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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

Joseph Hume (1777–1855)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

He was a founder and member of the first Council of the University of London (later University College London)

A Scot who had been to school in Montrose with his friend and fellow founder James Mill, Hume had taken a medical degree at the University of Aberdeen in 1799 and had served the East India Company in Bengal, making his fortune in India

Hume sat in Parliament throughout the 1820s as a radical MP for Aberdeen, voting for reform, and became known for his critical questioning of government expenditure

“Our Joe is raised again to the highest pinnacle of fame for his accuracy and arithmetic”, wrote Thomas Creevey after Hume had trounced the Tory Secretary to the Admiralty, John Wilson Croker, in a debate about navy expenses in 1822 (The Creevey Papers, ed. Herbert Maxwell, 1903)

With his knowledge of Hindustani and Persian, he was able to advise the University of London on its filling of the Chairs of Hindustani and Oriental Languages and Literatures in 1828

In January 1830 he told his fellow member of Council at the University James Loch that it was vital to offer financial support to Dr Frederick Rosen, the brilliant young German Professor of Oriental Languages, who could not earn enough to live on from student fees (the unfortunate method of paying professorial salaries chosen by the University’s Council):

“Of the importance of the Oriental languages…to all young men who go to India, the [East India] Company are perfectly sensible… the Council of the London University have brought over from Prussia, Dr Rosen, the most celebrated man on the Continent, or in England, for the joint knowledge of Sanscrit [sic], Arabic & Persian, to what he has added, Hindustani”, and “at present the numbers of students for these languages are not sufficient to support Dr Rosen” (Joseph Hume to James Loch, 17 January 1830, Loch Papers MS Add. 131, UCL Special Collections)

On Hume’s death in 1855, his large and valuable collection of political tracts was bequeathed to University College London (Negley Harte and John North, The World of UCL 1828–1990, 1991) Find out more about the Hume tracts in UCL Special Collections (opens in new window)

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

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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