Milton Place, N7

Place name

First occupied 1843. Although named after the poet John Milton the connection is with his granddaughter Elizabeth Foster who ran a small grocery store selling household items such as oil, soap, paint, and groceries, at Lower Holloway. This fact surprised John Nelson who wrote in The History, Topography and Antiquities of the Parish of St Mary Islington: “Mrs Foster, granddaughter of Milton, the immortal author of Paradise Lost, kept a chandler’s shop! (sic) at Lower Holloway some years, and died at Islington, May 9, 1754, in the 66th year of her age; and by her death all Milton’s family became extinct. She had lived many years in a low way, and was at last depressed with poverty and the infirmities of old age. It does not appear that any of her grandfather’s admirers took any notice of her until 1750, when on the 5th April of that year, Comms was represented at Drury-lane theatre, with a new prologue written by Johnson, and spoken by Garrick, for her benefit, which produced her about £130.” John Milton (December 9, 1608 –  November 8, 1674) was a poet best known for Paradise Lost, an epic poem telling the biblical tale of the Fall of Man, covering the temptation of Adam and Eve, and which is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written. He was born in Bread Street, in the City, the son of John Milton and his wife Sarah Jeffrey. His father became a successful scrivener, preparing documents for legal transactions, when he was disinherited for rejecting his own father’s staunch Roman Catholic beliefs. This business made him successful and wealthy enough for his son to go to university and travel. The younger Milton himself was a republican, and when he heard that England was on the verge of civil war cut short a European tour to return home. He wrote several major political works during this time; and as 34-year-old married Mary Powell, aged 17. The union was not a happy one, Mary left him soon after the wedding. Despite going on to have four children together, the marriage never recovered, leading Milton to pen Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, followed by The Judgment of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce. The so-called Divorce Tracts earned him the derisive nickname Milton the Divorcer. Meanwhile with the royalists defeated Milton got himself a job as Secretary for the Foreign Tongues, for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. The job offered with it a salary and lodgings at Scotland Yard. For all his writings, Milton never got divorced, but Mary died in childbirth. Two more marriages followed. Later with the return of monarchy, he was briefly imprisoned by Charles II. Towards the end of his life he published Paradise Lost, followed, soon after, by Paradise Regained. The exact date and location of Milton’s death remain unknown; he likely died in London, from complications of the gout (possibly renal failure) or possibly from consumption. He was buried inside St Giles Cripplegate Church.

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