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John Lee and family

All information kindly supplied by Danny Boon

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John Lee: born approx.1740, had a dad who was almost certainly already in the building business. During 1750s, the family were building properties in and near Chiswell Street and Finsbury Place.
By the time John Lee dies, in 1793, he is able to pass on to his kids at least the following:
'A house at the corner of Chiswell Street & Finsbury Place' which was occupied by a Grocer business at 1792, name of Moffatt & Williams, but owned by Lee.
His own house, No.30 Chiswell Street, along with its 'stables, sheds and etc.' plus some of the 'groundrents coming in from Ropemaker Street'.
No. 31 Chiswell Street, along with its 'stables, buildings & etc'
No. 36 Chiswell Street, then rented to a Mr Godfrey (Thurman?)
No. 39 Chiswell Street, then rented to a Mr Bryant Taylor.
His half of 'The Trade', including horses, carts, bricks and utensils, etc.
Considerable sums of money and future rental income from his land and houses.

John Lee had 4 (surviving) children, John, b.1763, Henry, b.1764, Sarah, b.1768, and Edith, b. 1775.
(We believe there were other children, who didn't live very long - quite common then... we're still searching). (Sarah is my wife's Gt Gt Gt Gt Grandma).

Henry is the main mover from 1793 0nwards: he continued developing the business, followed by his sons: William, who ran a cement works, pushed the (then) revolutionary Portland cement, and is credited with 'inventing' the cement mixer in at least one source. We suspect he might have had a lot to do with it, but more likely as an improver and seller of mixers...
Henry's son (also a Henry!) was prime mover of building the Amsterdam Ship Canal, aided by his dad, who died before the job was completed. Between them, Henry (dad) and Henry (son) built a huge number of projects - and we believe, at the moment, that the Half Moon had been built by John Lee, possibly assisted by his dad by around 1760.
We can't be dead sure about this yet, but it is very likely. It is also very unlikely that any of the Lee family ever ran a pub - it wasn't their game - but they certainly owned the Half Moon by 1837, as it was willed by Henry to his family along with a lot of other local property. See below.

What seems very likely, however, is that this family didn't build a house here and a house there - they built entire streets in one go. Chiswell Street was probably a one-off development which included several houses - the pub - and possibly other necessary buildings (maybe a school, for example?). Which leads us to guess that the Lees owned the Half Moon from square one, having built the whole street.
This approach is even more likely when we consider that among the other works they undertook over the years, they did extensive building for several railway companies in and around London, and on the Dumfries line, the Caledonian line, Harwich sea wall, Dover harbour walls and docks, Plymouth docks... etc., etc.
Not bad, when the first John Lee was described as a 'bricklayer' around 1750-ish!

A little more on Henry, b.1764, d.1837... I am halfway through a very tricky transcription of a bad copy of his will - but so far, he includes in his will to his family:
Property in Slades Lane Deptford.
His own house, land, and 'the cottage in the cherry orchard' at Camps Hill, Hither Green, Lewisham.
Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 Finsbury Place South, city of London.
Nos. 2 and 3 in London Wall.
Nos.28, 29 and 30 Long Lane, London.
Nos 4, 5 and 6 Brunswick Place, Deptford New Town.
Property in Camden Place, Lewisham.
Nos 3, 5 and 6 Lee Place, Lee, Kent.
(I wonder if any of those were pubs??)
House, garden, land and premises at 'the seven mile stone' on the Bromley Road.
AND: 'My leasehold messuage or tenement or premises known as the Half Moon on Grace Church Street, London, currently on lease to Mr Taylor'.
Now - this could be the Mr Taylor who was renting No 39 Chiswell Street (above)... was he involved in all this building work? We're still searching!




* Provided By Danny Boon

**** Provided By Kevan

And Last updated on: Saturday, 18-Jan-2020 23:59:00 GMT