James Street, WC2E

place name

The infant prince James (October 14, 1633 – September 16, 1701), later King James II and VII, son of Charles I, reigning king when this street opened in 1631. It was built as part of the development of the 4th Earl of Bedford’s Soho estate by architect Inigo Jones. As to how it got its name, it was down to a judicious bit of toadying by Bedford who had gone against Charles I’s edict that there should be no new development within the capital. Having gone against the royal proclamation he was threatened with a writ by the highest court in the land, the Star Chamber, the judicial arm of the King’s Council. Bedford managed to get special dispensation to develop his Soho estate upon which he tactfully dedicated a number of streets to the monarch and his family. Among the others were: King Street after Charles I himself, Charles Street (today, Wellington Street) after James’s brother, Charles, later Charles II, and Henrietta Street after Charles I’s wife, Henrietta Maria. James was King of England and King of Ireland as James II, and King of Scotland as James VII  from the death of his elder brother, Charles II, on February 6, 1685. Despite being a Catholic, he ascended the throne with widespread support in England, Scotland and Ireland. Though Parliament’s tolerance of his personal Catholicism didn’t extend to Catholicism in general and they refused to pass many of his measures. His disposition, only 3 years later by his daughter Mary, later Queen Mary II in what has been called the Glorious Revolution, ended a century of political and civil strife in England by once and for all confirming the primacy of the English Parliament over the Crown.






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