James Hopgood: more than Thomas Cubitt’s Solicitor

James Hopgood (1811 -1897)

James Hopgood photo
Photograph of James Hopgood. By kind permission of the Clapham Society.

[This page is an early draft and is in the process of being updated]

James Hopgood was  born on the 20th December 1811. His father Thomas Burn Hopgood is variously recorded as a jeweller or goldsmith in Bishopsgate Street.¹

Hopgood appears to have been articled in clerkship (as a solicitor or attorney) to Edward Thompson [CP 5/214/34].

James Hopgood then practiced as a solicitor [is this actually true as one source says Hopgood articled to Thomas Cubitt but that cannot be right as he would have had to be articled to a solicitor] and was living in Clapham, in The Grove. He married Elizabeth Mary Herbert on 2 September 1841 , the daughter of William Herbert, a wealthy building contractor of Cavendish House, Clapham. They moved soon afterwards to a larger house in Cavendish Terrace, South Side and then after only a few years to the mansion near the top of Balham Hill, later known as Kingston House.

He was one of Cubitts three most trusted associates. The others being Andrew Cuthell and Thomas Waller heading up the building clerks and the confidential clerks offices respectively. This organisation arrangement emerged from 1833 with Hopgood having worked as an articled clerk for Cubitt from 1831 according to Hobhouse pg 277 based on a personal communication from Oliver Hopgood, a descendant, re family tradition.

In the 1843 Post Office directory James Hopgood is listed at 202 Bishopsgate and at 86 Eaton Place, Belgrave Square [at the time Thomas Cubitt’s offices].

In 1847 James Hopgood was running his ‘practice’ from Thomas Cubitts Lyall Street offices. In reality at this point Hopgood was running Thomas Cubitt’s internal legal department.


The entries from the 1847 Kelly’s Post Office directory for Lyall Street.

By the time of the 1860 London Royal Blue Book Directory, the two Hopgood brothers and their father are neatly listed together. With their office address solely at 14 King Willian Street, Strand.

1860 London Royal Blue Book Directory

Mrs. Dumas who lived in the Crescent wrote on July 14, 1847 “Charles and I were at a very grand ball at the Hopgood’s last Wednesday, a House warming, 150 persons. All Clapham was and many from elsewhere. The entertainment was on a very grand scale”. Mr. Herbert it seems had built them a magnificent house next to his own [Hermione Hobhouse, Thomas Cubitt: Master Builder, London 1971, pg 253 references a letter provided by a local Clapham historian Eric Smith as the source of the information].

Hopgood mostly worked out of Thomas Cubitt’s offices heading up the legal department that was sufficiently strong that it was drafting acts of parliament. In 1838 [is this correct – none of the directories list this?] he opened an office at 202 Bishopsgate where is father had run his jewellers business and his brother Metcalf carried it on. Later he moved his personal office to King William Street where he practised with his younger brother John [TNA C 16/572/H56].

James Hopgood was a Unitarian and attended The Chapel on Brixton Hill. He was also a member of the Barber-Surgeons Company.

John Hopgood, his brother, lived in Clapham building Erin House from about 1862 [now Signal House] on the southern side of Atkins Road.

The Royal Free

For twenty two years James Hopgood was the Chairman of the Governing Body of the Royal Free Hospital, then in the Grays Inn Road. It has been speculated that this connection evolved because of the physical proximity to Cubitt’s yard there: which was next door.

In 1874 the London School of Medicine for Women had been opened but it was still impossible for women to obtain access as students to any hospitals.

After a chance meeting with the treasurer, Rt. Hon. James Stansfeld,  of the London School of Medicine for Women whilst on holiday in Whitby in 1876, he persuaded the medical officers of the Royal Free to accept students from the School into the wards for clinical teaching thereby opening the way for them to qualify for a place on the Medical Register from 1877.

In view of his support of the female doctors becoming qualified he would probably have been delighted that his old house eventually became part of the site purchased for the building of the South London Hospital for Women. Its founder, Miss Chadwick, was a surgeon who had qualified in 1893 from the London School of Medicine for – Women and the Royal Free Hospital.

Hopgood drafted Cubitt’s [England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 13841858 for Thomas Cubitt, PROB 11: Will Registers 1855-1859 Piece 2225: Vol. 1, Quire Numbers 1-50 (1856) pages 101 – 124] was, at the time, the longest will in England & Wales.

He was adviser to the Kemp Town Committee succeeding George Faithful who was Thomas Read Kemp’s nominee [reference required].

Hopgood died at his Clapham home 2 February 1897.

His house was demolished in 1928.


James Hopgood’s loans to Thomas Cubitt

A survey of Cubitt’s Belgravia lease book shows the following entries regarding James Hopgood. Of course it isn’t readily knowable whom of his clients Hopgood may have introduced to Cubitt – Hobhouse raises this in her book [page reference needed].

3rd July 1836 – mortgaged 6 Eaton Place – for the sum of £2,300  – Belgravia/Cadogan lease book page 87.

Thomas Cubitt’s lease book covering Belgravia. By kind permission of the London Metropolitan Archives LMA/4608/01/02/002 pg. 87.


4th June 1844 – mortgage 90 Eaton Place for the sum of £3,700 – Cubitt’s Belgravia lease book, page 175.

Thomas Cubitt’s lease book covering Belgravia. By kind permission of the London Metropolitan Archives LMA/4608/01/02/002 pg. 175.

James Hopgood appears to have introduced his father, Thomas Burn Hopgood, to Cubitt’s ‘engagements’ and on 26th August 1839 – mortgaged 54 Eaton Place – £3,700 paid to Thomas Cubitt @ 5% – Cubitt’s Belgravia lease book, page 137.

Thomas Cubitt’s lease book covering Belgravia. By kind permission of the London Metropolitan Archives LMA/4608/01/02/002 pg. 137.

17th February 1857 – 101 Eaton Place – In Trust & Settlement, Cubitt’s Belgravia lease book. However, this appears to be more about the administration of Cubitt’s estate in a professional capacity than any direct financial relationship.

Summonsed: both James and John Hopgood

James and John Hopgood were in practice together for some years. And both of the Hopgood brothers were summonsed, ” In the matter of James Hopgood and John Hopgood, both of 14 King William Street, Strand, Middlesex, solicitors, Cause number: 1869 H56 [TNA C 16/572/H56]

Clapham Atheneum

It appears that Hopgood was a member of the Clapham Atheneum and he apparently lectured there.

Some of its minute books [covering 1841-1868 Lambeth Archives IV/130] survive and would probably bear some analysis and it is possible that Hopgood persuaded Thomas Cubitt addressed the Clapham Atheneum.


After the 1939 Fire at Cubitt’s Thames Bank works

Hopgood, seems to have got very involved in dealing with the aftermath of the fire at Cubitt’s Thames Bank Works on 25th April 1839. A series of letter survives in Home Office files. Sadly, they were microfilmed and indexed. Then someone appears to have decided to reorder the folios into strict date order without updating the catalogue. So even though the whole series of documents is digitised and is online it is, to put it politely, quite hard to find the images of the letter. Do follow the links and have a look and if you can find them do let us know!HO 64/9/37 – Folios 72-73

“Letter from James Hopgood, Solicitor to the builders Cubitt of Eaton Place [London], of 202 Bishopsgate Street [London]. A suspected incendiary fire took place on 25 April at Mr Cubitt’s timber yard at Thames Bank Pimlico [London]. Through the efforts of the police and fire brigade only property to the value of £1500 was destroyed. Enquiries have been by the police and others but no information regarding the offenders has been found. Hopgood asks the government to offer a reward for the discovery of the offenders and a pardon to any accomplice giving information.”

HO 64/9/38 – Folios 74-75

“Letter from James Hopgood, [Solicitor to Cubitt the builders] of 202 Bishopsgate Street [London]. Refers to his letter dated 6 May and acknowledges a reply from the Home Office. He gives details of the fire at Mr Cubitt’s timber yard at Thames Bank, and states why he thinks it was an incendiary fire; evidence was found by a constable at the scene. There are details of working practices of the workmen and the foremen at the yard. Hopwood reiterates his previous request for a reward from the government, if only to deter similar events.”

HO 64/9/39 Folios 76-77

“Letter from James Hopgood [Solicitor to Cubitt the builders] of 202 Bishopsgate Street [London], acknowledging a letter from the Home Office in which it would seem that an offer of a reward has been made in relation to the fire at Thames Bank [London, at Mr Cubitt’s timber yard]. Hopwood considers that a large reward should be made, possibly 300 guineas and that Mr Cubitt will be happy to pay one moiety [a half]. However Mr Cubitt will pay a moiety of whatever sum the government considers proper. Hopgood advises that he will visit the Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, M Philipps, on Monday for advice on the mode of the advertisement, to comprise a reward and possibly a pardon, in the Gazette.”

HO 64/9/40 – Folio 78

“Letter from James Hopgood [Solicitor to Mr Cubitt, builder] of 202 Bishopsgate Street [London]. Following a visit that Hopgood made to the Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, S M Phillipps, regarding the fire at Thames Bank [London, Mr Cubitt’s timber yard], he states that Mr Cubitt will match the governments offer of £100 reward making a total reward of £200 payable on conviction.”

HO 64/9/52 – Folios 104-105

“Letter from James Hopgood, [solicitor to Mr Cubitt, builder, see folios 72-3] of 202 Bishopsgate Street [London], concerning the fire at Mr Cubitt’s premises [timber yard] at Thames Bank [London]. Despite advertising a reward for information of £200 there has been none forthcoming. Mr Cubitt now proposes to increase his share of the reward by £50 and Hopgood asks the government if they will increase their offer as well, making the reward £300. Mr Cubitt feels that the additional amount will show that the affair is not forgotten and will also act as a deterrent to others.”


The Clapham Magazine

Hopgood appears to have been involved in, the short lived publication, The Clapham Magazine.

The British Library lists 8 volumes published between 1850-1 in its collections.

[Ongoing work

“4 letters from 1 Raymond’s Buildings, Grays Inn, concerning establishment of a journal to be distributed in Clapham…[The Clapham Magazine, 3 issues November 1850-January 1851]-

Papers of James Thomas Knowles. Architect and Editor, 1850-1908, with additional papers, 1909-

1920.Letters from Knowles to Henry Gay Hewlett. The editors were Knowles, Hewlett and John Hopgood (d.1902 [this must be his brother John?], later Knowles’s solicitor. The letters detail costs of publication, printing and distribution of prospectuses etc.

City of Westminster Archives Centre 23 July 1850 – 16 August 1850 716/5-8]

Hopgood had an operating theatre named after him and there is a photograph of it with a surgical team present in 1895.


The Hopgood operating theatre at the Royal Free Hospital, 1895 – Photo ID: RFH0013. Reproduced under Wiki Commons 4.0.


Place of burial

James Hopgood is buried in West Norwood Cemetery (grave 23,369, square lIS).

Death of John Hopgood

John Hopgood, Jame’s brother died on 24th January 1902 after a long illness.

Death notice for John Hopgood, Clapham Observer, 24th January 1902.


Letter book(s)

Last letter book ca 1856 Pg 344

[work in progress examining the other 5 available letter books].

¹Born 1785 in Whitechapel.
Christening record for St Mary, Whitechapel dated 30th March 1785. Thomas Burn Hopgood is listed as a jeweller at 202 Bishopgate St in the 1811 record of his daughter Jane’s baptism. The 1841 census shows him on Little Ealing. 1851 UK Census for 30 Finchley Road, Hampstead as a retired goldsmith. Died 1860.
England & Wales Deaths Index for Hampstead registry dated 3rd quarter 1860.
Father of Metcalf Hopgood (Grimwade p.551) who was a silversmith who is highly collectable.

This pages has been prepared with assistance from Micheal Tuffrey of The Clapham Society