Monday 18 December 2023

Dukes Court, St Martin's Lane and its inhabitants.

 Short history Duke's Court, St Martin's Lane and its occupants in the 18th/19th Centuries.


The Mordern and Lea Map of 1685.

If this map is to be trusted entirely it shows buildings on the North side of Dukes Court backing onto The new St Martin's Church yard.

It also shows no 76 as Dukes Yard - it would appear that these buildings were demolished and replaced by two relatively regular terraces facing each other prior to 1747.

Peters Court doglegging between Hemmings Row and St Martin's Lane has not yet been built, neither have Cecil Court or St Martins Court running between Castle Street and St Martins Lane

No 77 is Castle Yard.

78 is Ellis Court.

79, off the East side of Castle Street is the yard of Red Lion Inne.

137, off Long Acre.

140 is Blackamore Alley.

141 is Angel Court.

142 is Garter Alley.,0.167,0.123,0.074,0


Duke's Court was originally built some time prior to 1684.

At this stage of posting it is difficult to pinpoint the actual date of building of Duke's Court.

From  Catalogue of Books etc Thomas Thorpe 1830.

Available online.


A New View of London: Or, An Ample Account of that City, in ... Edward Hatton · 1708 · ‎London 

This reference suggests that in 1708 Duke's Court had not yet been rebuilt.


From Strype's Survey of London of 1720.

 "Castle street lyeth on the Backside of Leicester Fields and St. Martin's Lane, and runneth down unto the Back Gate of the Mewse; near unto which is Duke's Court, which leadeth into St. Martin's Lane, against the Church; a large well built Court, with a Free-stone Pavement, inhabited by several French Families".


Crop from John Roque's map of London.

Engraved by John Pine 1747.

This crop from the full map downloaded from.


Locating Duke's Court, off St Martins Lane, from Horwood's Map of London. 1799.


1830 Plan prepared for the improvements at Charing Cross.

This excellent hi res plan used with permission from London Picture Archive.

The buildings accessed from the Little Mews south of Duke's Court and between 134 and 137 St Martin's Lane have already been cleared for the development of the National Gallery.


Duke's Court and the Royal Mews.

The North Eastern area of the Royal Mews, south of Duke's Court was known as the Little Mews in the mid 18th century.

From a detailed Plan by Thomas Chawner, 62 Guilford St, dated June 15 1796, in the British library.

The properties backing onto the west side of Martin's Lane between nos 134 and 136 are designated either Crown or King's servants and could only be accessed from the Mews.

Note the St Martin's Lane Watch House (or Round House) at the far Eastern end of the Little Mews.

Accessed from covered Alleyways to the West from Castle Street and St Martin's Lane from the East.

Showing the North Gateway to the Kings Mews from the South end of Castle Street.

St Martin's Parish Workhouse backing on to the houses on the North side.

The old building on the East side of the King's Mews have been demolished and the land on the West side of St Martin's Lane has opened up the view to St Martin in the Fields.


The entrance to Duke's Court underneath 17th century houses (132 and 134 St Martin's Lane) viewed from St Martin's Church Yard.

Image above Cropped From Thomas Malton's view of 1795.


Drawing of the West side of the lower part of St Martin's Lane by George Scharf, dated 1825 with a man entering the entryway Duke's Court.

No. 6 is the Old St Martins Watch or Round House, with a man and child peering through the window


Crop from a drawing by George Scharf 1827, view from the steps of St Martin in the Fields.

With a glimpse of 134 St Martin's Lane on the right.

Showing the rear elevations of the houses in Duke's Court shortly before demolition.

Image from  British Museum.


Some of the Inhabitants of Duke's Court.

Francis Pitsala, Plaster Figure Maker and Decorator.

at the Golden Head, Dukes Court, St Martin's Lane c. 1757.

He doesn't appear in the Biographical Dictionary .. Sculptors pub Yale 2009.

Francis Pitsala.

At The Golden Head, Lisle St, Leicester Fields, London 1749-1751, 

At The Golden Head, Duke’s Court, St Martin's Lane 1751-1765, 

At Wardour St 1766-1769. Figure maker and painter.


Francis Pitsala (d.1769) married Sarah Wall at St Anne's Church, Soho on 28 January 1747. He can be found in Westminster rate books, 1749-69, at the addresses above. He was a member of an Old Bailey jury in 1760.


In 1751, he advertised in a leading Edinburgh newspaper, describing himself as a figure maker willing to pack figures carefully and send them by sea or by land, and explaining that he had removed from the Golden Head in Lisle Street, Leicester Fields, to the Golden Head in Duke’s Court, St Martin’s Lane, opposite the church (Caledonian Mercury 13 June 1751, information from Helen Smailes). He took out insurance in partnership with John Lee, as painters and figure makers, from nearly opposite Chapel St in Wardour St on 14 April 1766 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 168/232825).


Francis Pitsala, figure maker in Duke's Court advertised in 1758 that he had opened a subscription for 'the Busto of his Prussian Majesty, taken from an original Painting' (Public Advertiser 2 March 1758). The bust was 22 ins high and available to subscribers at one guinea in plaster of Paris and 27 shillings in a 'much whiter' composition.

info above from -

Horace Walpole reports - described as an Italian Limner Pitsala died in Wardour St 10 November1769.

For the Pitsala Will of the parish of St James, Westminster dated 24 October 1769  where he leaves his estate to his wife Sarah see -

In May 1770 Sarah Pitsala widow and executrix of Francis Pitsala was paid a balance of the not inconsiderable sum of  £260 for painting done at Shelburne house, Berkley Square under the direction of Messrs Adams for the Earl of Sherburne. Pearl, picked out with dead white (four or five coats).

Trade Card of c. 1740 / 60 of Francis Pitsala in the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale.

Note the similarity with the profile of Alexander Pope with the Richardson etching of Alexander Pope on the Trade Card of Francis Pitsala, Figure Maker of Dukes Court, St Martin's Lane, Opposite the Church.

Etching of a profile of Alexander Pope by Jonathan Richardson c. 1737.

Lewis Walpole Library. Yale.


Horace Walpole.... in Anecdotes... – Francis Pitsala - d. 10 Nov. 1769. Described as Italian Limner.


In 1749 the peripatetic engraver and publisher Matthias Darly (c.1721 -1780) - was briefly in Duke's Court, St Martin's Lane (Worms and Baynton-Williams). Darly worked with Chippendale on his director. More on Darly to come...


William Forster's Music Shop.

c. 1783. Forster's Music Shop was on the North corner of Dukes Court and St Martin's Lane. 133 St Martin's Lane (see Horwoods Map above).

William Forster, (1713 - 1801) "old Forster", Noted Violin Maker. Came to London from Brampton, Cumberland in about 1759. 

His son William (1739 - 1807) was also a noted violin maker.

They published Haydns works with sole publishing rights purchased from Haydn between 1781 - 88.

see also -

He is described in papers at Burghley as Violin and Violincello maker to his Royal Highness The Duke of Cumberland.

Forster worked initially for Beck's Music shop on Tower Hill.

In 1762 he was at 33 St Martin's Lane.

......It appears that Forster Snr was labelling violins made in St Martin's Lane in 1762

For interesting notes on the Forster family properties which were insured with Sun Insurance see

May, 1767. William Forster his apartments at Spinster Rogers in St Martin's Lane, nr New Street. £100.

September 1768. St Martin's Lane, Remov’d to his Dwelling \ House Brick in Dukes Court, St Martins Lane.

May 1773, St Martins Lane,  Remov’d to his Dwelling \ House Brick in Dukes Court St Martins Lane On his household Goods in his now \ dwelling house only Brick situate as aforesaid \ not exceeding Ninety Eight Pounds \Printed Books therein only not exceeding Two pound \Utensils Stock & Goods in trust therein only not \ exceeding Three hundred & fifty Pounds \[Wearing] Apparel therein only not exceeding Fifty Pounds \ ............... £500.

20 July 1776, William Forster of the Corner \ of Dukes Court in St Martins Lane Musical Instrument Maker \ On his household Goods in his now dwelling house only brick \ & timber situate as aforesaid not exceeding Fifty pounds \Printed Books therein only not exceeding Five pounds \Utensils Stock & Goods in trust therein only not exceeding \ Four hundred & Sixty two pounds \

Wearing Apparel therein only not exceeding Sixty pounds \Plate therein only not exceeding Three pounds \Glass & China therein only not exceeding Twenty pounds \……………… £600.

In 1784 his address is given as 348, Strand. near Exeter Change. 

Available on line - The History of the Violin and Other Instruments Played on with the Bow from ...By William Sandys, Simon Andrew Forster. pub 1864.


 James Watt at Kenneth Macullock's House in Duke's Court.

James Watt (1736 - 1819) wrote to Matthew Boulton in Birmingham –  London  7th March 1775.

"I have decamped from the Hotel and taken Lodgings in Duke's Court, St Martin’s lane at a Mr Macullocks - at 14/6 week, two rooms & a Closet".

For Kenneth Macullock (otherwise McCullock), Instrument Maker of Duke's Court see -

Macullock "to remove from his former lodgings to a fine airy house in Duke’s Court, opposite St. Martin’s Church, for which he had engaged, he said, to pay a rent of forty-two pounds per annum, a very considerable sum nearly sixty years ago. Further, he had entered into an advantageous contract with Catherine of Russia, for furnishing all the philosophical instruments of a new college then erecting in Petersburgh – a contract which promised to secure about two years’ profitable employment to himself and seven workmen. In the ten years which intervened between the dates of his two letters, Kenneth M’Culloch had become one of the most skilful and inventive mechanicians of London"

In 1777 he was in partnership with William Fraser.

He had moved to the Minories in the City by 1789.


Andrew Dury (d.1777, fl. circa 1760-1777). at The Indian Queen, Dukes Court.

A prolific British map and print seller and publisher who lived and worked from Duke's Court, West side of St. Martin's Lane in London. He was a very accomplished mapmaker but not perhaps as successful as contemporaries such as Thomas Jefferys or Jefferys' successor William Faden (1711 - 83) who had premises on the corner of St Martin's Lane and Charing Cross.

Amongst many maps Dury's name is associated with Rennell's large Indian maps. Dury was also responsible for Revolutionary War era plans of Boston and Philadelphia, as well as a series of maps related to the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-74.

He produced large scale maps of county maps of Hertfordshire in 1766 (with J. Andrews and W. Faden (snr), and Middlesex (Twenty Five miles around London on 20 sheets in 1777). 

We will meet Thomas Jefferys and the son of William Faden also William(1749 - 1836) again.

He published a pocket atlas of the World circa 1761 - The New General and Universal Atlas.

Pub and printed a small map of London by John Roque in 1769.

There are several engravings pub by Dury in the BM.

Frontispiece -The New General and Universal Atlas.
with maps by Thomas Kitchen and others.


John Francis Estienne, Toyman at the Sign of Star and Pearl, Dukes Court, St Martin's Lane.
Trade Card. c. 1752 - 55.

Bankrupt in 1757 (Gentleman's Mag.)

Clipping ref. Estienne from 11 July 1752, Reads Weekly Journal


Erasmus King's Experimental Room for Natural Philosophy, Duke's Court.

Erasmus King d.1760.

The Experimental Room and Philosophical Museum was on the first floor at Duke's Court - his wife had her chamber and lace warehouse below.

Angerstein started to attend the physical lectures of Erasmus King. King was the most prolific public lecturer in 1750s London, and he held lectures in experimental philosophy in his house at Duke’s Court near the Mews.28 He held both private lectures for “Gentlemen or Ladies” in his “Experimental Room in Duke’s Court” as well as public lectures “where all Persons are admitted” for a fee of 6 pence per lecture. Angerstein’s diary from the early 1750s corresponds remarkably well with King’s catalogue of experiments form the early 40s, which described similar experiments with magnetism and air pumps. us, Angerstein seems to have followed a fairly standardised series of lectures that King had been giving for a long time.29 After a couple of weeks of attending the lectures, Angerstein moved to King’s household at Duke’s Court. For the Swedish mining  ocial, attending public lectures seems  to have been a way to learn whether Mr King’s house was a space where useful knowledge could be gained. After he had been convinced by King’s display, the next step was to lodge with the lecturer in order to acquire knowledge that was not communicated through lectures alone. Angerstein continued to attend the lectures, but also made experiments of his own in King’s house.




For much more on Erasmus King and his contemporary Natural Philosophers see -

BJHS, 1990, 23, 411-434 - Lectures on natural philosophy in London, 1750-1765: S. C. T. Demainbray (1710-1782) and the 'Inattention' of his countrymen



Roger Payne bookbinder, Duke's Court, 1739 - 1797.

During the latter part of his life, Roger Payne was in later life the victim of poverty and disease. He closed his earthly career at his residence in Duke’s Court on Nov. 20, 1787, and was interred in the burial-ground of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, at the expense of his worthy patron, Mr. Thomas Payne.



Patrick Begbie, Engraver fl. 1770 - 80..

8 Duke's Court, St Martin's Lane.

 Engraved for the Adam Brothers amongst others.

Copper engraver, 1773-4 in Edinburgh, from 1776 onwards in London.


James Ferguson FRS (1710 - 76) at Duke's Court.

see - 'The Light of His Own Mind': The Story of James Ferguson, Astronomer by Patricia Rothman

Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 33-45.

Went from Scotland to London in May 1743. In 1756 he resided in the Strand.

1757, he sold his globe-making business to the scientific instrument-maker, Benjamin Martin.


Smith Engraver at 17 and later at 13 Dukes Court - 1790's.

Image from the British Museum.


John Manson, Book Seller, at 5 Dukes Court. 1788 - 91.

Formerly King St. Westminster 1786.

2 Maiden Lane.

The Mall in 1799.

Later 10, Gerard St, Soho.

John Manson d. 1812 was in Maiden Lane in 1762 where he issued a catalogue

The Manson Catalogue for 1791 see - Wellcome Library -


12 Feb 1816. 16 Dukes Court - Richard Wood, Shoemaker. Sun Fire Office.

2 Feb 1827.   16 Dukes Court - Richard Wood, Shoemaker.

24 June 1799. 5 Dukes Court Solomon Sanders, Salesman. Sun Fire Office.


The Dukes Court Front of St Martins Workhouse, 1871.

Drawing of the back side of the St Martins Lane Workhouse, JP Emslie 1886. from what was once Dukes Court.

Ordinance Survey Map of 1871.

Thomas Ewart - East side of St Martin's Lane.

(Post under construction).

More on the inhabitants of St Martin's Lane in the time of Roubiliac.

Thomas Ewart at the sign of The Beehive.

fl 1745 - 1781.

Thomas Ewart, was a publisher and seller of engravings, his premises faced Old Slaughters' Coffee House, were on the East side at the top of St Martin's Lane, near Long Acre, London (1746).

The following addresses for Thomas Ewart probably all refer to the same premises, Hartshorn Lane was renamed Northumberland Street in 1760:

At the Bee-hive near St. Martin's Lane in the Strand (1757).

At the Bee-hive, opposite Hartshorn Lane in the Strand (1759).

At the Bee-Hive opposite Northumberland-Street, Strand (1762-66).

The corner of Hudsons Court near St Martin's Lane, Strand, London (print sold in 1781).

Image from the British Museum.

Dated twice - 1746  in the central cartouche but appears to have been reprinted in 1757.