Each week we solve one of London’s great mysteries (as submitted by you, the reader). This week Anne-Marie Morel of Kentish Town asks: ‘there is a plaque marking the former Embassy of the Republic of Texas in Pickering Place in Mayfair. Was the Lone Star State once a country of its own?‘
Well Anne Marie…
It sure was. The Republic of Texas, which existed from 1836 to 1845, was a sovereign state. Originally Texas was part of Mexico, but in 1836 it formed a breakaway republic from the country after General Sam Houston led the Texans to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto.
In an attempt to thwart an almost certain Mexican invasion, the new state began to develop international ties by opening legations in Paris, Washington and London. Initially, the British wouldn’t recognise the Texans, because of the UK’s friendly relations with Mexico, and the republic was unable to establish an embassy here. However, when Texas sought to join the United States in the 1840s, Britain encouraged it to remain independent, even offering to guarantee its borders with Mexico and the States and allowing it to set up a legation in 1842, at Pickering Place, St James’s Street, in a building that was also home to the wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.
This has not been forgotten by modern Texans. Twenty-five years ago, during the Texas sesquicentennial, 26 Texans clad in buckskin showed up at the wine shop (which is still there) to settle the republic’s outstanding debt of $160; it was repaid in Republic of Texas bills. When the Anglo-Texan Society installed the plaque in 1963, among those in attendance was former Texas governor Price Daniel and Tony Berry (a Berry Bros & Rudd descendant). George Charlton
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