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Sir John Dean Paul Corrupt Banker


Extract from Old and New London Walter Thornbury 1878
The house No. 217, Strand, now a branch of the London and Westminster Joint-Stock Bank, but which till lately was occupied as a bank by Messrs. Strahan (originally Snow), Paul, and Bates, had a history approaching in venerable antiquity to that of its neighbour, the bank of Messrs. Child. The name of the firm was originally Snow and Walton, who carried on business here as pawnbrokers during the Commonwealth, their house bearing the sign of the "Golden Anchor." Their ledgers went back as far as the year 1672. There was a book in the possession of the late members of the firm, showing that they were established as bankers in the reign of Charles II., when their accounts were kept in decimals. The firm came to a disgraceful and disastrous end in 1855, the leading partners of it being tried criminally and convicted of misappropriating the moneys of their customers, for which they were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, a climax which offers a striking contrast to the reputation enjoyed by the original owner and founder of the house, a wealthy goldsmith named Snow, whose memory is thus immortalised by Gay:—
"Disdain not, Snow, my humble verse to hear;
Stick thy black pen awhile behind thy ear.
O thou whose penetrative wisdom found
The South Sea rocks and shelves when thousands drown'd,
When Credit sank and Commerce gasping lay,
Thou stood'st, nor sent one bill unpaid away;
When not a guinea clinked on Martin's boards,
And Atwel's self was drained of all his hoards,
Thou stood'st—an Indian king in size and hue—
Thy unexhausted store was our Peru."

The house No. 217, Strand, now a branch of the London and Westminster Joint-Stock Bank, but which till lately was occupied as a bank by Messrs. Strahan (originally Snow), Paul, and Bates, had a history approaching in venerable antiquity to that of its neighbour, the bank of Messrs. Child. The name of the firm was originally Snow and Walton, who carried on business here as pawnbrokers during the Commonwealth, their house bearing the sign of the "Golden Anchor." Their ledgers went back as far as the year 1672. There was a book in the possession of the late members of the firm, showing that they were established as bankers in the reign of Charles II., when their accounts were kept in decimals. The firm came to a disgraceful and disastrous end in 1855, the leading partners of it being tried criminally and convicted of misappropriating the moneys of their customers, for which they were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, a climax which offers a striking contrast to the reputation enjoyed by the original owner and founder of the house, a wealthy goldsmith named Snow, whose memory is thus immortalised by Gay:—
"Disdain not, Snow, my humble verse to hear;
Stick thy black pen awhile behind thy ear.
O thou whose penetrative wisdom found
The South Sea rocks and shelves when thousands drown'd,
When Credit sank and Commerce gasping lay,
Thou stood'st, nor sent one bill unpaid away;
When not a guinea clinked on Martin's boards,
And Atwel's self was drained of all his hoards,
Thou stood'st—an Indian king in size and hue—
Thy unexhausted store was our Peru."


Kensal Green Cemetery

One of the members of the provisional committee was Sir John Dean Paul, partner in the firm of Strahan, Paul, Paul and Bates, bankers of the Strand, who was soon to come into collision with Carden. (ref. 31) It was he who found and conditionally purchased fifty-four acres of land at Kensal Green for the 'moderate' price of £9,500 (i.e.£174 per acre), and at the proprietors' meeting held in July 1831 this initiative was confirmed. It was also decided to apply to Parliament for an Act of incorporation for the company. (ref. 32)
This was an unusually propitious moment to make such an application, for in October 1831 England began to experience its first cholera epidemic, and many people thought that cholera was propagated by the evil miasmas which arose from the decaying matter present, among other places, in overcrowded graveyards. In July 1832 the Bill 'for establishing a General Cemetery for the Interment of the Dead in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis' received the royal assent. It incorporated the General Cemetery Company, authorized it to raise up to £45,000 in shares of £25, buy up to eighty acres of land and build a cemetery and a Church of England chapel. To obviate the opposition of the metropolitan clergy, many of whom depended in substantial measure for their incomes upon the revenues from burial fees, the Act also provided that for each burial in the cemetery a fee ranging from 1s. 6d. to 5s. (depending on the type of grave) should be paid to the incumbent of the parish in which each body originated. (ref. 33)
By this time the infant company was already deeply involved in the architectural squabbles which eventually culminated in the triumph of Sir John Dean Paul and the dismissal of G. F. Carden. Their quarrel seems to have centred round the rival merits of the Grecian style, advocated by Paul, and the Gothic, championed by Carden; but no doubt there was also a conflict of personalities, as well as an embarras de richesse in the sheer number of architects anxious to design the cemetery.
To start with, at least three of the shareholders were architects—A. C. Pugin and Thomas Willson, whose interest in this field has already been mentioned, and John William Griffith, surveyor to the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, and to the London estates of St. John's College, Cambridge, (ref. 25) who was probably supported by Paul and who was ultimately to be the author of the executed designs for the two chapels and the principal entrance gateway. At the time of its formation in February 1830 the provisional committee had nevertheless invited Benjamin Wyatt to act as architect, but he had declined, and recommended Charles Fowler instead. This proposal was not taken up, however, and in June both Francis Goodwin and Thomas Willson were drawing the committee's attention to their respective designs. It was at this time that the committee accepted Carden's view that the cemetery should follow the example of that of Père-Lachaise, and that the public should be 'at liberty to erect what description of monuments they please'. (ref. 34)
Thereafter the committee was for some months engaged in finding and provisionally purchasing a site. The land ultimately acquired was, indeed, extremely suitable. It enjoyed a high, welldrained situation, 'surrounded by beautiful scenery', and with good access to London both by road along the Harrow Road and by water along the Grand Junction Canal, which extended across the site. (ref. 32) (fn. e)
The next problem before the committee was the layout of its new property. In September 1831 it was resolved to consult John Nash, and shortly afterwards Sir John Dean Paul presented a sketch 'drawn under the eye of Mr Nash' by Mr. Liddell, who had worked in the office of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests under Nash. J. W. Griffith was, however, instructed to prepare plans and sections of the ground, and shortly afterwards Liddell withdrew. In October Griffith produced working drawings for a boundary wall, and building tenders were invited. Later in the year he, Paul and Pugin were all concerning themselves in the planting of trees, and it might therefore be conjectured that Griffith had become responsible for the general layout. But in August 1832 (? John) Hanson, architect, was reporting to the directors about the execution of Liddell's plan, which was then adopted. The precise authorship of the design for the layout therefore remains in doubt. (ref. 35)
In the meantime the committee had decided that for the design of the buildings a competition should be held, and in November 1831 a premium of one hundred guineas was offered for the best plans for a chapel with ample vaults and for an entrance gateway with lodges. The total cost was not to exceed £10,000 for the chapel and £3,000 for the gateway. (ref. 36)
Griffith did not enter the competition, for he was appointed one of the judges, but he was nevertheless constantly strengthening his position with the company. In January 1832 he was negotiating on its behalf with Robert Stephenson, engineer of the London and Birmingham Railway, over that company's intention to build a tunnel under the northern extremity of the site of the cemetery; and in March he was instructed to proceed with the erection of the brick wall to enclose the cemetery. William Chadwick of Southwark was the builder of this wall, and Sir John Soane, for whom he had previously worked, was asked to supply a testimonial as to his capability. (ref. 37)
There were forty-six entrants for the competition, and in March


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