Every Street in Palmers Green #2 again: More about Deadman’s Bridge

We have had several great comments with more information following my post about Deadman’s bridge – thank you Sylvia Gambin and Steve Foster.

And Richard McKeever from the excellent Bowes and Bounds Connected has given us the  following information about Richard Nicholson who is mentioned on the Palmers Green sign. He became Clerk of the Peace in 1869 and retired and died in 1913.  The bridge itself dates from the 1880s. Here is what Richard says (you can read the full article at

“The office of clerk of the peace – like that of his boss, the Justice of the Peace – dates from the Fourteenth Century when they had a criminal law function to investigate “all manner of poisonings, enchantments, forestallings, disturbances and abuses”, by the Sixteenth Century their work extended to include more mundane administrative functions for the county. As the bureaucratic workload of Middlesex County Council grew, particularly during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, more officers were appointed for specific tasks, but the offices still retained their medieval names.

Nicholson was born in Hertfordshire in 1828 and educated in Exeter – but he spent some of his early life even further south as a surveyor in New Zealand he was part of the New Zealand Company team that In 1844, sailed on the Deborah, to survey and purchase land from local Maori leaders. Nicholson is credited with laying out the city of Dunedin. On one occasion during his trip to New Zealand’s south Island he found himself in danger as the ship chartered to take him and his colleagues ran into difficulties – Nicholson’s story is recorded in the book “Early contributions to the History of New Zealand” by Thomas Morland Hocken:

Colonel Wakefield prior to his own departure from Wellington had despatched the Carbon, a 20-ton schooner to Otago on the 26th of June, having on board Messrs. Richard Nicholson and Albert Allom, who were surveying cadets, and seven men selected for their knowledge of bush work. The voyage was perilous enough, …. Driven into various bays, their food exhausted, sails split to ribbons, and all but wrecked, the voyagers did not reach their destination for a month after leaving Wellington.

Nicholson survived the journey completed his surveying work and returned to London where he became a solicitor in 1852 and took up the role of Clerk of the Peace in 1869.

In his later life he was embroiled in a minor controversy when the Southgate Recorder questioned his income and expenses – much like our modern day MPs expenses scandal. A stipend to the Clerk of the Peace was used by him to employ his own staff. The local paper celebrated the change to more transparent arrangement where staff became individual employees of Middlesex County Council.

Richard Nicholson was Knighted in 1886, in recognition of his public service he retired and died in 1913 and his obituary was published in the Times as well as newspapers in New Zealand and Australia.”


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