Street View: 38
Address: 38 Poultry


The index to Street View 38 lists G. and H. Greenland, booksellers at 38 Poultry, but the Street view itself has G. & A. Greenland and that is correct. The gentlemen were George and Alfred Greenland, the sons of Edward Greenland who had a bookshop at 2, later 3 Finsbury Place. George, the eldest, was baptised in 1794 at St. Luke’s, Finsbury and Alfred in 1800 at St. Leonard Shoreditch. In 1816, Alfred is apprenticed to one Thomas Greenland, presumably a relative, who was a member of the Innholders’ Company. Father Edward died at Ipswich in 1818 “where he went for the recovery of his health”.(1) A “body stone” with the text “In memory of Edward Greenland, of Finsbury Place, London, who departed this life the 21st of November 1818, in the 44 year of his age” was placed on the north side of St. Matthew’s Church, Ipswich.

Morning post 8-11-23

Advert in The Morning Post, 8 November 1823

After the death of his father, George took over the shop at Finsbury Place, but as late as 1822, a notice appeared in The London Gazette that anyone with a claim on the estate should come forward. By 1828, Alfred had joined his brother and the bookshop had been relocated to 38 Poultry. The first advertisement I found for the brothers together is in The Edinburgh Review where they advertise the 6th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as well as “an extensive stock of new and second-hand books”. And should you happen to have a spare library, they were quite willing to buy it or take it in exchange. And the year after they have “cheap books on sale” and in particular the Annals of Sporting of which they have “bought the few remaining copies of the assignees of the publishers” and are therefore able to offer the 78 numbers of the periodical at the “very reduced price of 4l. 14s. 6d.”. In other words, they dealt in remainders.

1829 Foreign Review Jan

Advert in The Foreign Review, January 1829

In 1842, the partnership between the brothers was dissolved.(2) The notice in the Gazette does not say that George will continue the shop in the Poultry, but that is what happened and he also diverged into auctions. In June 1842, he announces the sale of “a collection of books, consisting of 7000 volumes – 162 copperplates of the Contemporary Portraits, 2 vols, folio – 4120 engravings of the Churches of London – 280 vols of County History, by Lysons, Ec, &c.”. He also announces in the advert that he will do “valuations for the legacy duty”.(3) The following year he auctions Bibliotheca illustrata et splendisissima … choice and valuable books … from the library of an eminent collector.(4) But he no longer just deals with books; in 1844 he auctions “all the excellent modern household furniture” and “the lease of the house twenty years un-expired Lady-day last” of the property at 16, Norton Street, Portland Place, which had a gallery with “one of the finest lights in London for an artist”.(5) By 1851, George has retired and is living at 4 Laddiges Building in Hackney. He subsequently moves to Somerset where he dies 21 November, 1863. Probate is granted to his daughter Emma.(6)

British Museum

Satirical print by George Cruikshank ©British Museum

Alfred in the mean time started his own shop after the break-up of the partnership as book and print seller at 4, Old Broad Street, Royal Exchange. But he only kept the shop till 1849 when the sale of his stock of “books, pictures, drawings and prints” was announced, because Alfred was “relinquishing the business”.(7) From the 1851 census, we learn that Alfred and his family have moved to Chapel Allerton in Yorkshire where he has become a “stock and share broker”. Ten years later, he can be found in Leeds where he is listed as the manager of the Leeds Banking Company, but he must already have combined that post with his bookselling business as in the 1843 Post Office Directory we find him listed as the bank manager at Leeds. The bank collapses, mainly due to Alfred’s poor management, and he was tried for falsifying the returns made to the Inland Revenue of the amount of the notes issued by the Bank. It turns out that of the 234 returns sent in between January 1860 and June 1864, only five were correct; the rest had been fiddled with. After submitting three sureties of £1,600 each, Alfred was granted bail, but was eventually convicted in October 1866 and sentenced to 15 months in prison with hard labour.(8) But he did not have to serve his whole sentence. After three months in the hospital prison he was granted a free pardon, much to the disgust of those who lost their money when the Leeds Banking Company folded.(9) The 1871 census shows Alfred and his family living at 9 Royal Crescent, Scarborough, Yorkshire, as a “retired stockbroker”. He died there in 1877, two years after his wife. Probate was granted to his son and daughters.(10)

Leeds Banking Company

Source: Bonhams.com

(1) Bury and Norwich Post, 2 December 1818. Probate was granted 5 December 1818 (National Archives, Kew: Prob 11/1611/62)
(2) London Gazette, 18 March 1842.
(3) The Athenaeum, 4 June 1842.
(4) British Library: 11902.d.31.
(5) The Morning Post, 9 December 1844.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1863. The estate is valued under £5,000.
(7) The Athenaeum, 10 March 1849.
(8) Hull Packet and East Riding Times, 15 June 1866. A full account of the trial can be found in The Leeds Mercury, 26 October 1866.
(9) http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1867/aug/05/motion-for-an-address
(10) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1877. The estate is valued under £4,000.


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