Originally from Wrexham, north Wales, Robert Waithman (1764 – February 6, 1833) came to London to work in for a linen draper and went on to become a popular and respected Lord Mayor of London and liberal MP. In 1786, he left his employment to set up on his own and became hugely successful and wealthy in the process. His shop on the corner of Fleet Street and Ludgate Circus became so well known it was called Waithman’s Corner. He took an interest in politics and became a Liberal MP for the City in 1818. When he lost the seat two years later he was appointed Sheriff of the City of London and in 1823 elected Lord Mayor, one of his duties being to guard the body of Queen Caroline on her journey to the coast. Returning to Parliament in 1926 he sat in the Commons until his death. An obelisk erected by his friends in Ludgate Circus, adjoining the site of his first shop, commemorated his memory with the words “the friend of liberty in evil times”. The obelisk today forms the main monument in Salisbury Square.
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