Townshend Road, TW9

Place Name

Thomas Townshend (June 2, 1701 – May 21, 1780) married Albinia Selwyn, daughter of John Selwyn, who owned huge swathes of Richmond, in 1730. Townshend was the son of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend, a Whig statesman who served for a decade as Secretary of State for the Northern Department. He directed British foreign policy in close collaboration with his brother-in-law, prime minister Robert Walpole. But he was more famously known as Turnip Townshend because of his strong interest in farming turnips and his role in the British Agricultural Revolution. Thomas and Albinia lived at Frognal House near Sidcup, in Kent. But in 1739 Albinia died leaving her husband to bring up their five children. Their eldest son also called Thomas Townshend (February 24, 1733 – June 30, 1800) later became the 1st Baron Sydney after following his father into politics as a Whig MP. He became Home Secretary and was raised to the peerage, choosing Baron Sydney as his title. As time passed, Jasper Selwyn inherited the Selwyns’ Richmond properties, he was a cousin of the 3rd Viscount Sydney, who was himself created Earl Sydney of Scadbury, Kent, in 1874, and as the grandson of the 1st Lord Sydney had inherited the family’s estates in Matson, Gloucestershire and Chislehurst, Kent. The Selwyns called many roads after family connections and this was originally Townshend Villas when it was named in 1865. On June 17, 1879 the Vestry voted “that the road by Trinity Church by called Trinity Road”. The Selwyns clearly not used to such impertinence fired off a lawyer’s letter saying that all the houses on the street were called Townshend Villas, so on June 22, 1880 they voted to change the name again to become Townshend Road.


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