courts are recorded regularly only from 1720. Thereafter a court baron was held by the steward of the manor or his deputy, usually between April and June. It met in Paddington, at an inn from 1815 or earlier until 1840, after which date a few transactions 'out of court' were noted. (fn. 6)
Paddington had a headborough, in charge of the watch, in 1615. (fn. 7) No manorial officers were elected at later courts, although homagers were always sworn. In the mid 18th century a headborough and a constable for the whole parish were chosen in vestry, the bishop's courts being almost wholly concerned with property. (fn. 8) The steward of the manor was asked by the vestry to appoint a pound keeper in 1817, but was not recorded as having done so. (fn. 9)
Westbourne was served by courts for Knightsbridge, which were recorded from 1358 and for the next 200 years were normally held with a view of frankpledge at Whitsuntide. From 1587 courts of the dean and chapter of Westminster were held for Knightsbridge with Westbourne, by 1661 called Westbourne green. Presided over by the steward or his deputy, most courts were at Knightsbridge in the 17th and 18th centuries and from the 1670s were either customary or special courts baron. (fn. 10)
Fines and presentments for Westbourne were entered separately from those for Knightsbridge in 1440-3, although both places apparently were served by the same constable and aletasters. (fn. 11) By 1511 or earlier Westbourne had its own homagers and, until 1590, its own constable, (fn. 12) whose place thereafter seems to have been taken by a chief pledge. Homagers only were sworn after the Restoration, when courts were concerned mainly with property transactions. (fn. 13)
Parish Government To 1837.
There were normally two churchwardens, elected in vestry at Easter, by 1655. They were said to be the joint choice of the minister and inhabitants in 1663 (fn. 14) but later both offices were always filled by a majority vote; in 1827 there were protests, apparently successful, after one of the churchwardens had been chosen by the minister alone. (fn. 15) Two overseers of the poor, who occasionally were the same persons as the churchwardens, two surveyors of the highways, and a constable were recorded from 1663 and a clerk was paid in 1693. (fn. 16) There was a beadle by 1774, a woman pew-opener by 1800, (fn. 17) a second constable by 1802, and a collector of poor rates, who acted under the overseers, from 1808. (fn. 18) The assistant curate John Shepherd acted as vestry clerk, sexton, and parish clerk before his dismissal in 1798, whereupon the offices were separated. (fn. 19) An assistant overseer was appointed on the first attempt to establish a select vestry in 1820 and held one of seventeen posts under the Paddington vestry which carried a salary or gratuities in 1826. By that date the vestry had created three boards, each of them with a clerkship which was held by the vestry clerk. (fn. 20) Parish records include churchwardens' accounts for 1656-1736 and from 1774, (fn. 21) payments to the poor and overseers' accounts from 1670, highway surveyors' accounts from 1738, vestry minutes for 1753-9 and from 1793, and (statutory) select vestry minutes from 1824. (fn. 22)
The vestry met at Easter and irregularly, less frequently than monthly, in the 1750s and 1790s. Average attendance was barely a dozen, a figure of 27 recorded in 1757 perhaps not being exceeded until the early 19th century. Dr. Morell, probably an assistant curate, was often present from 1753 until 1757, as later were John Shepherd and, from 1803, successive ministers. Meetings took place at the church and, from 1823, at a new vestry room adjoining the schoolhouse in Harrow Road. (fn. 23)
The vestry petitioned in favour of Sturges Bourne's first Act and in 1819, hampered by a constant 'spirit of irritation' at its meetings, it resolved that the general public was not concerned with many of the proceedings, which therefore should not be advertised. (fn. 24) In 1820 a large meeting under the new minister, Charles Theomartyr Crane, set up a select vestry consisting of the parish officers and 20 members. The new body, reporting four times a year to the full vestry, was renewed in 1821 but not in 1822. (fn. 25) A local Act for the general government of Paddington was then secured, under which a select vestry was re-established in 1824. Voters were restricted to residents assessed to poor rate at £10 a year or more and candidates to those assessed at £30; 36 vestrymen were elected, the Grand Junction Canal Co. and the trustees of the Paddington Estate nominated one member each, and other members included the minister, churchwardens, and overseers, the lord of the manor, and resident peers, privy councillors, judges, and Middlesex J.P.s. (fn. 26) S. P. Cockerell and Edward Orme were among early attenders and in 1829 the bishop himself was present, when building plans were discussed. (fn. 27)
From 1824 the full vestry met only once a year, to elect officers and auditors and inspect books. (fn. 28) Administration was left to the select vestry, which appointed three standing committees: the guardian board, the highway, paving, and cleansing board, and the watching and lighting board, to which three a finance committee was added in 1825. (fn. 29) By 1831 the functions of the watching and lighting board had been divided between the highway board and the new metropolitan police. (fn. 30) Permanent salaried appointments were not to be made by the boards without the vestry's approval. (fn. 31) Other committees, as before, dealt with specific problems, including the scrutiny of parliamentary Bills. (fn. 32)
Auditors complained in 1828 that accounts were badly kept and that the vestry clerk, who received nearly 5 per cent of the parish's £10,000 income besides fees for legal work, was overpaid. (fn. 33) In 1833, after charges of extravagance had repeatedly been denied, the auditors consulted a wider body of ratepayers, who formed a Paddington association but were refused use of the vestry room. (fn. 34) It was later alleged that the select vestry, which could be enlarged to match rises in the parish's rateable value, (fn. 35) was dominated by men who hoped to profit from the building up of the Paddington Estate. (fn. 36) The select vestry in 1830 petitioned against Hobhouse's proposed Act to abolish plural voting. Representing the 'respectable party', it was narrowly supported by a local poll in resisting the Act's adoption in 1836, when it also succeeded in securing the election of its own candidates as churchwardens and vestrymen, in opposition to the Paddington association's list. (fn. 37) The old vestry in 1815 had petitioned parliament in favour of free trade but the select vestry in 1835, considering itself elected solely for parochial purposes, declined to join Marylebone in supporting a 'liberal' candidate. (fn. 38)
The vestry clerk's high salary was presumably a recognition of the large amount of legal work involved in dealing with such powerful bodies as the trustees of the Paddington Estate, the Grand Junction Canal Co., and, from the 1830s, the G.W.R. Co. As early as 1800 there were disputes with the Grand Junction Canal Co. over threatened rights of way (fn. 39) and from 1806 complaints were made to the bishop and his lessees over their responsibility for the spread or subdivision of poor tenements. (fn. 40) The bishop's liability to poor rate in respect of the great tithes, which were let on lease, and the amount for which the canal company should be assessed were both referred to arbitration in 1810. (fn. 41) Reluctance by the select vestry to assume the upkeep of new roads led to an action in King's Bench in 1829 by the bishop, his lessees, and the company, who were jointly responsible for laying out Grand Junction Street. The Lord Chief Justice refused to order the appointment of a surveyor, since few houses had been built and the parish, lacking an income from new occupiers, would be forced to maintain the road for the benefit of the builders. (fn. 42)
Income in the late 17th century came mainly from rent for the parish properties and from poor rates. A church rate was occasionally levied, as in 1679 on 38 inhabitants and 8 non-residents, (fn. 43) while smaller sums included several for the burial of people hanged at Tyburn (fn. 44) and in 1717 the minister's gift of his offerings to buy coal for the poor. (fn. 45) The parish's half share in fees for burials in the church or churchyard rose considerably in the 18th century and was probably responsible for a note in 1786 that no church rates had been made since 1712, (fn. 46) although poor rates were levied by the 1750s. (fn. 47) Rents were later raised and supplemented by fines for inclosures, the churchwardens' receipts of c. £142 in 1774-5 including £50 for a trespass on the bread and cheese lands. In 1814-15 their receipts of c. £728 consisted largely of £555 for burials and £105 rents. (fn. 48) The local Act of 1824 enabled money to be borrowed on the security of the rates, (fn. 49) and the select vestry's establishment of standing committees was followed by the levying of separate rates for the poor, for highways, and for lighting and watching. (fn. 50) Rates were assessed by wards from 1773, when 56 properties were listed in Bayswater ward, 37 in Paddington ward, probably in or near Edgware Road, 50 in the Square, probably around Paddington green, and 16 in Kilburn. (fn. 51)
Poor relief, in the form of individual payments in money or in kind, was recorded from 1657. (fn. 52) Regular allowances were presumably made by 1670, when casual payments were listed separately. (fn. 53) The vestry in the 1750s still decided in detail the weekly sums to be paid to the 'pension poor', numbering 10 or 11 recipients in the summer of 1754; pensioners were paid by the overseers and casual recipients by the churchwardens. (fn. 54) By the 1790s the vestry merely gave general approval to the actions of its officers. Parish property was leased rather than used for paupers, (fn. 55) although in 1757 the vestry decided to provide beds in one of its houses and in 1801 to furnish and warm an almshouse hitherto reserved for the casual poor. (fn. 56) S. P. Cockerell urged the provision of a proper place in 1809, when the needy were 'kept by contract like animals at a distance of 5 miles'. A house had recently been taken for the sick poor in 1815 and it was proposed to take a larger one, to relieve the heavy burden of weekly allowances, in 1818. (fn. 57) That or some other converted building was described as a workhouse from 1820, when the first select vestry decided on admissions, leaving its daily supervision to the assistant overseer and a matron. It was rented from the charity estates and may have been enlarged by the addition of a house on either side following a recommendation of 1833; (fn. 58) in 1838 the poor were said to have occupied three buildings in Harrow Road. (fn. 59) Admissions from 1824 were decided by the guardian board, which managed tenders for supplying the workhouse. (fn. 60) There were 23 inmates, including 14 children, in 1821, when 154 paupers with 89 children were on the pension list, and 47 inmates, of whom 17 were children, in 1833; the adults were mostly old. (fn. 61) The guardian board also maintained a few refractory and other paupers at William Perry's farmhouse in Islington, besides lunatics at private establishments. (fn. 62)
The cost of maintaining the poor was £165 in 1776 and an average of £289 during the three years 1783-5. (fn. 63) It was said in 1802 to have greatly increased (fn. 64) and rose from £694 in 1803 to £4,376 by 1831, although in the later years it did not match the growth in population: the expense for each inhabitant was 7s. 4d. in 1803, 9s. 5d. in 1813, and only 6s. in 1831. (fn. 65) The guardian board in 1826 took pride in an unprecedentedly low poor rate and in 1836 attributed further economies to greater vigilance and a move towards relief in kind rather than in money. (fn. 66) Auditors commended the management of the workhouse in 1828 but complained of extravagance, which a select vestry committee denied, in 1833. Newspaper stories about callous treatment led the vestry to admit reporters to its meeting in 1836, when it resolved to allow less discretion to the assistant overseer. (fn. 67)
Local Government After 1837.
Paddington in 1837 became the largest financial contributor to Kensington poor law union, which also contained Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith, and Kensington. (fn. 68) Having opposed the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 and later requested sole responsibility for its own poor, the vestry remained hostile to the union, with the support of legal advice. (fn. 69) Claims for independence were renewed after the secession of Chelsea in 1841, when plans for a central workhouse for the remaining parishes were resisted, (fn. 70) until both Paddington and Kensington became separate poor law districts in 1845. (fn. 71)
The poor had left the houses in Harrow Road by 1838, when the property was to be leased out. (fn. 72) When Paddington resumed control of its poor, it continued to pay Kensington union for housing the adults until 1846, when they were moved to the establishment of Mr. Drouet at Brixton (Surr.), where children had already been lodged by the late union. (fn. 73) The new board of guardians also bought provisions by contract for its relieving officer to give to the outdoor poor and hired a house at the corner of Hermitage Street as a temporary relief centre. (fn. 74) Meanwhile c. 5 a. on the south side of Harrow Road next to the Lock hospital were bought from the Paddington Estate and an adjoining strip along the canal was leased from the Grand Junction Canal Co. A workhouse was built there in 1846-7 (fn. 75) and staffed with officers who included a master, matron, medical officer, chaplain, schoolmaster, and schoolmistress. (fn. 76) Paddington maintained 211 indoor and 627 outdoor paupers, 18 for every 1,000 inhabitants, in 1850, and proportionately fewer in 1860; after extensions for the sick, there were 605 indoor and 2,108 outdoor paupers, 28 for every 1,000 inhabitants, in 1870. (fn. 77) Despite the subsequent opening of a separate infirmary (fn. 78) the workhouse continued to receive infirm and lying-in patients and was certified for 703 inmates by 1884. (fn. 79)
The guardians greatly reduced out relief in the 1880s and 1890s, when they provided more accommodation. (fn. 80) Paupers were maintained at the workhouse until the First World War, when Paddington and other districts transferred their poor to Marylebone. (fn. 81) A chapel to seat 300, with an apsidal chancel and aisled and clerestoried nave, was built over the workhouse's remodelled dining hall by the guardians' architect H. H. Collins in 1875. (fn. 82)
The highway board and the finance committee continued to be renewed annually after 1837, it being reaffirmed in 1850 that each should have 18 members besides the minister, church officers, and resident J.P.s. (fn. 83) A committee for new churches existed from 1837 and became virtually a standing body, although in 1847 it was not required to report regularly. (fn. 84) The highway board had been charged with abating nuisances, but in 1849 a sanitary committee was appointed to enforce the Nuisances Removal Act. (fn. 85) A burial board was set up in 1853, when the vestry renewed for another year the highway board and the finance, sanitary, church, almshouse ground, and parliamentary committees. (fn. 86)
Paddington vestry was unusual in its readiness to raise bank loans, whether for new churches or, in the 1850s, for road and sewage works. In other respects it was a conservative body, opposed to all early plans for railway links with the City and to spending on lodging houses or baths for working men. (fn. 87) Continuing to resist the introduction of Hobhouse's Act, the vestry in 1849 printed a reply to complaints by the Paddington association and in 1853 was required to send to the Home Secretary the names of supporters of the Act who had been struck off the voters' lists. (fn. 88) Among the critics was William Robins, who opposed large grants towards churches which he thought should have been built by the bishop and his lessees; in his history of Paddington he lamented that the parish enjoyed less representative government than its neighbours. (fn. 89)
A new vestry hall was built in 1853, by means of a loan to be repaid by a special rate. (fn. 90) A faculty was obtained for appropriating the site, on the north side of Harrow Road west of the church, which had been bought from the Paddington Estate in 1843 in order to enlarge the burial ground and accordingly had been vested in the incumbent. (fn. 91) The building, designed by James Lockyer, was two-storeyed with projecting pedimented wings connected by a Tuscan colonnade forming a porch; the front was faced with white brick, the colonnade was of Portland stone, and other details were of Portland cement. It was enlarged in 1900, as the town hall, and again in 1920, the additions including an eastern projection in the original style and an entrance canopy; panels in the outer hall were unveiled as a war memorial in 1924. The hall was closed in 1965, to make room for Westway, and the war memorial removed to St. James's church, with other fittings. When it was found that the vestry had paid no money for the site, the Church rather than Westminster city council obtained compensation from the G.L.C. and spent the large sum in the 1970s on restoring St. Mary's church. (fn. 92)
A metropolitan vestry was elected under the Metropolis Local Management Act, 1855, a measure which the select vestry's parliamentary committee had opposed. (fn. 93) Paddington elected one member of the Metropolitan Board of Works. Parish government was left to a metropolitan vestry, consisting of the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers, a representative of the M.B.W., and 72 vestrymen, at first including William Robins; the members, one third of whom were to retire every year, represented four unnamed wards. Highway and finance committees were each to consist of the minister, parish officers, and 18 members, as before, and a standing sanitary and public health committee followed in 1856. (fn. 94)
The new metropolitan vestry continued to protect local interests against the G.W.R. Co. and the Grand Junction Canal Co., particularly over rate assessments, rights of way, and pollution. (fn. 95) It asked to be allowed to rate new buildings on part of St. George's burial ground and that Paddington should form a separate parliamentary borough, (fn. 96) it complained of inadequate policing and of the M.B.W.'s extravagence, and it opposed Bills for tramways through Bayswater and for equalization of the rates. (fn. 97) In 1868 it claimed that the lighting, general, church, vestry premises, and sewer rates, all for expenditure within the vestry's control, had not increased faster than new property had been brought into rating. (fn. 98)
In the 1870s Paddington achieved a reputation for progressive policies, exemplified in spending on a public laundry and baths and on street improvements. They were the work of a 'shopocracy' largely composed of rivals of William Whiteley and led by James Flood, chairman of the baths commissioners, whose estate agency may have been threatened by Whiteley's expansion into that field. Whiteley, with whom the vestry was often in dispute, chiefly over his plans to rebuild premises in Queen's Road next to the baths, had an ally in his own solicitor Charles Mills Roche, who was influential both in the vestry and the M.B.W. Flood's party was accused of penalizing the richest residents, Whiteley's best customers, through rate assessments. By supporting an existing ratepayers' association, Whiteley attacked fiercely in the vestry elections of 1879, with only partial success. Further struggles took place in 1880 and 1881, after Roche's suspension by the Law Society, although they did not prevent Whiteley from putting up more buildings in Queen's Road. Flood retired in 1883 and thereafter municipal spending was more restrained. (fn. 99)
Under the London Government Act, 1888, two members represented Paddington North and two represented Paddington South on the new L.C.C. (fn. 100) There were still 72 vestrymen elected by four wards in 1890, with finance, works, sanitary, legal, assessment, and electric lighting committees, besides a burial board and commissioners for public baths. From 1895 there were six wards: Harrow Road, Maida Vale, Church, Westbourne, Lancaster Gate, and Hyde Park. (fn. 101)
Paddington metropolitan borough was created under the London Government Act, 1899. (fn. 102) The borough council, incorporated in 1902, (fn. 103) consisted of a mayor, 9 aldermen, and 60 councillors for 8 wards: Queen's Park and the wards of the 1890s, Lancaster Gate having been divided. The first mayor was the contractor John Aird (1833-1911), who was created a baronet and who had moved in 1874 to no. 14 Hyde Park Terrace. (fn. 104) In 1903 the town hall, formerly the vestry hall, was the meeting place of the council twice monthly, and also of finance, works, public health, legal and parliamentary, assessment, cemetery, public baths, and libraries committees. (fn. 105) A new ward, Town, had been created by 1919; (fn. 106) thereafter, except during the 1920s when Westbourne was temporarily divided, the borough council always had 9 wards with 70 representatives until 1965, (fn. 107) when Paddington, under the London Government Act, 1963, joined Westminster and St. Marylebone in the new city of Westminster. (fn. 108)
Conservatives, at first called Moderates and from 1906 Municipal Reformers, controlled the council until 1945. (fn. 109) Often returned unopposed in Hyde Park, Lancaster Gate, and Maida Vale wards, (fn. 110) they won all 60 seats in 1922 and 1931 and never held less than 37, the number held in 1937. (fn. 111) Labour gained control with 34 seats in 1945 but lost it to the Conservatives in 1949 and thereafter remained in opposition. (fn. 112)
In the first metropolitan borough elections, of 1900 and 1903, a smaller percentage of the electorate voted in Paddington than in any other London borough. In 1906 41.3 per cent voted, more than in two other boroughs, in 1919 only 23.1 per cent, and in 1931 28.8 per cent. The turnout was close to London's average after the Second World War. (fn. 113)
The parliamentary borough of Marylebone included Paddington from 1832 until the constituencies of Paddington North and Paddington South were created under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885. The northern division, originally covering no. 2 ward, (fn. 114) was united with the southern before the general elections of 1974. Except in 1906 Paddington North returned a Conservative or Unionist until 1945, after which it remained a Labour seat. Members included Sir John Aird from 1887 to 1905 and Brendan, later Viscount, Bracken (1901-58) from 1929 to 1945. Paddington South always returned a Conservative, from 1885 until 1892 Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-95), (fn. 115) who lived at no. 2 Connaught Place. (fn. 116) The united Paddington constituency returned a Labour member in 1974 and a Conservative in 1979. (fn. 117) The same Conservative was returned for a new seat, Westminster North, which included Paddington except its south-eastern corner and stretched eastward over much of Marylebone, in 1983 and 1987. (fn. 118)
In 1906 a comparatively modest 73.7 per cent of the electorate voted in Paddington North and 72.1 per cent in Paddington South. The proportions fell to 60.3 and 55.7 per cent in 1935. Paddington North always had the larger turnout, the numbers differing as widely as 81 and 71.7 per cent in 1951. (fn. 119)