Lincoln's Inn Fields: Nos. 33 and 34

Pages 35-38

Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1912.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section

IV. and V.—Nos. 33 and 34 LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.

Ground landlords.

The Commissioners of His Majesty's Works and Public Buildings.

General description and date of structure.

The original houses on the site of Nos. 33 and 34 were built in accordance with the agreement entered into in 1657 between the Society of Lincoln's Inn and Sir William Cowper, Robert Henley and James Cowper (see pp. 11–12). The houses are shown as occupied in the ratebook for 1660. We may, therefore, with reasonable probability, assign their erection to the year 1659. While the recent demolition was in progress inspections were made in order to ascertain how much 17th-century work was then in existence. From the construction of the party-wall on the east side of No. 33 it would appear that this and also a small piece of the cross wall were the only remaining portions of the original buildings.

Extensive alterations were apparently made to No. 33 in the first half of the 18th century, (fn. 1) when the panelling to the various rooms was completed and the later staircases were constructed.

About 1824–5 Sir John Soane was engaged in modernising the front rooms and constructing an additional storey. He also connected the building with the Insolvent Debtors' Court at the rear, which was in course of erection at that date. (fn. 2) One peculiar feature of the additional storey was that the Queen-post roof trusses were left in position, the tie beams showing above the floor level.

The plans of the ground and first floors are shown on Plates 19 and 20.

Plate 21 shows the deal staircase and panelling at the first floor level, and Plate 22 gives the balustrade at the second floor. The staircase had Corinthian pillars as newels, twisted balusters and carved brackets. The handrail was ramped to the newels and formed a feature of the staircase. Plate 23 shows the small back room on the first floor. The walls were deal panelled with "bolection" or projecting mouldings, and the stepping back of the angle chimney breast for china shelves was interesting. The design of this small chimneypiece (excepting the shelf, which is modern) may have been based on one of Daniel Marot's designs. (fn. 3)

No. 34 may be ascribed chiefly to the first years of the 19th century, although some portions, such as the two Ionic columns in the front room on the ground floor, were perhaps 50 years earlier.

Both houses were demolished in 1911.

A sample length of the staircase and a chimneypiece from the second floor front room of No. 33 have been preserved by H.M. Office of Works for inclusion in the London Museum.

Historical notes.

From the ratebooks it would appear that the occupants of Nos. 33 and 34 up to the year 1810 were as follows:—

No. 33.
1660–87. The Lords Coventry.
1688–92. John Bennett.
1694. Countess of Northumberland.
1695–1703. Sir Humphrey Winch.
1704–8. (fn. 5) Mr. Butler.
1709–30. W.Borrett.
1730–37. J. Verney.
1749–55. Sir Robert Henley (afterwards Earl of Northington).
1756–81. Lord Walsingham.
1782–99. Lady Walsingham.
1800– Sir James Alan Park.
No. 34.
1660–63. Lord Strangford.
1664. Mrs. Montagu.
1665–1706. Sir William Montagu. (fn. 4)
1707–15. John Ward.
1716–39. Benjamin Styles.
1740. Madame Styles.
1743–49. Madame Horn.
1750–55. Alexander Hume Cambell.
1756–57. Sir Robert Henley (afterwards Earl of Northington).
1758–75. Lord Camden.
1776–8. Morris Robinson.
1779–98. Sir Francis Buller.
1800– John Vivian.

The title "Lord Coventry" given in the ratebooks in respect of No. 33 from 1660 to 1687 must refer to three individuals:—Thomas, 2nd Baron Coventry, who died in 1661; his son George, the 3rd Baron, who died in 1680; and his grandson John, the 4th Baron, whose death occurred in 1687. The deaths of the 2nd and 3rd barons are recorded as having taken place in Lincoln's Inn Fields, (fn. 6) but no information is available as to the place of death of the 4th.

For particulars concerning Robert Henley, Earl of Northington, see under No. 41, Lincoln's Inn Fields.

William de Grey, 1st Baron Walsingham, born in 1719, was called to the Bar in 1742. He entered Parliament in 1761 as member for Newport, Cornwall, and proved himself a powerful supporter of Lord North's party. In 1763 he was appointed solicitor-general, and attorney-general in 1766 (when he was knighted). In the latter capacity he conducted the proceedings against Wilkes in 1768. In 1771 he was made lord chief justice of the common pleas. In that year Brass Crosby, Lord Mayor of London, had been imprisoned in the Tower by order of the House of Commons for his action in releasing a printer who had been arrested on charge of printing the Parliamentary debates. On Crosby being brought before him to his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields (fn. 7) on a writ of habeas corpus, de Grey refused to interfere with the privileges of Parliament. He resigned his position in 1780 owing to infirm health, and was shortly after raised to the peerage as Baron Walsingham He died in the following year.

Sir James Alan Park was the son of an Edinburgh surgeon. He was called to the Bar in 1784, and obtained a very extensive practice, to which his Treatise on the Law of Marine Insurance, published in 1787, under the encouragement of his friend, Lord Mansfield, at first largely contributed. (fn. 8) He was made king's counsel in 1799, and in 1816 was promoted to the bench of the common pleas and knighted. He died at his house in Bedford Row, Bloomsbury, in December, 1838, aged 75 years. His residence at No. 33 had lasted from 1800 to 1820 or 1821.

Sir William Montagu was a son of Edward, 1st Baron Montagu of Boughton. He was called to the Bar in 1641. In 1640 he represented Huntingdon in the Short Parliament, and was subsequently a member of the Parliaments of 1660 and 1661. In the ratebook for 1665 "Mr. Attorney Montagu" is shown as the occupier of No. 34, (fn. 9) and the entries for the whole, or at least all but one, of the next 41 years seem to relate to the same individual. In 1676 the name changes to "Lord Chief Baron Montagu," in accordance with the fact that in that year he was created lord chief baron of the exchequer. In April, 1686, he declined to give an unqualified opinion in favour of the dispensing power, and was removed from office. Accordingly in the 1687 ratebook he is entered as "Late Lord Chief Justice Baron Montagu." He retired to the Bar, where he practised as sergeant, and died in 1706. There can, therefore, be little doubt that the "Mr. Montagu" or "Hon. Mr. Montagu" who is shown as occupying the house from 1688 to 1706 (with the exception of the year 1699, when "Lord Montagu" (fn. 10) is given) is identical with Sir William.

Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, was third son of Sir John Pratt, chief justice of the king's bench, and was born at Kensington in 1714. He took up the legal profession, but "not inviting attorneys to dine with him, and never dancing with their daughters," his practice remained for several years so limited that he seriously contemplated abandoning the law. His opportunity, when it came, he owed to his friend Robert Henley, who fell, or feigned to fall, ill and left him as the junior the entire conduct of the case, in which he showed such conspicuous ability as to establish his reputation. (fn. 11) In 1755 he was made king's counsel, and in 1757 followed Henley as attorney general. He was already resident in Lincoln's Inn Fields, for the ratebooks for 1756 and 1757 show him as occupying No. 56. In the latter year or in 1758 he succeeded his friend Henley in the occupation of No. 34, which house formed his residence for the next 18 years. In 1761 he was appointed chief justice of the court of common pleas and was knighted. Soon after he was called upon to decide, in the Wilkes controversy, the great question of the legality of general warrants, and his opinion that such were contrary to the fundamental principles of the constitution earned him immense popularity. In 1765 he was elevated to the peerage by the title of Lord Camden, Baron of Camden (fn. 12), and in the following year was made lord chancellor. This position he held until the beginning of 1770, in spite of the fact that he was in disagreement with his colleagues both in regard to America and the case of Wilkes. He did not again take office until 1782, when he became president of the council in the second Rockingham administration, an office which, with one short interval, he retained until his death, in 1794, at his house in Hill Street. (fn. 13) In 1786 he was raised to the dignity of an earl. He had removed from Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1775.


Sir Francis Buller, third son of James Buller, of Morval, Cornwall, was called to the Bar in 1772, and in the same year published the first English edition of his Introduction to the Law relative to Trials at Nisi Prius. His rise was rapid. In 1777 he was created a king's counsel, and in the following year a puisne judge of the king's bench. He was only 32 years old, and is said to have been the youngest man ever created an English judge. In this or the next year he took up his residence at No. 34, Lincoln's Inn Fields, his name appearing in the ratebook for 1779. His conduct on the bench frequently provoked criticism. The story that he had asserted the right of a husband to beat his wife, provided that the stick was no bigger than his thumb, was commonly believed, and suggested to Gillray his caricature of Buller as Judge Thumb published in November, 1782. There does not, however, appear to be any evidence that he ever expressed such an opinion. (fn. 14) During the last two years of Lord Mansfield's life he was really the chief justice. His claims to the position, however, did not receive recognition, and Kenyon was selected, Buller being consoled in 1790 with a baronetcy. He died in June, 1800, at his house in Bedford Square. (fn. 15) He had removed from Lincoln's Inn Fields apparently in 1798.

In the Council's collection are:—

* Nos. 33, 34.—Plan of ground floor (measured drawing).
* Nos. 33, 34.—Plan of first floor (measured drawing).
Nos. 33, 34.—Exterior (photograph).

* No. 33.—Staircase and panelling at first floor level (photograph).
* No. 33.—Balustrading at second floor (photograph).
* No. 33.—Small back room on first floor (photograph).


  • 1. The ratebooks show the house was empty from 1738 to 1748, and the architectural evidence is quite consistent with the work having been done in that interval.
  • 2. The ratebook for 1822 shows "J. Massey" as the occupier of No. 33, and in the following year the entry is expanded to "Massey for Insolvent Debtors' Court." The Court premises were in the parish of St. Clement Danes, and details with regard to them are accordingly deferred for the volume of the Survey of London dealing with that parish.
  • 3. He executed several works at Hampton Court and published many of his designs. One of very similar character is figured as No. 10, page 136, of Marot's Designs, republished in Berlin in 1892.
  • 4. See p. 37.
  • 5. Only shown for the years 1704, 1707, 1708.
  • 6. G. E. C[ockayne's] Peerage of the United Kingdom.
  • 7. See letter dated 5th April, 1771, in Letters of the First Earl of Malmesbury, his family and friends, 1745–1820, I., p. 225.
  • 8. Foss's Judges of England, IX., p. 229.
  • 9. It was two years after this that Pepys met him and his wife, "a fine woman," at Sir G. Carteret's, No. 57–58, Lincoln's Inn Fields. (Diary, 30 December, 1667.)
  • 10. Was this title given to Sir William in reminiscence of his former office as lord chief baron?
  • 11. Campbell's Lives of the Lord Chancellors, V., pp. 233–234.
  • 12. Collins' Peerage of England (5th edn.), viii., p. 237.
  • 13. Foss's Judges of England, VIII., p. 363.
  • 14. Ibid., VIII., pp. 251–2.
  • 15. Ibid., VIII., p. 254.