Duke Street St James’s, SW1Y

Place Name

Like the parallel Duke of York Street, after James, Duke of York (October 14, 1633 – September 16, 1701), later King James II and VII, the second surviving son of Charles I, and the last Stuart monarch in the male line. He was formally created the Duke of York in 1644. After the restoration of his brother Charles II to the English throne in 1660, he was also created duke of Albany. He became lord high admiral and did much to improve the efficiency and organisation of the navy. He also showed considerable interest in colonial ventures; it was on his initiative that New Amsterdam was seized from the Dutch in 1664 and renamed New York in his honour. He became King of England and King of Ireland as James II, and King of Scotland as James VII after Charles’s death in 1685. Despite being a Catholic, he ascended the throne with widespread support. Though Parliament’s tolerance of his personal Catholicism didn’t extend to Catholicism in general and they refused to pass many of his measures. Only 3 years later he was deposed by his daughter Mary, later Queen Mary II and her husband, William of Orange, later William III in what has been called the Glorious Revolution, thus ending a century of political and civil strife in England by confirming the primacy of the English Parliament over the Crown. As to how the street got its name, it was built by Henry Jermyn (hence Jermyn Street) in about 1673 as part of a scheme of streets leading to St James’s Square. Building on St James’s Field, which he had received from Charles II as a reward for loyalty during the king’s exile, to show his gratitude Jermyn named a number of local streets including this one after the reigning king and the duke: Charles II Street, King Street and Duke of York Street. When it was first laid out it was just Duke Street, the St James’s part seems to have started appearing on maps from the mid-20th century, presumably to distinguish it from Duke Street, Marylebone.


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