No. 40 Queen Anne's Gate

Pages 106-107

Survey of London: Volume 10, St. Margaret, Westminster, Part I: Queen Anne's Gate Area. Originally published by [s.n.], [s.l.], 1926.

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In this section

XLVI.—No. 40 QUEEN ANNE'S GATE: (Formerly No. 1 Queen Square).

Ground Landlord.

The freehold belongs to Mr. Alexander Murray Smith, who is also the occupier.

General Description of Structure.

On 5th April, 1726, the South Sea Company Trustees sold (fn. n1) to John Dive two houses in Queen Square. One of these (for which the purchase price was £790) is said to have been at the time in Dive's own occupation, and is described as the ninth house on the north side of the square, (fn. n2) 38 feet in front and 27 feet 8 inches deep, "which messuage containeth three stories in height, and two rooms and a large closett on a floore, and garretts on the roof, with a kitchen, washhouse and other conveniences below stairs, and iron railings before the front of the said messuage," as well as vaults and a small yard.

At the present time the two lower storeys are stuccoed, a work which was probably carried out when the entrance porch was added. The keystones to the two principal floors have carved masks, while the usual flat bands indicate the floor levels.

The premises internally contain little of interest. The staircase has turned balusters and moulded close strings and a heavily moulded wood cornice to the landings.

In the basement is some oak panelling which is of an earlier date than the house, and was probably brought from some other premises.

Fixed on the exterior of the premises are portions of three ornamental lead cisterns (Plate 124). One with the date 1745 and the letters I.D.D. is stated to have been used in the house. The letters probably represent the initials of John and Dorothy Dive.

Condition of Repair.

Very good.

Historical Notes.

The occupiers of this house up to 1840 were, according to the ratebooks, as follows:—

1706–67 John Dive.
1768–73 Hon. Dorothy Dive.
1775–78 Col. Wm. Wynyard [Vineyard].
1779–96 Louis Geo. Dive.
1797 John Babb
1798–1801 Humphry Babb.
1804–05 Wm. Phillips.
1807–09 John Manners.
1810–13 George Manners. (fn. n3)
1814–31 Jas. Mills.
1832– Dr. John Bowring.

The "James Mills" of the ratebooks was James Mill, the well-known philosopher, born in 1773 in Forfarshire. Although the son of a country shoemaker, he was enabled by the patronage of Sir John Stuart to study at Edinburgh University, where he became distinguished as a Greek scholar. In 1802 he came to London to pursue a literary career, but after one or two short experiences in editing, he was compelled for some years to make a more or less precarious livelihood by reviewing and miscellaneous work. In 1818 his History of India appeared, and was at once successful. In the following year he entered the service of the East India Company, and in 1830 attained the headship of his particular office in India House. He died in 1836. In addition to many important contributions to reviews and magazines, he wrote Elements of Political Economy, Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind and Fragment on Mackintosh. The first and second, as well as the History of India, were produced at the house in Queen Square. His residence here began in 1814, when his friend, Bentham, let him the house (fn. n4) (first at £50 a year, afterwards increased to £100 when Mill could afford the full rent), and lasted until 1831 (fn. n5) when he removed to Kensington. During the whole of this period Mill's famous son (John Stuart Mill), born in 1806, was a member of the household.

Mill was succeeded in his occupation of No. 1 Queen Square by John (afterwards Sir John) Bowring (another friend of Jeremy Bentham), born in 1792. On leaving school he adopted a mercantile career, in the course of which he travelled extensively in Europe. In 1828 he was sent by the Government to Holland and afterwards to France to report on the system of keeping the public accounts. He gave such satisfaction that he was appointed secretary to the commission for inspecting the accounts of the United Kingdom, and the reports which he made in that connection were the means of instituting great improvements in the system adopted.

In 1831 he was appointed one of the two commissioners to investigate the commercial relations between Great Britain and France, and from 1832 to 1837 was employed on various commercial missions in Europe and the Near East. He became one of the founders of the Anti-Corn-Law League, and in 1841 entered Parliament, principally with the object of furthering the aims of the League. In 1847 he obtained the position of Consul at Canton, and, except when on leave, spent the next twelve years in the East. In 1854 he was appointed plenipotentiary to China and Governor of Hong Kong, was accredited to the Courts of Japan, Siam, Cochin-China and Korea, and received the honour of knighthood. The firm attitude which he adopted against the Chinese Government on the occasion of an outrage committed on a ship carrying the British flag was gravely criticised, and a vote of censure proposed by Cobden, his former friend, was carried against the Government. Lord Palmerston appealed to the country, which endorsed Bowring's action. In 1857 he and his family were poisoned by the Chinese. Lady Bowring's constitution was so impaired that she had to return to England, where she died soon after her arrival, and Sir John did not entirely recover from the effects of the poison for some years. In 1859 he returned to this country for good, suffering shipwreck on the way. He died in 1872.

Bowring was a marvellous linguist. He contributed largely to magazines and reviews, was the first editor of the Westminster Review, and wrote many poems and hymns. His foreign honours and academic distinctions were numerous. The doctorate by which he is distinguished in the ratebooks was the LL.D. of Groningen, which was conferred on him in 1829.

In the Council's Collection are:—

(fn. n6) General view of exterior (photograph).
(fn. n6) General view of lead-cistern faces (photograph).


  • n1. Close Roll, 5317.
  • n2. The whole of the cul-de-sac at the west end of the square was included in the "north side," which thus comprised Nos. 26 to 42 (Nos. 9 to 15, 1 and 2 Queen Square), No. 40 (No. 1 Queen Square) being the 9th, since the site of No. 34 was occupied by two houses.
  • n3. On 27th December, 1805, Lewis George Dive, of Tavistock Street, Bedford Square, leased (for 40 years) to George Manners "all that messuage, tenement or dwelling house, now in occupation of the said George Manners, situate on the south-east (? west) side of Queen Square, being numbered 1." (Middlesex Memorials, 1812, III., 788.)
  • n4. Bentham had taken from George Dive a lease of the house for 31¾ years from Christmas 1813, at a rent of £55 5s. (Middlesex Memorials, 1814, III., 198.)
  • n5. A letter from Mill to Lord Brougham, dated 5th February, 1831, was written from the house in Queen Square. (Bain's James Mill, p. 358.)
  • n6. Reproduced here.