Sir Francis Burdett
dwSir Francis Burdett lived at 16 Royal Crescent from 1814 until 1822. As a politician, he was an ardent champion of electoral reform at a time when it was crucially needed, and he worked tirelessly throughout his life to expose abuses of power wherever he encountered them. As a baronet whose favourite recreation was foxhunting, he seems an unlikely standard-bearer for such nineteenth century ideals as prison reform, freedom of speech, and the abolition of flogging in the army; but he served two terms of imprisonment for his outspoken views, and was heavily fined. He never lacked the courage and determination to challenge corruption in public affairs; in 1809, when the Duke of York was involved in the unsavoury business of bartered army commissions, he seconded the motion in the House of Commons for an enquiry into the Duke’s behaviour. He was MP for Westminster then, and represented the constituency for thirty years. No politician of his day had greater integrity.