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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

William Tooke (1777–1863)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

A solicitor with his partner Charles Parker at 39 Bedford Row, he was a founding member of the University of London (later University College London) in 1825 and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) in 1826

From the early 1830s he lived at 12 Russell Square

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and acted as Treasurer to several organisations, including the SDUK

In 1834 he was elected a Governor of the Foundling Hospital

According to Henry Morley, Tooke “acted gratuitously as solicitor” to the University until 1834 (‘A Short History of the College’, University College Gazette, vol. I, 22 October 1886, UCL Special Collections)

He also offered his services free to the Association of British Jews and its leader Isaac Lyon Goldsmid when the latter was agitating for Jewish disabilities to be removed (William Tooke to Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, 2 February 1833, MS Mocatta 22, UCL Special Collections)

Tooke worked very hard on behalf of the University, especially in the matter of negotiating with the government over the granting of its charter in 1833, both when the first attempt failed, and again in 1835–1836, when the charter was granted on condition that the University change its name to University College London (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

As a partner in Tooke & Parker, he chased up non-payment of fees from his offices in Bedford Row; see, for example, his letter to a Mr Mills, 10 July 1834, demanding £5 and threatening legal action if the debt was not paid within a week (College Correspondence no. 3224, UCL Special Collections)

In 1841 Tooke’s long relationship with the University ended acrimoniously, when he was accused by the Council of misusing his now severed connection with the SDUK to try to influence voters in Finsbury, where he was standing in the conservative interest

A battle ensued in the press, with Tooke turning against Brougham and his erstwhile colleagues, alluding to their ingratitude and accusing a “cabal” of forcing him off the Council of University College London at a meeting of 13 March 1841 (Morning Chronicle, 24 February 1841; Examiner, 4 April 1841; The Times, 7 April 1841)

In 1861, shortly before his death, Tooke was Secretary of the National Guardian Institution

For more general biographical information about William Tooke, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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