We're grateful to Ken Stevens for kindly sharing with us details of his forebears, the Dixon family, who played an important role in the early history of the Cloudesley Estate as cattle traders.  The following account is a summary of Ken's much more detailed and entertaining account of the Dixons which you can access here.  Note that this is the first time we've been able to establish a direct link between early residents of the Cloudesley Estate and their present-day descendants.

The patriarch of the Cloudesley Dixons for our purposes was Basil Dixon (variously known as Joseph Basil, Joseph Bazel or Basil Joseph) who was born into a farming family in Molash, Kent, in 1799.  In about 1825, just as the speculative building around the Cloudesley Estate began, Basil moved with his family to Elizabeth Terrace (now Cloudesley Place) via Islington Green.  Here he set up a cattle trading business with his nephew, Thomas Dixon, also born in Molash, in 1811, who had moved at about the same time to 33 Cloudesley Street on the corner with Cloudesley Place (he is described in the 1841 census as a "Beast Salesman"!)  A commercial directory of 1841 lists their business as "Dixon Basil & Thos, Cattle Salesmen, 8 West Smithfield".  They also owned one or more cattle "lairs" in Islington, where cattle on the way south to London were fattened up before the last few miles into Smithfield.

By 1851 Basil had moved to Colney Hatch, Friern Barnet and purchased a substantial farm.  The Dixon business now included driving cattle south via Muswell Hill, Archway, Holloway and Liverpool Road to the lairs around Angel Islington.  After the Metropolitan Cattle Market opened in 1855 this no doubt became an increasingly important destination for the livestock and the firm of Dixon Basil & Thos opened another office there at 6 Bank Buildings.

Ken has plotted the route the cattle probably took to market, with various contemporary landmarks they would have passed on the way, and this is shown below.

Dixon Cattle Route Reconstituted PNG


Here's a larger image of the charming print of 1822 showing cattle and sheep been driven down Archway (the bridge shown was constructed in 1813 after a tunnel under Hornsey Road had collapsed; this first bridge proved too narrow for the volume of traffic and the present bridge was built to replace it in 1900).  We may reflect that in the decades after this pastoral scene of livestock moving downhill south into Islington there was a gradual migration in the opposite direction of their increasingly prosperous owners to the by now more desireable new suburbs of Highgate, Hampstead and Muswell Hill, driven in part, ironically, by the proximity in Islington of the unwholesome slaughtehouses of the Metropolitan Market and the truly noxious associated trades in Belle Isle.

03 archway 1822 2


Royalagricultural hall pre ww1

Both Basil and Thomas Dixon had large numbers of children and were also joined in Islington by a variety of relations.  Some of this Dixon clan moved with Basil to Friern Barnet but many remained in Islington and throughout the 19th century there are a bewildering variety of Dixon families living in and around the Cloudesley Estate.  Most had links directly or indirectly with the cattle business.  We have records of Dixon properties not just in Cloudesley Place and Cloudesley Street, as already mentioned, but also in Cloudesley Road, Theberton Street, and three properties on Liverpool Road: No. 79 (previously 12 Strahan Terrace) and Nos 91 and 143 (previously 5 and 31 Cloudesley Terrace respectively).  No 79 was occupied by the family of Thomas Dixon junior, AKA Thomas Gill Dixon, son of the earlier Thomas.  Dixon lairage was purchased for the building in 1862 of the Royal Agricultural Hall, directly opposite.


143 145 Liverpool Road Islington late 19th centuryNot surprisingly, we have various records linking Dixons to Holy Trinity Church.  At least three baptisms took place there of children of William Dixon, Basil's eldest son, who in both the 1851 and 1861 censuses was living at 5 Cloudesley Terrace, now 91 Liverpool Road.  He was also a cattleman and owned lairs nearby.

Line 246, no. 1706:       George Dixon b. 1852,  5 Cloudesley Terrace, of William & Mary

Line 268, no. 1983:       William Dixon b. 1855,     Cloudesley Terrace, of William & Mary

Line 278, no. 2084:       Walter Dixon b 1857,    4 Cloudesley Terrace, of William & Mary

Interestingly, from 1871, 143 Liverpool Road was occupied by the family of William's cousin,Thomas Gill Dixon, who appears to have moved in fairly quick succession from 33 Cloudesley Street, to 79 Liverpool Road (Strahan Terrace), to 143 Liverpool Road (31 Cloudesley Terrace, on the corner with Cloudesley Square).  In fact by the 1891 census the family had grown so much that they had also taken over 145 Liverpool Road next door - see contemporary photo above.

We are also aware of at least one Holy Trinity marriage, between Thomas Gill Dixon and Elizabeth Coventry in 1872.  Here's a marvellous photo of the couple c1895 which was kindly supplied by Jen Dixon - who, like Ken, is another living descendant!

Thomas Gill Dixon c1895 3



William Warren Dove Scan CroppedFinally, an exciting connection between the Dixons and the building firm of Dove Brothers!  One of Basil's daughters, Frances, married William Warren Dove (born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, surprisingly - see extract, right) son of the founder and a director of the firm.  They lived at 5 Upper Theberton street.  In other words, what we have here is the linking of two great Cloudesley dynasties which in their different ways, via cattle and building, had a huge impact on the history of the Cloudesley Estate.




#2 Annita Clinton 2020-11-27 09:21
Lovely piece of local research. Particularly enjoyed the Archway print and photo of the cattle market.
#1 Kate Price 2020-11-17 17:53
This is fascinating. Thank you very much