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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

Zachary Macaulay (1768–1838)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

The father of the famous historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, he was one of the many Scots involved in the founding of the University of London (later University College London) in 1826, and a member of its first Council

An evangelical Christian and staunch campaigner against the slave trade alongside William Wilberforce, he supported educational enterprises such as the Infant School Society set up in 1824 by, among others, George Birkbeck, Henry Brougham, and the Marquis of Lansdowne (The Times, 8 June 1824), all of them fellow members of the Council of the new University in 1828

Macaulay was among a group of proprietors and councillors of the university who were anxious to avoid the ‘godless college’ reputation it had gained among the orthodox

When Jeremy Bentham suggested his friend Dr Thomas Southwood Smith for the chair of moral philosophy, Macaulay objected on the grounds of Smith’s heterodoxy: Smith had been a Unitarian minister but, having taken a medical degree at Edinburgh in 1816, he now concentrated on his medical practice and campaigning for medical reform

The chair remained empty for the time being, since another influential Council member, George Grote, objected for his part to the post going to a Church of England clergyman (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

Macaulay had been wealthy due to his business concerns in Africa, but in 1823 he handed over control of the business to his nephew, who brought it to the brink of bankruptcy

By 1825 Macaulay had moved from Cadogan Place, Chelsea, to a smaller house in Great Ormond Street

In 1833 he was in even cheaper accommodation in Bernard Street, writing on 6 January from number 44 to Thomas Coates, the Secretary of the University, to inform him that ill health required him to resign from Council (College Correspondence no. 3108, UCL Special Collections)

He moved to Paris in 1834 to save money, and died in lodgings in London in 1838 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

For more general biographical information about Zachary Macaulay, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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