The Twickenham Museum
People : Lawyers and Clergy

Matthew Duane
Roman Catholic lawyer
1707 - 1785

Mathew Duane: engraving after Giles Hussey

At the Grove

Matthew Duane, a Catholic, was possibly of Irish parentage. He came to live at The Grove, at the corner of Cross Deep and Heath Road, Twickenham in 1779. After he died his widow remained there for ten years.

Horace Walpole reported that he made extensive alterations to the property which were completed by 1782:
"Apropos, Mr Duane like a good housewife in the middle of his grassplot has planted a pump and a watering trough for his cow, and I suppose on Saturdays dries his towels and neckcloths on his apple trees."

Walpole enjoyed the facility of a witty turn of phrase usually verging on the malicious, which he employed here. However, in 1784 Walpole had reason to be grateful for Duane's assistance in resolving a family dispute.

A successful career and public service

Duane was a member of Lincoln's Inn although, as a Catholic could not be called to the Bar. Nevertheless he enjoyed a successful career as a conveyancer with offices both in London and Newcastle. His wife, Dorothy Dawson (1722-99), an heiress came from that city and this may have enabled him to buy estates (Wideopen & Donnington)in Northumberland.

A noted collector of ancient coins, He became a Trustee of the British Museum, a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries. When he died his widow arranged for him to be taken to Newcastle for burial in the church of St Nicholas.

Further reading:

D G C Allan, Some Noble Patriotic Men - and Women, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper no 69, 1994
Matthew Duane, FRS FSA Gold Medallist,Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol 144, Oct 1996. pp 35-37

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

back to top