Monday 3 June 2024

John Thomas Smith, A Perambulation up and down St Martin's Lane. Part 1.


John Thomas Smith (1766 - 1833).

 A Perambulation up and down St Martin's Lane.

From Nollekens and his Times, Pub 1828.


Part 1

post under construction.

Addresses of JT Smith.

Gerrard Street Soho (in 1787?).

40 Frith Street, Soho (in 1797).

36 Newman Street, Oxford Street (publication address in 1805).

31 Castle Street, East Oxford Street (in 1808).

4 Polygon, Somers Town (in 1809).

3 Great May's Buildings, St Martin's Lane.

18 Great May's Buildings, St Martin's Lane (in 1810).

4 Chandos Street, Covent Garden, London (in 1815) Vagobondiana illustrations published here in 1819.

22 University Street, London (1833).

J.T. Smith's A Book for a Rainy Day, or recollections of the events of the years 1766-1833. was republished edited by W. Whitten in 1905 (first edition 1845).

See also F. Owen, 'John Thomas ('Antiquity') Smith: a Renaissance man for the Georgian age', in Apollo, 140 (1994), p.34-6; J.B. Nicholls, 'Biographical memoir of the author', in J.T.Smith, The cries of London (1839), p.ix-xv


Nathaniel Smith (1738 - 1809).

Father of JT Smith.

Former assistant to the sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac (d. 1762).

of the Rembrandt's Head, Great May's Buildings, St.Martin's Lane, London (in 1792-3, 1795, 1797-8).

8 May's Buildings, St Martin's Lane, London.


John Thomas Smith.

The author had been a studio-assistant of the sculptor Joseph Nollekens from 1779 to 1781. 

Commercially unsuccessful as a draughtsman and engraver of London views, he took the post of Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum in 1816; and in 1828 published the first edition of this biography. His account is less an appreciation of the sculptor than a 'warts-and-all' biography, with anecdotes of the London art-world at the end of the eighteenth century. (A supplementary account of Nollekens was published by A. Cunningham in 1830.)

John Thomas Smith Works -


Smith, John Thomas A Book for a Rainy Day or Recollections of the Events of the Years

1766-1833, ed. by W. Whitten, (London: Methuen & Co., 1905).

Smith, John Thomas, Ancient Topography of London; containing not only views of buildings, which in many instances no longer exist, and for the most part were never before published; but some account of places and customs either unknown, or overlooked by the London Historians, (London: J. McCreery, 1815).

Smith, John Thomas, Antiquities of London and its Environs; by John Thomas Smith:

Dedicated to Sir James Winter Lake, Bart. F.S.A. Containing views of Houses, Monuments, Statues, and other curious remains of Antiquity; engraved from the original subjects and from Original Drawings, Communicated by several Members of the Society of Antiquaries: With Remarks & References to the Historical Works of Pennant, Lysons, Stowe, Weaver, Camden, Maitland etc., (London: [1791-1800]).


Smith, John Thomas, Antiquities of Westminster; The Old Palace; St Stephen’s Chapel, (Now the House of Commons) &c. &c. Containing Two Hundred and Forty-Six Engravings of Topographical Objects, of which one hundred and twenty-two no longer remain. By John Thomas Smith. This work contains copies of manuscripts which throw new and unexpected light on the ancient history of the Arts in England, (London: T. Bensley, [1800-1807]).


 Smith, John Thomas, Tag, Rag and Bob-Tail! being Portraits of Sixteen Notorious Personages, (famous and infamous,) chiefly about Cromwell’s time; Copied, with Accuracy, from very scarce Original Prints; and now First Published; For I. T. Smith [sic], engraver of

The Antiquities of London, (London: J. Jones, 1800).

 Smith, John Thomas, The Cries of London: Exhibiting several of the Itinerant Traders of Antient [sic] and Modern Times. Copied from Rare Engravings or Drawn from the Life, with a Memoir and Portrait of the Author, ed. by J. Nichols, (London: John Bowyer Nichols and Son, 1839).

Smith, John Thomas, Vagabondiana; or, Anecdotes of Mendicant Wanderers through the Streets of London; with Portraits of the most Remarkable, Drawn from the Life by John Thomas Smith, Keeper of the Prints in the British Museum, (London: Published by the Proprietor: and sold by Messrs. J. and A. Arch, Cornhill; Mr. Hatchard, Bookseller to The Queen, Piccadilly; and Mr. Clarke, Bond-Street, 1817).

SMITH, John Thomas. Remarks on Rural Scenery with twenty etchings of cottages, from nature; and some observations and precepts relative to the pictoresque. June MDCCXCVII. printed [by Joseph Downes] for, and sold by Nathaniel Smith ancient Print seller at Rembrandts-Head May’s Buildings, St. Martin’s Lane, and J. T. Smith, at No 40 Frith Street Soho, 1797.


For Charing Cross and its Immediate Neighbourhood pub. 1906 see -


St Martin's Lane.

Richard Horwood's Map of 1799.


Excerpts from Nollekens and his Times, Pub. 1828. Part 1.

The easiest way for me to approach this article at this point is to post images of the relevant pages adding comments and illustrations as I proceed.

John Beard (1716 - 91).

73 St Martin's Lane West Side on the Corner with  Great Newport St.

Beard had begun his career singing in the choir of the Chapel Royal where King George II and his family attended services. There he was discovered by George Frederick Handel,  and at 18 he made his operatic debut in Handel's Pastor Fido at Covent Garden. 

Within a few years Beard was the rage of the faction that supported Handel's English singers against the Italian "castrati" of the rival Haymarket company.

' In 1743, Beard became a member of the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks, founded around 1735 by John Rich, the proprietor of Covent Garden theatre, his scene painter George Lambert and William Hogarth. 

The members met on Saturdays at Covent Garden theatre to eat and drink, and Beard remained a member until his death. He served as President on a number of occasions.


His marriage, in January 1739, to the widow Lady Henrietta Herbert, only daughter of James Waldegrave, 1st Earl Waldegrave caused much scandal: Lord Egmont commented that "there is no prudence below the girdle".

 Lady Henrietta died in 1753, and in February 1758 Beard married again. His second wife was Charlotte Rich, a daughter of tpessario John Rich. After John Rich's death in 1761, Beard took over the management of Covent Garden theatre until such time as it was sold, in accordance with the terms of Rich's will. The theatre was eventually sold for £60,000 in 1767, and the money was divided equally between Rich's widow and his four daughters.


1767 was also the year when increasing deafness forced Beard to retire. He had been appointed 'Vocal performer in extraordinary' by George III in 1764,[2] and the salary of £100 p.a. allowed him to live comfortably in retirement at Hampton, where he died in 1791.

John Beard

Mezzotint after Williams by Faber.
Image courtesy V and A 

John Beard 

Mezzotint by McArdle after Thomas Hudson.

Image Courtesy British Museum.



James Paine and his son.

Joshua Reynolds.


Ashmolean Museum. Oxford.

The Pavement, 76 St Martins Lane.

Paine remodelled the frontage of the house which appears to have later been divided in two

James Paine (1725–1789) was the architect of many country houses. His son followed in his profession. Reynolds painted a companion portrait in 1764, showing Mrs Paine and her two daughters (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight). 

Here, Paine shows his plans for a pavilion for the 9th Duke of Norfolk at Worksop Manor. The seal of the charter of the Society of Artists, of which James Paine was President, can be seen above the sitters.


Mrs Paine and her Daughters

Joshua Reynolds, 1765.

Lady Lever Art Gallery

When Lever purchased this painting in 1918 it carried the title ‘Portraits of the Misses Paine’. Mrs Paine, who is seen on the left supervising her daughters at the piano, had been painted out of the picture and would not have been visible to Lever at all.


The painting was once owned by art dealer CJ Wertheimer. He felt that a picture of two beautiful young girls was worth far more on the market than a picture of two beautiful young girls and an elderly matron, and so he had Mrs Paine removed. In 1935, the Lady Lever Trustees took the decision to remove the over painting and restored the picture to Reynolds’s original composition.

Note Dr Benjamin Golding, was the founder of Charing Cross Hospital.


Old Slaughter's Coffee House.

74 and 75 St Martin's Lane.

The house of James Paine.


Undated Image above by Herbert Railton (1857 - 1910).

Probably fanciful - it appears that most of this side of the street was demolished in 1843.

Showing the Bow windowed frontage of Old Slaughters and the house of James Paine.

As yet I have been unable to locate any further images of houses on the Pavement - the west side of St Martins Lane except for George Scharf's two drawings of  Allen the colourman's premises on the pavement at 96 St Martin's Lane (British Museum).


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