Hugh Myddelton

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Sir Hugh Myddelton, 1st Bart.
SirHughMyddelton.jpg
Sir Hugh Myddelton (1560-10 Dec 1631)
Born1560
Died10 December 1631(1631-12-10) (aged 71)
NationalityWelsh
Other namesHugh Middleton
Occupationentrepreneur
Known forNew River

Sir Hugh Myddelton (or Middleton), 1st Baronet (1560 – 10 December 1631) was a Welsh clothmaker, entrepreneur, mine-owner, goldsmith, banker and self-taught engineer. The spelling of his name is inconsistently reproduced, but Myddelton appears to be the earliest, and most consistently used in place names associated with him.

The sixth son of Richard Myddelton, governor of Denbigh Castle in Wales and MP for Denbigh Boroughs and Jane Dryhurst, daughter of Hugh Dryhurst and Lucy Grimsditch. He travelled to seek his fortune in London and after being apprenticed to a goldsmith became so successful in that trade that he was appointed Royal Jeweller by King James I. In the meantime, he became an alderman and then recorder of Denbigh, and in 1603 succeeded his father as MP for Denbigh Boroughs, which he remained until 1628. He also became a very wealthy merchant and clothmaker.

New River[edit]

The New Gauge House (1856) which regulates the abstraction of water from the River Lea into the start of the New River in the foreground.[1]

Myddelton is, however, best remembered as the driving force behind the construction of the New River, an ambitious engineering project to bring clean water from the River Lea, near Ware, in Hertfordshire to New River Head, London. After the initial project encountered financial difficulties, Myddelton helped fund the project through to completion, obtaining the assistance of King James I. The New River was constructed between 1608 and 1613 (being officially opened on 29 September that year), and was originally some 38 miles (60 km) long. It was not initially a financial success, and cost Myddelton substantial sums, although in 1612 he was successful in securing monetary assistance from King James I.

Mining activities[edit]

In 1617, Myddelton obtained large profits from lead and silver mines at Bronfloydd, Cwmerfyn and Cwmsymlog in Cardiganshire, Wales. Working those mines involved building aqueducts to serve the stamp mills needed to crush the ore. Following engineering works at Brading on the Isle of Wight, he was created a baronet in 1622.

Marriage and family[edit]

He married Elizabeth Olmstead, daughter of John Olmstead, and had a family of ten sons and six daughters. He died in December 1631, and was buried in the church of St. Matthew Friday Street, London.

One of Sir Hugh's brothers was Sir Thomas Myddelton (c. 1550–1631), Lord Mayor of London, and another was William Middelton (c. 1556–1621), poet and seaman, who died at Antwerp on 27 March 1621.

Memorials[edit]

Statue of Sir Hugh Myddelton by John Thomas, on Islington Green previously known as Paradise Row near the terminus of the New River. Unveiled 1862 by William Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer and soon to become Prime Minister.
Statue of Sir Hugh Myddelton on the Royal Exchange, London

There is a statue of Myddelton on Islington Green. Myddleton is also depicted in a statue situated in a niche of the northeastern step-building of the Holborn Viaduct. On an island in the New River at Great Amwell a stone memorial is dedicated to Myddelton. A blue plaque marks the site of his former residence at the end of Cunard Crescent in Enfield.

In Clerkenwell, not far from the original southern end of the New River, Myddelton Square takes its name from him, as do Myddelton Passage and Myddleton Street. Institutions nearby (some closed) that are named after him include Hugh Myddelton Primary School in Myddelton Street; the Myddelton Wing of the LSE Rosebery Hall of Residence, also on Myddelton Street; Hugh Myddelton Secondary school (which closed in the mid 1960s in Sans Walk, Islington); and Myddelton House on Pentonville Road, central office of Citizens Advice.

Bounded by the former course along the valley of Turkey Brook, Myddelton House at Bulls Cross, Enfield (now the headquarters of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority) was also named in his honour; it was built by Henry Carrington Bowles (formerly a print and map maker of St Paul's Churchyard) whose wife, Anne Garnault, was a member of a Huguenot family with a controlling interest in the New River Company. There is also a Myddleton Arms on New North Road in Canonbury, curiously with that spelling.

Myddelton Avenue in Finsbury Park, parallel to Brownswood Road and the site of one of the New River Reservoirs, also is named for him. At the northern end of the New River, Myddleton Road in Ware is situated close to the source of the river. Myddelton Road in Bowes Park crosses the New River at a point where it goes underground between there and the Hornsey water treatment works, where there is another Myddelton Road off Hornsey High Street. [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ newriver.pdf at shelford.org
  2. ^ Great Amwell memorial urn Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 October 2011

Sources[edit]

  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Myddelton, Sir Hugh" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Goodwin, Gordon (1894). "Myddelton, Hugh" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 39. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  • Jenner, Mark S. R. "Myddelton , Sir Hugh, baronet (1556x60?–1631)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19683.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

External links[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Panton
Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs
1604–1629
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
New creation
Middleton Baronet of Ruthyn Succeeded by
William Middleton