I live in Islington in a terrace of houses built by a dairyman called Samuel Pullen. Samuel Pullen built the terrace in the late 1760s and it was completed and partially occupied by 1770. When Pullen died in 1775, he left several of the houses in the terrace, then named Pullen’s Row, to his nephew who was also called Samuel Pullen. Pullen’s nephew was not a thrifty man and he became indebted to Samuel Rhodes who consequently seems to acquired ownership of the houses in Pullen’s Row.
Further research I undertook established that in the mid 19th century property in Pullen’s Row was owned by James Winstanley of Stamford Hill. Winstanley was the son of Richard Winstanley who set up an Auctioneer’s business in London in 1783. While his offices were located in Paternoster Row, auctions were conducted in the Garraway’s coffee house, a common practice for auctioneers at the time. The Times newspapers for the early 1800s carry hundreds of notices for auctions held by the Winstanley’s firm. James joined the family business in 1806 and in 1840 he formed a partnership with James Jones. The question was: how did Winstanley acquire the property in Pullen’s Row?
The answer seemed to be that in 1824 Winstanley had married Mary, eldest daughter of Samuel Rhodes. Rhodes had died in 1822 leaving an estate worth just under £35,000, equivalent to about one and a half million pounds today. His will stated that his legacy was to be entrusted to his executors: his brothers Thomas and William Rhodes, his son James Rhodes and Charles Lane of Bedford Row. To them he left “all and every of my freeholds and copyholds…lands and hereditaments and premises” to be sold ‘for the most money best price or prices than can be reasonably had or gotten for the same and either by public auction or private…’.
Further light is shed on the matter by the Journal of the House of Lords for 1826, which is held by the Parliamentary Archives. This records that 5 of the children of Samuel Rhodes together with James Winstanley brought before the Houses of Parliament a private petition. Their Petition requested an Act of Parliament that would empower ‘the Trustees under the Will of Samuel Rhodes Esq deceased to grant building leases, and for other purposes’. The petition was successful, and an Act was passed in 1826. This gave the Trustees of Samuel Rhodes Esq the legal power to use the land they inherited for building purposes, and freed them from the constraints of selling it. The Rhodes family went on to do much development in Islington: they were responsible for erecting properties in Sudeley, Elia, Gerrard, Danbury, Clarence and Hanover Streets, and parts of Colebrooke Row. The Act would have prevented the sale of Pullen's Row and enabled its transfer to James Winstanley.