Argyll Street was named after John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, owner of the land in the 18th century.
Sixty acres in the parish of St Martin in the Fields were granted in January 1560 by Queen Elizabeth to William Dodington. In 1622, Richard Wilson sold some 35 acres of them to William Maddox, a merchant taylor of London.
Maddox’s estate comprised 11½ acres called Millfield. Millfield, which took its name from Tyburn Mill, was on ’the east side of the highway from Charing Cross’ (i.e. Swallow Street
The western portion of Millfield was bisected by a footpath leading from the north-west corner of the field to the gate on the north side of Six Acre Close. This footpath later became Kingly Street
. Benjamin Maddox’s lease of Millfield to James Kendrick in 1670 marked the beginning of building development. Kendrick sub-let the ground to various tenants who began to build. At the end of the seventeenth century, Abraham Bridle and John James had a sub-lease of land fronting Tyburn Road, where they started building. Bridle gave his name to a passage on the east side of the footpath.
In 1706 John Campbell, second Duke of Argyll, became the inhabitant of a house on the east side of King (Kingly) Street which stood on the site now occupied by the western end of Little Argyll Street. Between 1706 and 1732 the Duke, in stages, acquired all the leasehold in the open land behind his house including two bowling greens. In February 1733 he purchased the freehold from Benjamin Pollen and three years later, he vacated his house. The estate was laid out for building.
A newspaper of 23 September 1736 described the situation: "Two rows of fine houses are building from the end of Great Marlborough-street through the waste ground and his grace the duke of Argyle’s gardens into Oxford-road, from the middle of which new building a fine street
On 6 March 1736 the Duke signed articles of agreement with Thomas Phillips and Roger Morris, whereby the three agreed jointly, "to build on the ground of the said Duke in Saint James Westminster … one New Street of dwelling Houses to be called Argyll Street".
Like Sackville Street
, which was being laid out about this time on the Pulteney estate, the building of the houses seems to have been the work of individual craftsmen.
Two houses were occupied in 1738, about ten in 1739, and there were still two or three empty houses by 1745.
Little Argyll Street was formed in 1739–40, a year or two after Argyll Street
The Argyll estate appears never to have been a fashionable place of residence. The most notable occupants were professionals with soldiers and doctors being prominent in the latter part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries.
The formation of Regent Street
greatly altered the layout of the estate. In 1820, 35 Argyll Street was demolished in order to open a way from Regent Street
into Great Marlborough Street
. This new opening was called Argyll Place. Argyll Place was widened in 1923, and in 1925 the name was abolished when it was designated as part of Great Marlborough Street
The northern part of Kingly Street
was closed and its site is now occupied by Regent Street
and by the buildings on its east side.
The formation of Regent Street
had the effect of separating the more fashionable streets to the west from those of less consequence to the east, and so far as the Argyll estate was concerned probably accelerated the social decline.