James Wagstaff was a local property developer, involved in building projects around Canonbury and Highbury Crescent. He lived in Highbury Lodge and, despite his role in shaping the area, was listed in several sources as 'gentleman' or 'esquire'. However, a more realistic insight into his professional life is given by an 1847 theft case. As the victim, he gave evidence of how
I am a surveyor—I live in Albion-terrace, Canon-bury-square, lslington—I have a yard at the back of my premises, where I keep building materials—I know this kitchen range, it is mine—I lost it from my yard three or four days before I was before the magistrate, which was on the 19th of Feb.—my yard is enclosed by a wall—the gates are kept locked...His fellow churchwardens have left less obvious trace, although John Shadgett lived in Liverpool Road and was also a 'gentleman'.Their appointment as churchwardens was itself a confirmation of their social status.