Place Correspondence

Scope and Content

Correspondence, 1819-1825, between Francis Place and his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and William Adams, concerning their travels in South America (including Buenos Aires and Chile).

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Place was born on 3 November 1771 and was educated at various schools in London. He wanted to learn a trade, so became a leather-breeches maker's apprentice. However, during the London leather-breeches makers' strike of 1793 he lost his job and so spent his time studying. He then became secretary to his trade club and also to several other trade clubs. In 1794 he joined the London Corresponding Society. In 1799 he opened his own tailor's shop in Charing Cross, which became very successful. In 1807 he took an active part in the general election, and from then on became more well known to the political thinkers and the politicians of the day. Place became friends with James Mill, Robert Owen and Jeremy Bentham. In 1817 he gave over his business to his eldest son, and went to stay with Bentham and Mill at Ford Abbey, where he studied. In about 1812 Joseph Hume was introduced to Place and afterwards Place collected many of the materials on which Hume founded his parliamentary activity. The library behind the shop in Charing Cross was a regular resort of the reformers in and out of parliament. An informal publishing business was also carried on there. Place was a practical politician, untiring in providing members of parliament and newspaper editors with materials, in drafting petitions, collecting subscriptions, organising events and managing parliamentary committees. He triumphed in various political campaigns. After the introduction of the Reform Bill in 1831, Place's political influence declined. After 1835 he withdrew almost entirely from politics. His only published book 'The principles of population' (1822) contains his best writing. He also wrote newspaper articles and tracts. Place was married twice and had fifteen children by his first wife, five of whom died in infancy. He died on 1 January 1854.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Given by Mr Brian Adams, a relation of the correspondents, via Professor F Rosen at the Bentham Project, in 1995.

Other Finding Aids

A draft handlist is available. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds 36 letters of Francis Place to Henry Brougham, Lord Brougham, 1831-1852 (Ref: BROUGHAM); eight letters to Edwin Chadwick, 1829-1841 (Ref: CHADWICK); seven letters to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 1833-1840 (Ref: SDUK); three letters to Joseph Parkes, 1851-1853 (Ref: PARKES); two letters relating to University business, 1826-1827 (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE); correspondence and papers among the papers of Jeremy Bentham (Ref: BENTHAM); Place's inscription in Bentham's 'Not Paul but Jesus' (London, 1823) (Ref: OGDEN 577); 13 items of correspondence of William Bridges Adams with Sir Edwin Chadwick, 1836-1866 (Ref: CHADWICK); a typescript autobiography of William and Elizabeth Adams's son, William Alexander Adams, who was born in Chile in 1821 (Ref: MS ADD 401).