At the junction of this road and the High Road once stood the Black House, a medieval townhouse owned by Sir Hugh Smithson of Tottenham, whose grandson and heir, also Sir Hugh Smithson, became the inheritor of the fortune and lands of the Percy family in 1740. The Percys had been one of England’s leading noble and landowning families since the time of the Norman Conquest, its members having held the title of the Earls of Northumberland, since 1377. Sir Hugh, who served as three-time MP for Middlesex, took a somewhat prominent part in politics as a follower of Lord Bute, one of George III’s confidential advisers, and holder of the offices of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1763 to 1765, and that of Master of the Horse from 1778 to 1780. He was also a founding governor of the first Middlesex hospital on Windmill Street. In 1766 he was created the Duke of Northumberland. William Robinson, writing in 1818, says that King Henry VIII is known to have frequently visited the house. He says, in 1631, it was owned by Sir Gerard Gore and occupied by Sir John Coke, Secretary of State. It had been demolished for at least 70 years by the time Robinson was writing and a row of terraces, called Northumberland Row, since erected on its site. This street itself used to be called Marsh Lane, and was built in the late 1850s. The Percys’ ancestor, Sir Henry Percy, commonly known as ‘Harry Hotspur’, inspired local football club, Tottenham Hotspur’s name and its famous emblem of a fighting cock.
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