John Adams’ Lease for the American Legation at No. 8 Grosvenor Square
[9 June 1785]1
Memorandum It is hereby agreed Between Thomas Like and Henry Turner of Frith Street Soho in the County of Middlesex Upholders on behalf of the Honourable John Byron2 of Purbright in the County of Hants of the One part and his Excellency John Adams Esqr. Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America of the other part as follows the said Thomas Like & Henry Turner on behalf of the said John Byron agree to let to the said John Adams and the said John Adams agrees to Rent and take all that Messuage or Tenement with the Appurtenance situate in the North East Angle of Grosvenor Square in the Parish of Saint George Hanover Square in the said County of Middlesex heretofore in the Tenure or Occupation of Lord Newborough since of the said John Byron now untenanted To hold the said Messuage with the Appurtenances from the 24th. day of June instant for the term of one year and 3 Quarters of a year wanting ten days At and under the yearly Rent of One hundred and Sixty pounds payable quarterly clear of all Taxes and deductions whatsoever except the Land Tax the first quarterly payment of the said Rent to be made the twenty ninth day of September next And the said Thos. Like and Henry Turner do hereby agree on behalf and at the expence of the said John Byron forthwith to paint the front parlour the drawing room over it and the shoot door and to make good all broken pains in the windows throughout the Premes and also all damaged parts of the Plaister work And the said John Adams agrees to keep the said Messuage and premises in good repair during the said term and to surrender up the same in such repair together with the fixtures and things mentioned in the Schedule hereunder written and hereto annexed and all other fixtures to the said Premises to the said John Byron his Executors Administrators or Assigns or to the said Thomas Like and Henry Turner on his behalf at the end of the said term in as good condition as the same are now in reasonable use and wear thereof and Casualties by fire only excepted In Witness whereof the Parties to these presents have hereunto set their hands the ninth day of June in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and Eighty five
Witness John Bartel.
Like & Turner
N 47. Frith St. Soho
Rec’d—1—Guinea for the Atty., who drew out the Stampt agreemt. which is with of the Honble. Mr. Adams—
MS (Adams Papers).
1. JA signed the lease for the first American legation in London, at 8 (now 9) Grosvenor Square on the corner of Duke and Brook Streets, but the task of finding a suitable residence for a U.S. minister fell to AA. She wrote Thomas Jefferson on 6 June that “my time has been much taken up since my arrival in looking out for a House. I could find many which would suit in all respects but the price, but none realy fit to occupy under 240£. 250, besides the taxes, which are serious matters here. At last I found one in Grovenor Square which we have engaged.” On 24 June she wrote to Mary Smith Cranch that “I was a fortnight all the time I could get looking of different Houses, but could not find any one fit to inhabit. . . . At last my good Genious carried me to one in Grovenor Square, which was not let because the person who had the care of it, could let it only for the remaining lease which was one Year and 3 quarters.” The Adamses moved in on 2 July and thereafter she “had a buisy time getting my House in order and procuring a thousand little necessaries.” In her journal letter to JQA of 4 July to 11 Aug., AA2 indicated that her new location was “pleasant,” described the house, drew a rough map of its location in the square, and mentioned some of the Adamses’ neighbors, including the Marquis of Carmarthen and Lord North (AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 6:170, 187, 204–205, 212–213, 240). For a 1789 view of Grosvenor Square and a photograph of the former legation, which still stands, see JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:xii–xiii, 288. See also Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 6, above.
2. This is Vice Adm. John Byron, British commander at the 1779 Battle of Grenada and grandfather of Lord Byron the poet (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1901; repr. Oxford, 1959–1960; 21 vols. plus supplements; rev. edn., www.oxforddnb.com. description ends ). He had occupied the house since 1780 (Greater London Council, The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part II: The Buildings, Survey of London 40, London, 1980, p. 124–126).