Camden Street, NW1

Place Name

Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (March 1714 – April 18, 1794) was a leading lawyer, judge, and Whig politician of his day. As a young man, he was struggling lawyer but in 1749 he secured his fortune by marrying heiress Elizabeth Jeffreys. She was the daughter of Nicholas Jeffreys, a wealthy Welsh merchant and owner of the manor of Kentish Town, who had died two years earlier. At the time Camden was a quiet country area supporting “fields of cows”, and for more than 40 years the couple did little with the land, only belatedly letting it out for the development of 1,400 houses in 1791. By now, Pratt was hugely successful. Some years earlier, in 1786, he had been created Earl Camden (elevated from Baron Camden) after his estate Camden Place in Chislehurst, Kent, now part of the London Borough of Bromley. He named the new development after his title – and several roads are named after him. Pratt, a close friend of William Pitt the Younger who he met at Eton, was a leading proponent of civil liberties, championing the rights of the jury, and limiting the powers of the state, he was involved in many of the biggest issues of the day, including the Regency crisis, following the madness of George III, and the American crisis of 1774 which led to the American War of Independence. Pratt was also granted a further peerage as Viscount Bayham to lend his son a courtesy title. The borough got its name in the 1960s when the new borough was created out of three smaller ones – Holborn, Hampstead and St Pancras. The then Clerk chose Camden after Camden Town, the geographical heart of the borough. Other names in consideration were Fleet Borough, after the river running from the Ponds to the Thames. Apparently the opposition Conservatives wanted something grander, the Royal Borough of Hampstead and Holborn, but this was rebuffed.


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