Street View: 5
Address: 37 Newgate Street
Tallis lists the shop at 37 Newgate Street for W.J. Blundstone, but that should have been W. & J. Blundstone. In 1837, William Blundstone, Joseph Blundstone and William Brown dissolve their partnership as warehousemen at 37 Newgate Street.(1) The two Blundstones are to continue the business, but two years later that partnership is also dissolved and William is to continue on his own.(2) In the 1839 notice, their address is given as 31 Gutter Lane and the 1838 land tax records already give a Mr. Milbourne as the occupant of number 37, indicating that Tallis’s Street View booklet number 5 was indeed published in 1838 as the preface to the facsimile edition surmises. The 1837 electoral register for Christchurh, Newgate Street, saw both Joseph and William still at 37 Newgate Street, but I do not know at what date the names were entered in the registry. So, the Blundstones moved the business from Newgate Street to Gutter Lane between March 1837 and (early?) 1838, and Tallis only just caught them, but they had not always been at Newgate Street.
An 1815 insurance policy with the Sun Fire Office and a trade card in the British Museum Collection tells us where Brown and Blundstone were before they occupied the Newgate Street property, as they are listed as silk manufacturers at 21 Foster Lane. The Rate Assessment book for St. John Zachary shows William Brown, from 1811 onwards, at number 21, which was next to Bell Square. However, the General Post Office had their eyes on the area for their new building and the Act of Parliament 55 George III c. 91 provided for a grand site, obliterating the houses between Foster Lane, St. Martin le Grand, St. Ann’s Lane and Round Court. Brown and Blundstone are listed in the rate book until 1820, but then the entry for the property said, “empty in consequence of the intended new Post Office”.
The later rate books show a separate section for the houses requisitioned for the Post Office:
The undermentioned Houses were taken down and form part of the Seite of the New Post Office in pursuance of the Act of Parliament of 55 George 3 C. 47(3) and under the 8th Section of that act and the particular circumstances are to be rated according to the rates made for this Parish from the 25th day of March 1814 to the 25th day of March 1815 which was one rate for the whole year payable Quarterly wherein the said Houses are assessed as follows …
What follows is a list of ‘late’ owners with their assessments and rates; for W. Brown the value assessed was £75.-.- with a corresponding rate of £3.8.9. The Report of the Select Committee on the proceedings following the Post Office Act lists 21 Foster Lane as occupied by William Brown and William Blundstone.(4) They are also the leaseholders, but the freehold is in the hands of Francis and Elizabeth Piercy. The assessment for the property tax is £60 in the Report, but at some point that must have been raised to the £75 that the Rate Book lists. The London Metropolitan Archives have several boxes of documents, dated 1770-1823, entitled “Suits in relation to property required for improvements”. Especially the ones of 1815 and later are of interest in the case of the improvements for the New Post Office and among the people taking up a case in the Mayor’s Court in 1816 are William Brown and William Blundstone (CLA/024/08/114). The names of the people who also filed a suite in 1816, tally with the names found in the list of householders in the Report of the Select Committee (see footnote 4). I have not seen the documents themselves, but the outcome of that case could very well explain the difference in property value, and hence the compensation awarded.
Kent’s Original London Directory of 1823 duly lists Brown and Blundstone at their new address at 37 Newgate Street as silk manufacturers and warehousemen. We already saw that they left Newgate Street in 1838 for Gutter Lane, but how long William remained in business after Joseph retired is not entirely clear. The 1841 census has him as a 54-year-old silk mercer, living at Cloudesley Square, with his wife Elizabeth (52) and three children.(5) William died in 1845 and in his will, which he wrote in September 1844, he described himself as ‘gentlemen’ of 2 Cloudesley Square, Islington, so certainly no longer in business.(6) We can get a bit closer to the date of his retirement as the 1843 Post Office Directory lists him as ‘esq.’ rather than silk mercer, so presumably he retired somewhere between 1841 and 1843. William’s widow Elizabeth died in 1855, and although she mentions her son William in her will, who was named ‘assistant’ in the 1841 census, she makes no mention of the silk business and it is not clear whether William jr. continued his father’s business.(7)
In 1838 or thereabouts, 37 Newgate Street became the address for Robert Milbourn, a silk warehouseman. In 1842, he, along with several other shopkeepers, was duped by Frederick Shackleford who pretended to be a Mr. Beamont who was buying goods for his new shop in Maidstone. ‘Beaumont’ came into Milbourn’s shop on several occasions and each time he ordered goods to be transported to the inn where he was staying. Each time he paid part of the sum required and was to pay the rest later. For references he gave the names of two people who could vouch for him, but as they were involved in the scam, their word was not worth a lot. The transcripts of the Old Bailey case give us several names of Milbourn’s employees and also the kind of goods he dealt in. Evidence was given by Donald Cameron, shopman, John Wells, counting house clerk, and one Freeborn (no first name given), a porter. Shackleford, alias Beaumont, bought yards of silk in various colours, artificial flowers, handkerchiefs, shawls, scarfs, crapes, and satinet.(8) There is no way of knowing whether Brown and Blundstone sold the same articles, but their stock was probably not very different.
(1) The London Gazette, 24 March 1837.
(2) The London Gazette, 12 March 1839.
(3) 55 George III. c 47: An Act for procuring Returns relative to the Expence and Maintenance of the Poor in England; and also relative to the Highways.
(4) Report by the Select Committee as published in Parliamentary Papers, volume 2 and The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, volume 6.
(5) Elizabeth Selby (22), Catherine (18), and William jr (20) who is described as ‘assistant’.
(6) PROB 11/2111/139. His burial took place on 4 April, 1845, at St James, St Pancras, but probate was not granted until five years later, No indication is given why it took so long to sort out.
(7) PROB 11/2215/210.
(8) Old Bailey case t18421024-3041.
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