The great eighteenth century statesman and political philosopher often stayed in Bath, chiefly for reasons of health. In 1756 he underwent medical treatment by Dr Christopher Nugent, who offered him hospitality at his home, Circus House, at the corner of Bennett Street and the Circus. Here Burke met the doctor’s daughter, Jane Mary Nugent, and married her the following year, 1757; their younger son, Christopher, was named after Dr Nugent.
Burke was elected MP for Bristol in 1774, and served the city in that capacity for six years. He was a powerful speaker; Dr Johnson said of his conversation: ‘He does not talk from a desire of distinction, but because his mind is full’. He abhorred extremism in politics, and never approved of the French Revolution; until he end of his life he remained a hostile opponent of the French state, and his views in this context lost him the close friendship of Charles James Fox and Sheridan.
Early in 1797 his health declined seriously, and he came again to Bath, staying at 11 North Parade. He had always vigorously supported the campaign against slavery, and, shortly before he died, Wilberforce, who was then in Bath, visited him frequently. In May 1797 he wrote to a friend: ‘I have been in Bath these four months to no purpose and am, therefore to be removed to my own home at Beaconsfield tomorrow, to be nearer a habitation more permanent, humbly and fearfully hoping that my better part may find a better mansion’. He died two months later, in July 1797.
The bronze tablet on the wall of 11 North Parade was unveiled in October 1908, by Mr Whitelaw Reid, the American Ambassador.