Brent archivist finds deeds to Brondesbury house owned by Frederick Engels

Lost documents show nineteenth-century philosopher rented property to married couple

A lost document that shows the nineteenth-century political philosopher Frederick Engels owned a house in Brondesbury has been found tucked away in Brent Archives.

The mortgage deed reveals for the first time that Mr Engels had been the owner of a house called Kingsley in Willesden Lane.

The fascinating manuscript, which includes his signature and lists his address as being in Primrose Hill, shows that the German philosopher had a mortgage on the house in 1883 and the ownership was transferred in 1887 to Emma Thorne, the wife of Alfred Thorne.

The couple had leased the property while it was owned by Mr Engels.

The document, which was found by archivist Kate Jarman, was drawn up by an Arthur Crosse, who is thought to have been Mr Engels’s solicitor.

The house was built in 1883 by the builders Samuel Blasby and Henry Hodges, alongside a number of other local properties in Brondesbury.

Most Read

Engels, a close associate of Karl Marx, was born in Barmen, Germany, and died in London in 1895.

Cllr James Powney, Brent Council’s lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said: “It is an amazing find for Brent Archives and demonstrates the quality of materials which it has available for anyone interested in discovering more about local history, family research or finding out more about the past in this area of north-west London.

“The documents offer a fascinating new insight into the financial affairs of Frederick Engels which scholars and academics were previously unaware of.”

Brent Archives holds an extensive collection of newspapers, council minutes, building plans, historical maps, street directories, electoral registers, school records, and old photographs and postcards which are available for residents to research the past.

For more information call 020 8937 3541 or