- Downing Street
- No. 10 Downing Street has been the official residence of the prime minister since 1735, when George II gave it to Sir Horace Walpole to serve for that purpose. Downing Street is a street leading off Whitehall and a synonym for the British government. The street is named after Sir George Downing (1623-1684), who was both a parliamentarian and an ambassador, serving under Cromwell and then Charles II.The son of a Puritan lawyer and the second graduate of Harvard College, he served in the military for a while during the English Civil War and was a member of the Parliament during Cromwell's protectorate. Downing was a selfish and treacherous person. He switched his politics, in 1660, to support the restoration of the Stuart monarchy. Under Charles II he became the ambassador to Holland, but his diplomatic intransigence caused the Second Dutch War.In 1671 Downing was sent to Holland for the express purpose of fomenting another war, but his behavior there was so despicable, so abominable, that it infuriated the Dutch, and he had to flee for his life. No excuse, so far as Charles II was concerned! He had Downing imprisoned for deserting his post. After his release from confinement, however, he was given a high financial position, which he held for the rest of his days.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.