There is a wide spread popular belief that all roads on the Harringey Ladder between Green Lanes and Wightman Road are named after famous military and or naval personalities. The foundation of this belief is uncertain to say the least.
In a little known manuscript in Hornsey Library Local History Room, C.J.Sidey, in 1930, attempted to make an attribution for all the street names in Hornsey; in the case of the Ladder he suggested attributions for most of the roads but three were unattributed, and only ten of the twenty two roads related to naval or military personalities.
It is possible to find alternative attributions for a number of roads by examining written histories of Hornsey. Daniel Lysons, writing on Hornsey at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mentions a number of people whose names may be commemorated in the Ladder road names.
John Wollaston, an alderman of London, and Lewis Atterbury an early rector of Hornsey were buried at Hornsey, as was William Umfreville, Gentleman of Hornsey.
Francis Pemberton, Kings Justice, had a memorial inside the parish church at Hornsey.
The arms of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, are one of those recorded on Hornsey church tower.
One of the Manors in Hornsey, Topsfield, was held for a time by Margaret Mattison, and William Cavendish gave another, Farnefields Manor, in Hornsey, to King Edward VI.
Ducketts is most likely a reference to the manor in Tottenham, formed from the estate which Thomas Burgoyne gave to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1460.
Seymour, Marquis of Hertford, figures in the account of Arabella Stuart’s escape form Highgate.
In 1976 another explanation of the road names was advanced in the Hornsey Historical Society Bulletin. Members of a Masonic Lodge meeting in Hornsey may have contributed towards the development of the Hornsey Station and Harringay Park Estates, and some, or all, road names were decided by them as they were developed. In particular, it was claimed that a Dr Hewitt lent his name to Hewitt Road. Certainly, the records of the Harringay Lodge, in the British Library, show that William Hewitt was a member of this lodge, formed in 1899 in Seymour Road. However, the British Land Company sale plans of the 1880s suggest that the roads had names prior to their development. It could of course, have been the case that Hewitt was a member of one of the Finsbury Park or Muswell Hill Lodges that were formed in the 1870s, before the development began. Unfortunately, the British Land Company records were destroyed in the Second World War; so it is difficult to check how the company decided on the road names.
Whilst none of this is conclusive it is at least possible to say with certainty that the popular belief that all the roads are named after famous military and or naval personalities has no foundation. For example, neither Sidey or Lysons, nor the Dictionary of National Biography, can offer an explanation for the name of Lausanne Road.
Wightman Road appears to have started as an access road to Hornsey Station, built by the Great Northern Railway Company in 1860s, which was extended during the development; how or when it got its name remains to be determined.
Some of the roads may indeed commemorate famous military or naval personalities but by no means all of them, and quite probably only a minority.
You broke Londonist's link...
Yeah, I know. I was trying to tidy things up and ended up deleting the wrong thing. I have let them know and hopefully they'll change it. Their link to the post is still intact though. SO anyone interested can still find the download.