A Case of Identity, Mapped

As I tried searching for another street name other than the infamous ‘Baker Street,’ I came across Leadenhall Street in the Sherlock Holmes short story A Case of Identity. Before completing my research I re-read the short story and concluded that this street had a huge significance in the story because it aided as a clue in Sherlock Holmes investigation. In A Case of Identity, Miss Mary Sutherland goes to Sherlock’s office in hopes of him identifying where Mr. Hosmer Angel, the man she was just about to marry on Friday, is. Miss Sutherland reveals to Sherlock that her stepfather, Mr. Windibank refused to help her find him and her only resort was to sneak out of the house she was confined to, and come talk to Holmes. Later on in the story, as she continues giving information to Holmes, Miss Sutherland reveals that there are letters that have been written to her (apparently) from Mr. Hosmer, but the only possible identification that the typewritten letters are from him is the subscription of Leadenhall Street, a vague clue but where Mr. Hosmer Angel was said to reside.

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Once I found the significance of Leadenhall Street, I decided to conduct some research about it. Using “British Histories Online”, Leadenhall Street housed the Old East India House, where the East India Company was located. Although it is not certain where the East India Company “first transacted their business” (Thornbury), “the tradition of the house is, that it was in the great room of the “Nag’s Head Inn,” opposite Bishop’sgate Church, where there is now a Quakers’ Meeting House” (Thornbury). After a large fire burned most of the India House, the lasting remains of the building were sent to a British Museum for preservation. I thought this was interesting because as mentioned in A Case of Identity, this is where the letters for Miss Sutherland were sent. My assumption is that Mr. Windibank did not want the letters he wrote to his step-daughter, as Hosmer, to be marked suspicious; so he cleverly had them marked as coming from Leadenhall Street, because that would make Miss Sutherland less suspicious as to who could have written the letters since it was a very busy area.

I also found that Leadenhall Street was home to Sir Hugh Neville’s mansion in 1309, which was later “…converted into a granary, and probably a market for the City” (Thornbury). Along the east side of the Leadenhall Market was a large chapel “dedicated to the Holy Trinity, by Sir Simon Eyre” (Thornbury). According to “British Histories Online”, Leadenhall Street was home to many priests, merchants, foreigners, and visitors. Like any city, Leadenhall brought in much revenue as many people traded, purchased, and sold a plethora of items. Specific to the Leadenhall Market “in Strype’s time” (Thornbury) it was a “…market for meat and fish, a market for raw hides, a wool market, and an herb market” (Thornbury).

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Lastly, I used the “Charles Booth Online Archive” to identify the poverty classification around Leadenhall Street. According to the map, Leadenhall Street was located near the financial district in London, which seemed to be a very busy area. For the most part, the citizens were of upper-middle class and wealthy. There are certain points of the map that recognize just the middle class; as the light blue areas point out the poor class.

All in all, I found that using maps could be a useful tool in researching information that is otherwise looked passed. I conclusively found the significance of an important street in A Case of Identity, and even learned some history about it!

Works Cited

“Leadenhall Street.” Charles Booth Online Archive: Booth Poverty Map. London School of Economics and Political Science. Web. 9 November 2014.

Thornbury, Walter. ‘Leadenhall Street and the Old East India House’ Old and New London: Volume 2. British Histories, 1878. Web. 9 November 2014.


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