Brethren Archive

Lonsdale Square - Homes of J.N. Darby and J.B. Stoney

Islington, London, N1

Lonsdale Square is a traditional Victorian garden square.
3 Lonsdale Square, home of John Nelson Darby
23 Lonsdale Square, home of James Butler Stoney
Short distance between Lonsdale Square and the meeting at 57 Park Street.


Mr Darby and Mr Stoney both lived in the same garden square in Islington, N1. It would have only been less than a ten minute stroll from here to the meeting at 57 Park Street. One can only imagine what pleasent walks they would have enjoyed together on Lord's Day mornings as they made their way to the meeting.

In 1881 JBS was listed as one of the two corresponding brothers for the meeting.

Today houses in the square would sell for almost £3 million.

Fr. Robert (Anglican) said ...
I have long loved the history of those called "the Brethren"! I inherited my great-grams "Brethren" library, when just about 15 (I am 64 now). She was first among the so-called 'Kelly Brethren' (an exclusive group) in Ireland, then.. and later she went with the Open Brethren. Perhaps no one in my young life had such a "biblical" influence on me! What Grace and Providence!

Besides of course JND (as many others "Brethren"), I have some half dozen books or so by J.B. Stoney! A very spiritual Christian man, Stoney!

*Though the history of 'the Brethren' is very flawed and human, they were simply profound men & women of God!
Tuesday, Dec 31, 2013 : 20:18
Tom said ...
Thanks for your message! Tom
Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 : 23:03
Sue said ...
I would love to have some books by J. B. Stoney, If anyone has any for sale, or knows of any for sale at a reasonable price. Thanks, email me at:
Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014 : 19:17
Tom said ...
Dear Sue,
Books by JB Stoney are '2 a penny' second hand and can be had from Chapter Two Books in the UK. Also new volumes can be ordered from Kingston Bible Trust I believe. In the USA i'm not sure, sometimes they appear on Ebay but maybe KBT mentioned above have some distribution.
Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 : 18:11
Ed. said ...
Hello Tom. I was just wondering if Darby or Stoney’s place were kept on by brethren and who lives there today. Are the buildings leaning slightly, like Pisa?
Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 : 22:16
Tom said ...
Hi Ed,
No they were just private residences (JND didn't actually own the house in Lonsdale Square he lived in), and so quickly were passed onto others after their deaths. Those houses would today cost about £5m each!! so my pipe-dream of having one of them for a 'Brethren Museum' is probably not going to happen any time soon :-) No they are not leaning .. but I can see why you would say that from looking at the pictures! Think it's just an illusion of a wide angle lens!
best, Tom
Monday, Sep 21, 2015 : 08:41
Researcher said ...
It’s right that J N Darby didn’t own the house at 3 Lonsdale Square but was a tenant there. In his March 1881 Will he referred to his ‘apartments’ in this house and made a provision of £50.00 for his housekeeper, Mrs Wykes, and her two sons but there is no mention of his ownership of this property.

In January 1857 J N Darby had still been a lodger with Catherine and George Wigram at 19 Howley Place in west London, but the Wigrams planned to move to 3 Howley Place in “Midsummer” that year and they didn’t want J N Darby to continue living with them in their new house. For some months George Wigram had been raising this matter with Darby and finally on 5 January 1857 he wrote suggesting J N Darby do something about the situation. J N Darby replied that his travel schedule had made it difficult for him to decide what to do about finding new accommodation for himself and his library. He commented that he was “content” to go along with things but that his books would be more “cumbersome” to remove than he was.

Perhaps it was losing his London base in the Wigram household that prompted his removal to the Islington family home of Sarah and Ebenezer Gregg at 3 Lonsdale Square.

3 Lonsdale Square was in a much more select area of Islington than the ‘East End’ home of J N Darby’s extended family member, the Rev’d William Pennefather, vicar of St Jude’s Church, Mildmay Park 1864-1873. This exemplary and pioneering clergyman (born 1816, died1873) was the son of Baron Richard Pennefather of 5 Merrion Square Dublin. The Baron was the older brother of Edward Pennefather who was married to J N Darby’s sister, Susan (Susannah), and J N Darby had had considerable contact with William in Dublin and in the Lake District when William had been a young man. I haven’t found any reference in J N Darby’s writings that he met the Rev’d William Pennefather in Islington, but I think it’s likely that their paths crossed sometimes. Two very different men!

An interesting book, “Life and Letters of Rev. William Pennefather B.A.”, was edited by the Rev. Robert Braithwaite in 1878 and published by John F Shaw and Co. of 48 Paternoster Row, London. Princeton Library has uploaded it and in this edition you can read the Rev’d Pennefather’s (and on one occasion his sister’s) letters in which he refers to J N Darby (always called Mr. ______ ) and the Brethren: pp 23-27 from March 1835; pp 42-43 October 1836; page 50 March 1837; pp 69-70 September 1839; page 94 exact date unknown but circa 1840; page 402 from 1865 when the Rev’d William Pennefather was the incumbent of St Jude’s Mildmay Park, Islington.
Monday, Sep 21, 2015 : 10:57
Tom said ...
Thank you very much 'Researcher'! For any one interested, the link to the book mentioned is here.
Monday, Sep 21, 2015 : 14:02
Ed said ...
Oh that explains the apparent “leaning” of the building then Tom. It is still not clear if brethren kept the house going after Darby or Stoney’s home-calls. Anyway no worries, for after all we don’t for example inquire who kept on Paul’s rented accommodation in Rome, or who the landlord was, (Acts 28: 30).

On another tack I often wonder where Darby was living when he publicly circulated his excellent paper “The notion of a Clergyman - Dispensationally the sin against the Holy Spirit”. I know from reading volume 1, pp 36-51 in his Collected Writings, that he initially held back from circulating the paper but there is no indication at what point in time or place the paper was circulated. Maybe he launched it from Lonsdale Square? Any idea?

Regards, Ed.
Monday, Oct 19, 2015 : 18:59
Researcher said ...
It was in the mid 1830s that J N Darby wrote the tract, ‘The Connection of the term clergy with the penal guilt of the present dispensation, and the sin against the Holy Ghost.’ It was later published under the title, ‘The Notion of a Clergyman, dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost.’

In this pamphlet John Darby wrote, “the notion of a Clergyman puts the dispensation [these two words printed in italics] specifically in the position of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and that every Clergyman is contributing to this [these eight words in italics]. The sin against the Holy Ghost was the ascribing to the power of evil that which came from the Holy Ghost: and such is the direct operation of the idea of a Clergyman.”

We know from one reaction to the first issue of this tract that people, and especially some godly clergy, were offended by J N Darby’s bald statement that “every Clergyman” contributes to the sin against the Holy Ghost. Charles Hargrove, who had left the Irish church in 1835 to join the Brethren, sought to defend John Darby over the matter: ‘Mr. Hargrove says of this pamphlet, “Seeing the offence it has caused, I would it had never appeared; ... in excitement from unreasonable opposition, Mr. Darby may have said things, and given offence that I am sorry for; and for which, I believe, were he now by me, he would authorise me to express his sorrow.”’ (Page 100 ‘The Institutions of the Church of England are of Divine Authority’ by the Rev’d Joseph Baylee, 3rd edition Dublin, 1838.)
Tuesday, Oct 20, 2015 : 10:05
Ed said ...
To ‘Researcher’

I respectfully recommend you do a little more searching, for it looks like Darby is being disproportionately misrepresented by the 19th century clergyman Joseph Baylee in your post, (which does not surprise me). Despite Baylee’s apparent appeal to an assumptive here-say quote via a third party ally of brethren, the Baylee’s appeal dissolves away in light of Darby’s own account of the situation. Please allow for the principle of John 7:51 here. Darby explained the rationale of the tract in his collected writings and I recommend you read Darby’s own reasons for the tract. As Darby himself states inter alia: “…It was bruited about, and of course held, that I charged each clergyman with the sin against the Holy Ghost, which the tract itself entirely disclaims…” (Volume 1, p.37 Collected Writings).

Moreover, regardless of time and place, “The Notion of a clergyman – dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost” is in my view overall proportionate; scripturally and spiritually insightful, and a very sound and erudite explanation of the situation at hand. I thoroughly recommend reading all fifteen pages, including the preface, as the subject is in my view just as relevant today as it was in the time it was written. Here is a link below to the said pages for anyone who would like to read Darby’s own account but has not got the books. With thanks and acknowledgement to Stem Publishing for the site:


Tuesday, Oct 20, 2015 : 15:52
Researcher said ...
As a young man J N Darby spent time living at 20 Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Dublin, with his sister Susan and her husband Edward Pennefather. Today it's possible to visit the Georgian House Museum at number 29 Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Dublin.

Mr and Mrs E Pennefather moved from 20 Fitzwilliam Street Lower to 5 Fitzwilliam Square in 1835.
Thursday, Nov 5, 2015 : 08:58

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