James Burton (July 29, 1761 – March 31, 1837) was one of most successful developers in Regency and Georgian London, building up much of the West End in the 18thCentury. A key player in the rapid residential development of Bloomsbury in the 19thCentury, Burton is responsible for many of the streets and squares the district is famous for today, including Bedford Square, Russell Square, Bloomsbury Square, Tavistock Square, and Cartwright Gardens. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says that Burton not only built but lived on this street in the late 18thCentury. He was born on the Strand, as James Haliburton (he later shortened his surname to Burton following a family dispute), the son of William Haliburton, a London property developer of Scottish descent, and Mary Foster. He was educated at a day school in Covent Garden before being privately tutored and receiving architectural training. He had four children, one of whom was the Egyptologist James Haliburton, who may have been born here in 1788. The area is still fields on John Rocque’s 1746 map. The street appears laid out but unnamed on the 1819 revision of Horwood’s 1799 plan, and the adjoining Cartwright Gardens was at the time called Burton Crescent. On the 1896 Ordnance Survey map the street is still unnamed; though by the 1916 edition it is called Crescent Place, in reference to the shape of Cartwright Gardens. It was renamed after Burton sometime in the early 20thCentury. By the time of his death Burton had built over 3,000 properties.
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