He entered the cutlery trade in 1777 and served a seven-year apprenticeship. To the production of fine scissors, the firm added the making of razors and in both these classes of articles they acquired a fine reputation. Rhodes was elected in 1808 to be head of Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire and became Master Cutler.
In August, the members gave their president a gold cup in acknowledgment of his public services in the establishment of the Institution.
Rhodes started to become associated with debating societies. Its meetings were held at a public house in Sheffield.
Rhodes held a conspicuous place as an intelligent and fluent converser and as a Jacobin politician. Amongst this group were the Rev John Pye Smith the theological writer and James Montgomery the Christian poet and philanthropist.
These groups were eventually proscribed as they were thought to be a source of sedition.
Rhodes made many excursions with James Montgomery, to Monsal Dale, Millers Dale, and other parts of Derbyshire. He would spend days sketching in Dovedale with his fellow artist Thomas Christopher Hofland. In 1818 he published the first part of his folio edition of his " This was followed by part one of Yorkshire Scenery which was the only part ever published.
All his books involved him in financial loss, although his Peak Scenery remains a standard work.
Apart from these ventures, he had turned his attention to journalism, and for a number of years he was editor of the Sheffield Independent. Meanwhile his business failed, and before his death he became a bankrupt.
A fund was raised for his support, to which Montgomery subscribed £100., while Chantrey privately gave Rhodes £50/- a year. Rhodes thenceforth made a small income by preparing steel plates for engravers by a novel process.
He died, a poor man, on 16 December 1839 at his home in Victoria Street, Sheffield.