Gordon Street, WC1H

Place Name

The Russell family, dukes of Bedford, inherited the district of Bloomsbury in 1669. They built it up over the course of the next two hundred years, naming many of its streets and squares after family members or connections. This is no exception, however there are two contenders for the name. The first is Georgiana Gordon, Duchess of Bedford (July 18, 1781 – February 24, 1853), the second wife of the 6th Duke of Bedford; alternatively, her grandfather, Cosmo George Gordon (April 27, 1720 – August 5, 1752), 3rd Duke of Gordon. Either way it’s a family name and comes from the Scottish Clan Gordon, also known as the House of Gordon, which during the 13thCentury supported William Wallace in the Scottish battle of independence. The first Gordon on record is Richard of Gordon, who is said to have been the grandson of a famous knight who slew a monster in the Merse during the time of King Malcolm III of Scotland. The dukedom was created in 1684 for the 4th Marquess of Huntly, himself already titled Earl of Huntly and Enzie, Viscount of Inverness, and Lord Strathaven, Balmore, Auchindoun, Garthie and Kincardine. The street itself, and several of those surrounding it, was developed by Thomas Cubitt, in the early 19thCentury. On one plan of London dating to 1827, it appears as Wriothesley Street (another Russell connection), while Greenwood’s map of 1830 calls it William Street. By 1869 it had been renamed. Prior to its development this area had been fields, as shown on John Rocque’s 1746 map. Upper Gordon Street was, for a time, applied to its northern section. Most of Cubitt’s original houses have now been replaced by university buildings.


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