In Search of Daniel

William Gunning in his Reminiscences of Cambridge, published in 1854, recalls a bookseller by the name of Maps:


When he first began business, he was a seller of of maps and pictures, which he exhibited in the streets on a small moveable stall: but when I came to college [c. 1784] he was living in an old-fashioned, but large and commodious house belonging to King’s College, adding to what was the the Provost’s Lodge. He had a very large stock of books required at college lectures, both classical and mathematical; and I do not believe I expended, during my undergraduateship, twenty shillings in the purchase of books for the lecture room. His terms of subscription were five shillings and and threepence per quarter, but were afterwards increased to seven shillings and sixpence. When his house was pulled down to make way for the Screen which connects the Chapel of King’s with the New Building, he built and removed to the house now occupied by Macmillan.


This was none other than Daniel Macmillan, founder of Macmillan Publishers and grandfather of the future prime minister Harold Macmillan. The house in question was 29 Regent Street where Macmillan is listed with his family, Frances, daughter of local chemist Charles Orridge and his servant Elizabeth Crissall. Daniel had been born in 1813 on the Isle of Arran and founded his publishing business after he moved to London with his brother Alexander. He died in 1857 and is buried in Mill Road Cemetery.


However, if you thought that the location of 29 Regent Street today was worthy of a Blue Plaque, somewhere in the middle of Pizza Hut, you would be wrong. The 1851 census makes it clear that 29 Regent Street was on the west side of the road. Starting with Llandaff House, the enumeration of the houses proceeds southwards from no. 4 consecutively as far as no. 31. The modern enumeration, which was introduced after 1901, also starts with 4 but continues with even numbers as far as 116.


Llandaff House, the site of modern Mandela House, typifies the confusion. Varying between nos. 2, 3, 4 and 6 Regent Street, it was once even 45 St Andrew’s Street. Llandaff Chambers was created in 1903 and the rest of the house demolished in the 1930s. The original house was a pub by the name of Bishop Blaize. In 1784, the Bishop of Llandaff, professor of divinity, acquired the pub and turned the whole into his private residence. In 1817 Llandaff House became a school run by Newton Bosworth on behalf of a Cambridge Benevolent Society. The management of the school was taken over by William Johnson and remained in the Johnson family until 1903 when it was sold to Herbert Robinson, cycle shop owner and father of David, the founder of Robinson College.


So what of the the rest of Regent Street (west side) in 1851? Well, it seems possible to match some modern properties to the old numbering going south from Llandaff/Mandela House as far as modern 62-64 (old 23-24). This happens to be today Haart Estate Agents. In 1851, no. 24 was the site of the home of William Edwards, a college butler. By 1911 no. 62-64 was F W Whiting, draper and hosier. On the way one would have passed the house (old no. 5 Regent Street) of Francis P Fenner, tobacconist and the founder of Fenner’s cricket ground. 


South of Downing College porter’s lodge there were few properties in 1851. It seems possible that the modern nos. 86 - 92 can be matched with locations of older properties by following the ownership in the censuses:


2019 no. 86. Kung Woo restaurant = 1851 no. 28  James Hammond coach maker 

2019 no. 88. CLC Christian Bookshop = 1851 no. 29 Daniel Macmillan bookseller

2019 no. 90. Cocktail Bar = 1851 no. 30 Anne Freeman lodging house keeper

2019 no. 92. Vedanta Indian Restaurant = 1851 no.31 Susan Brook postmistress and confectioner


South of this point the relation of the old numbers to modern properties becomes even trickier. Before reaching Hyde Park Corner, the old name of the junction between Regent Street and Lensfield Avenue, there is a pub called the Railway King, possibly the same as the modern Oak.



Further information, links and details of sources can be found on the Museum of Cambridge interactive map -