UCL Department of Economics


Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832)

Bentham introduced the notion of ‘utility’ and developed the utilitarian framework still underpinning much applied policy evaluation, besides writing occasionally on explicitly economic issues. Living most of his life in London, his ideas influenced the founders of UCL and, according to the terms of his will, his dressed skeleton can still be seen in a glass cabinet in the college’s cloisters.

He was born in Houndsditch in the City of London, near to the corner of Creechurch Lane and Duke’s Place. His adult life was lived in Westminster in a house at Queen Square Place, the site of which is now occupied by the Home Office at 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, where a recently unveiled green plaque commemorates his memory. Bentham’s ‘auto-icon’ – his preserved and dressed skeleton – can be seen in a glass cabinet in the South Cloisters of UCL. The college’s main library has a mural representing Bentham’s role in the foundation of the college. The Bentham Project, located in the Department of Laws at UCL, maintains an extensive archive of Bentham-related material.