James Burton (1761-1837)
James Burton was born in London to a Scottish builder, William Haliburton who shared an ancestor with Sir Walter Scott. Shortening his name from Haliburton to Burton in the 1790s following a family dispute.. James had a large family; out of the twelve children they had, they lost two in infancy: Emily Elizabeth due to Smallpox and Emma following an inoculation.
Renown as builder
He was described as probably the most significant builder of Georgian London and was responsible for constructing large areas of Bloomsbury, as well as Clapham Common and St Johns Wood. He also worked with John Nash in designing Regent’s Park. In addition to the property development enterprises which enjoyed considerable success, James Burton invested greatly in the manufacture of gunpowder from 1811 in the Medway area, selling this product in London via his partnership with his eldest son.
Moving to St. Leonards in 1826, during 1828 he commenced the design and construction of a new town at St Leonards, based upon his experiences at Regents Park with common design features at both locations. This was on land that had at one time been part of the Manor of Gensing but had recently come onto the market. Although primarily a builder, James Burton designed many of his works, those at St Leonards in partnership with his son Decimus, and examples of the construction and architectural drawings survive in the Hastings Museum.