Street View: 1 and 18 Suppl.
Address: 41 King William Street
In 1825, Edward Mountcastle, the son of Montague Mountcastle of Bedford Court, Covent Garden, was apprenticed to William White of Cheapside, Citizen and Feltmaker. Edward obtained his freedom from the Feltmakers’ Company after the regular term of seven years in August 1832. His address is then given as 23 Gracechurch Street which was the address of his cousin Sidney Harman Mountcastle, also a hatter.(1) Only a couple of months later, Edward married Frances Harris Weeks, who was probably a relation of William White’s wife Susannah Weeks. We can follow the subsequent addresses of the couple from the baptism records of their children, although the story is not as straightforward as at first may appear:
1833, September – Gracechurch Street: Montague Edward baptised at All Hallows Lombard Street
1834, July – King William Street: Fanny baptised at St. Magnus the Martyr
1839, July – King William Street: Emma baptised at St. Magnus the Martyr
1845, October – St. George’s Street: Charles Edward, Alfred, Walter baptised at St. George, Camberwell
1848, June – Albany Road: Mary Ann baptised at St. George, Camberwell
1851, June – London Street, Greenwich: Frank baptised at St. Alphage, Greenwich
For the purposes of this blog, the King William Street entries are the most relevant. A whole neighbourhood had been razed to the ground for the construction of the new approach road to London Bridge, named after King William IV. The plan above shows what happened. The darker area is the outline for the new King William Street and outlined in red is the property that became Mountcastle’s hat shop. If we look at the Land Tax records for 1833, the houses in the area are bracketed together and listed for the New London Bridge Committee. In 1836, however, Mountcastle’s name appears as one of the occupants of the “redeemed” properties. In one of their advertisements, Mountcastle’s neighbours, George and John Deane, ironmongers at number 46, display their new shop and say that their “present premises” were erected in 1833, so presumably that was also the year in which number 41 was erected as it is situated in the same block of houses.
In 1841, Edward and Frances are listed in the census with their 3-week-old baby Charles. Although the three children who were born after the 1841 census were all baptised together in 1845 in Camberwell, it does not necessarily mean that Mountcastle gave up his shop in King William Street. In the 1843, 1848 and 1851 Post Office Directories, 41 King William Street is still the address for the hat shop. And Tallis in his 1847 Supplement also still listed Mountcastle at number 41. Only in the 1856 Post Office Directory was he listed at 22 Cannon Street. And at some point, he even had a shop at 10 London Street, Greenwich. The census returns for 1851 shows the family living in Greenwich, while at King William Street we find William Haldin(?), a carpenter, which seems conclusive, but the tax records tell a different story. There, Mountcastle is only listed for King William Street till 1844. There is a gap in the records, so the next year available is 1847 and Mountcastle is no longer there, but one Robert Wass is paying the tax. However, in 1852, bankruptcy proceedings are started against Mountcastle and he is still described as of 41 King William Street and London Street, Greenwich. At some point in 1852, he signs over his leasehold properties for the benefit of his creditors. I am guessing that Mountcastle rented out (part of?) his 41 King William Street property and tried to raise money that way when things got tough in the 1840s.
As we saw in the 1856 Post Office Directory, Edward could next be found in Cannon Street where, at the end of 1856, he dissolves a partnership with one William John Rushby. The gentlemen had been trading as hatters under the name of J. Jenkinson and Co.(2) In the 1861 census, Edward, Frances and four of their children are found at 276 Albany Road. This may have been the same property as the one listed in the baptism record of Mary Ann, but as that does not give a house number, it may be a different house in the same street. At some point Mountcastle must have had a shop on the corner of King Street and Bedford Street, Covent Garden. It is, however, unclear when and for how long that was, but it was certainly after he had been at King William Street. Edward died in 1867 and the registration district is given as Strand, so he was possibly still living in Soho.
I tried to find out what happened at 41 King William Street after Mountcastle left, but as the tax records do not provide house numbers, that it is not so easy. We saw that the 1851 census for the parish of St. Magnus the Martyr listed Harlin the carpenter, and in 1861, it is one Edward Hart, a hosier, who occupies the premises. Ten years later it is Alfred Hayward, a customs officer, who lives at number 41, and in 1881 one William Taylor, a tobacconist’s manager, but none of these people seem to appear in the Land Tax records, so presumably they were all renting. Goad’s insurance map of 1887 lists the property as a ‘studio’, and it still looks as small as when Mountcastle lived there. The northern end of the block, that is, number 46, was taken over in 1890 by the City and South London Railway Company for their King William Street Station, but it was not to last. The station was closed in 1900 (see here for more information) and Regis House was built on top of the station, not just obliterating the station entrance, but the whole block of houses from numbers 40 to 46. The Regis House you see today is a modern replacement from the 1990s, but they have retained the access to the platforms of the station which was used as an air-raid shelter in the war (more information and photos here).
(1) Sidney’s father William was the brother of Edward’s father Montague.
(2) The London Gazette, 2 January 1857.
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