Islington Idol: The borough’s famous past residents
The borough of Islington is known to be home to many celebrities. That’s nothing new: its history boasts an array of famous and important figures…
Caroline Chisholm (1808 – 1877)
Caroline Chisholm, known for her involvement in female immigrant welfare in Australia, lived at 32 Charlton Place during her time in London, just off Upper Street in Islington Green. She assisted about 14,000 people to migrate to New South Wales, Australia, establishing work agencies and homes for struggling female immigrants. In Britain, she founded the Family Colonization Loan Company, a firm that lend money to families wanting to emigrate to the other side of the world. Chisholm, who is often referred to as ‘the emigrant’s friend’, is recognized as a saint in the Church of England.
The painter of ‘Marriage-á-la-Mode’, ‘The Shrimp Girl’ and ‘The Graham Family’, displayed in the National Gallery, was born and lived at Bartholomew Close, opposite the old church of Bartholomew-the-Less, between Barbican and St Paul’s station. William Hogarth is best known for his series paintings, which are characterised by satire and hidden social critique and regarded as pioneering cartoons. In 1757 the engraver was appointed Serjeant Painter to the King. He was buried at St. Nicholas’s Churchyard, Chiswick. He is regarded as one of the most influential British painters of the 18th century.
In 1945, five years before his death, the famous novelist lived at 27B Canonbury Square, not far from Highbury & Islington Station, with his wife Eileen Maud Blair and their adopted son Richard. Born as Eric Arthur Blair in British India, he went to the UK in 1912 to become one of Britain’s most famous writers. The author of Nineteen Eighty-Four was well-known for his support of socialism and his thoughts on social injustice, prevalent in his works. He is buried in All Saints’ Churchyard in Oxfordshire.
Sir Walter Raleigh (1554 – 1618)
As one of the most notable figures of the Elizabethan era, Raleigh was known not only for popularising tobacco in England, but also as a writer, a poet, a politician, a spy and an explorer. His house stood at 100 Upper Street,Angel. Apart from making expeditions to North and South America to establish English colonies, Raleigh spent a large part of his life imprisoned. First, he was sent to the Tower of London for a few months because he married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting, without the Queen’s permission. Later, he spent 13 years there for being involved in the Main Plot against King James I, during which he wrote History of the World and finally, he was arrested and executed by the Spaniards in 1618. A small tobacco pouch was found in his cell shortly after his execution, on which were engraved the words: “It was my companion at that most miserable time”. The capital of the US state North Carolina, Raleigh, was named after him.
Chamberlain, regarded as one of Britain’s most influential politicians of the late 19th and early 20th century, lived at 25 Highbury Place during his time in London, with the green of Highbury Fields right on his doorstep. The radical Liberal Party member, who became the Mayor of Birmingham and later joined the House of Commons to become Trade Secretary, fought relentless for reforms in the social and the health care system as well as for the foundation of Birmingham University. He is the father of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and foreign minister and Austen Chamberlain, recipient of the Nobel peace prize. Joseph Chamberlain was laid to rest in Key Hill Cemetery in his home town of Birmingham.
Islington can claim a connection to Oliver Twist too. It was at 69-71 Amwell Street, that Charles Dickens’ famous character was brought to life through Cruikshank’s illustrations for the book. But the cartoonist and book illustrator, who lived in Angel from 1824 to 1849, did more than painting for his friend Dickens. He was renowned for his many caricatures of English life for popular publications; his paintings were characterised by his great patriotism and racism. In his lifetime he created more than 10,000 paintings and illustrations. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetry, West London.
A famous name from school chemistry, and resident of Islington. From 1862 Michael Faraday lived at 7 Barnsbury Grove, between Caledonian Road & Barnsbury and Highbury & Islington station, which at that time did not exist. In his lifetime, he conducted more than 30.000 experiments and wrote over 450 scientific articles. His main discoveries include electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. He is regarded as one of Britain’s leading chemical analysts. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery, Camden.
Edward Irving (1792-1837)
The roots of the Catholic Apostolic church are in Islington. One of its founding figures, Edward Irving, lived at 3 Claremont Square, just off Pentonville Road in Angel. Having moved from Scotland to London, Irving was ordained at Caledonian Church, Hatton Garden, in 1822, and became a popular preacher. However, after he and his followers became obsessed with a rapidly approaching apocalypse, he was excommunicated in 1832. He was known to have an extraordinary capacity for self-dramatization and charisma. Out of the movement, often also referred to as Irvingism, later evolved the New Apostolic church, which is popular particularly in Germany and the Netherlands.
Who did we miss? Do you live somewhere that used to house a famous Islingtonian? Let us know in the comments!