Parish Register Newsletter: April 2009

Welcome to the parishregister April newsletter. First of all I'd like to say a big thank you for the scores of you who provided advice about Ladybirds! I'm now an expert on the little creatures and can confirm after close examination of one that it is a common native ladybird, and after careful, only joking! I notice that each month another 50 or so newbies (have I spelt that right? Is it a word?) sign up for the newsletter. I hope you find it useful and interesting, and please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any comments, positive or constructive. This month we've got two new CDs, two popular maps on offer (Rocque's  Survey of London and London and its Environs) and I've included a collectable books section.

Searchable Databases

 To search the site click here

New CDs

Parish Register Series

St Dunstan Stepney 1835-1837 CD 3288 entries

To buy this CD please click here

St Mary Whitechapel  1775-1792 CD 17493 entries

To buy this CD please click here

Coming soon

The Merchant Taylors 1520 to 1929 (36000 entries searchable database and CD) and a new page on the website all about the Merchant Taylors

Now in transcription are:

St George in the East 1848-1861

St George in the East 1861-1877

St Dunstan Stepney 1837-1848

Other selected products

East of London FHS Publications


Docklands Ancestors Parish Register CDs

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Docklands Ancestors Parish Register CDs - Compendiums

Watermen & Lightermen


Alan Godfrey maps


Rocque's 1745 Survey of London


This poster map shows London in 1745 in extraordinary detail. Jean Rocque was one of the first cartographers to accurately represent the City , both in scale and in detail.
London in 1745 is shown as stretching from Buckingham House in the west to the Tower in the east. At this time Stepney can be seen as a far off hamlet in the countryside to the east of London! Northwards, Hoxton is out of town and southwards only the riverside is inhabited.
This map will be of much interest to family historians, as well as to those who simply appreciate fine drawing. To buy this map click here

London and its Environs 1813


London and its Environs 1813.Reproduction map from an engraving by Henry Cooper, published by Sherwood, Neely and Jones.
This massive map, measuring 800mm x 480mm, shows London in 1813, from Hyde Park in the West to West Ham in the east, Finsbury Fields in the north to Kennington in the south.
It is impossible to do justice to this wonderful map with a tiny picture.
Ideal for framing and excellent value for money. To buy this map click here

More about:

St Mary Whitechapel  and Whitechapel

Although the church of St. Mary, Whitechapel, was at first only a chapel of ease to Stepney, it is of great antiquity, since there is record of Hugh de Fulbourne being rector there in the year 1329. As early as the 21st of Richard II., according to Stow, the parish was called Villa beatæ Mariæ de Matfellon, a name the strangeness of which has given rise to many Whitechapel legends. According to Stow, the name of Matfellon was given it about the year 1428 (6th Henry VI.), from the following circumstance:—A devout widow of the parish had long time cherished and brought up of alms a certain Frenchman or Breton born, who most "unkindly and cruelly," by night, murdered the said widow as she slept in her bed, and afterwards flew with such jewels and other stuff of hers as he might carry; but was so freshly pursued, that for fear he took sanctuary in the church of St. George, Southwark, and challenging the privileges there, abjured the king's land. Then the constables in charge of him brought him into London to convey him, eastward, but as soon as he was come into Whitechapel, the wives there cast upon him so many missiles and so much filth, that notwithstanding all the resistance of the constables, they slew him out of hand; and for this feat, it was said, the parish purchased the name of St. Mary Matfellon.

From: 'Whitechapel', Old and New London. This is a fascinating article, more about the area than the church but well worth the read, so if you want more click here

St Dunstan Stepney

As a parish Stepney did not come into being until the twelfth century, but long before then a chapel had been built on the track that led from the Bishop's Hall, and crossed what is now Old Ford Road on the way down to the river. In every place the oldest road is that which leads to the river, and this track may he taken to have followed the line of Globe Road, White Horse Lane, round to White Horse Street to Ratcliff. Curiously enough, a part of White Horse Street is still referred to as the Old Road. A mile south of the Bishop's Hall a little chapel was built for the spiritual welfare of the dwellers by the waterside. To provide a suitable place for their Christian burial a spot was necessary that was beyond the belt of marshland, and this fact accounts for the distance it stood away from the habitations. This chapel is said to have been dedicated originally to All Saints and subsequently to St. Dunstan after his canonisation, which was one accepted by the Anglo-Saxon Church by popular acclamation. To read the rest of this article click here

If nothing has tickled your fancy but still would like to look around our shop, click on this picture:

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Book Reviews

Greenwich: Center of the World (Images of England) by David Ramzan

Illustrated with over 200 images, the book brings to life bygone days when Greenwich was a major tourist attraction where visitors could take a steamer trip along the river, spend a day in the park to watch the deer or visit the theatre or a famous riverside tavern. At the turn of the twentieth century, it was also a fashionable area in which to live with many Regency style and Edwardian buildings. Although today much of Greenwich's heritage has been lost, this book will show what a wonderful place Greenwich was and still is today.

Greenwich (Archive Photographs)

This book looks at the history of the Borough of Greenwich from the 1850s to the end of the 20th century. All aspects of the community are covered and shows how it has changed from a rural to an industrial society. Lavishly illustrated with over 250 archive photographs, this book is a must for anybody with an interest in this area so steeped in London's history.

Other selected titles

My Ancestors were Thames Watermen: A Guide to Tracing your Thames Waterman and Lighterman (by James Legon)

James's book includes an extensive appendix which covers Masters of the Company; Doggett’s winners; plying places on the Thames; Legon family tree; useful addresses and websites; a timeline of the Thames; lighterage companies; clerks of the Company; watermen in the Navy; watermen archives at the Guildhall Library; 1671 table of fares; number of apprentices and freedoms by year; 1809 list of members; London’s Docks; subscriptions for the first Asylum; 1628/9 Admiralty Muster and a list of publications available on CD.

Silvertown:An East End Family Memoir by Melanie McGrath

Hackney Memories by Alan Wilson

Thames Ship Towage 1933-1992 by J. E. Reynolds

The Annual Hop: London to Kent (Archive Photographs) by Hilary Heffernan

Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Remembered by Stephen Humphrey

Around Lewisham and Deptford in Old Photographs (In Old Photographs) by John Coulter

Canning Town (Pocket Images) by Howard Bloch and Nick Harris

Memories of Wapping 1900-1960 'couldn't afford the Eels' by Martha Leigh

Around Plaistow (Archive Photographs) by George Taylor

Collectable Books

London's East End (Life & Traditions)

This is probably the best East End book I've come across. Not only is it lavishly illustrated throughout, the wealth of detail is quite breathtaking. It is obvious, and supported by the bibliography, that a tremendous amount of sources have been researched for this book. Highly Recommended byJames, website founder.

Under Oars: Reminiscences of a Thames Lighterman, 1894-1909

An incredibly rare book, one of the only ones written by a Thames lighterman, about the arduous job of working on the river.

East End: Four Centuries of London

This study examines the evolution of the Tower Hamlets - Bethnal Green, Poplar, Hackney and Stepney - and sifts through the facts relating to an area notorious for its violent crime, political unrest and poverty. He argues that the area is a microcosm of the tensions apparent in British society as a whole, derived from the impact of the Industrial Revolution, the age of the railway, the two World Wars and the current invasion of the young rich.

Tales of a Thames Lighterman

When the last London Lighterman's as dead as the dodo, stuffed under glass in the new Dockland Museum, with his Waterman's badge, cloth cap and choker, tourists may wonder what he was, what he did, and where he went. This is his story - a tale of the Thames in days past: of its people, parties, wharves and docks, coffee shops and pubs, of dear Rosie and other, different ways.

This book is incredibly rare and this is possibly the only copy on the market.

This book has been published in a Limited Edition of which the book on sale is Number 233

Thomas Doggett Pictur'd

This is a rare first edition,

'An enquiry into the claims to authenticity of the few supposed representations from life of this famous comedian and such idea of his physical appearance and personality as can be derived from contemporary descriptions (including his own)'
The image shown on the front is known as the Sherborne painting, by Thomas Murray, accepted as a contemporary portrait of Thomas Doggett.

Useful Sites

I was looking for sites to do with the origins of surnames and came across this site and obviously the first thing I did was look up my own name. I bet a few of you will be tempted to do the same!

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Biblical

Pronounced: JAHN-ə-thən (English), YO-nah-tahn (German)  

From the Hebrew name יְהוֹנָתָן (Yehonatan) (contracted to יוֹנָתָן (Yonatan)) meaning "YAHWEH has given". In the Old Testament Jonathan was the eldest son of Saul and a friend of David. He was killed in battle with the Philistines. As an English name, Jonathan did not become common until after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was the Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), who wrote 'Gulliver's Travels' and other works.
This site is a real find, especially to those of you who are, like me, still novices in the genealogy field. The only disappointing thing is that it doesn't mention this site which I believe is an excellent, and inexpensive tool to use in the search for your ancestors, not requiring people 'to sign up' for anything. Anyway here are some of the sections you may (or may not) find useful.
One other site I came across is this one which covers the Kent area and is called the Index of Kents wills up to 1650. It's free to look at, so you've got nothing to lose!

Ramblings from the Council Estate

A few weeks back my other half managed to secure two free tickets to see a singer,Paolo Nutini, ( I mst admit I had never heard of him) perform at Wilton's Music Hall. Always suspicious of anything that perports to be free I asked her what the catch was (will they sell us timeshares when we get there, as happened to me once upon a time? Or will it be a burnt out shell of a building and one sick joke?) On further research I found out that he does exist (despite the name he has a broad Scottish accent) and so does the hall. The term music hall sounded Victorian to me which aroused my curiosity so I consulted my friends Google and Wiki and found out a lot more about it. If you'd like to do so as well (why I'm not sure), although it is down near Tower Bridge, then read on; the theatre is an unrestored example of the 'giant pub hall'. In the theatre, a single gallery, on three sides and supported by 'barley sugar' cast iron pillars, rises above a large rectangular hall and a high stage with a proscenium (what's that mum?-she knows everything) arch. In its heyday, a 'sun-burner' chandelier of 300 gas jets and 27,000 cut crystals, illuminated a mirrored hall. Today, charring is still visible in the rafters, where the chimney exhausted the heat of this massive device. The hall would have had space for supper tables, a benched area, and promenades around the outside for standing customers. Anyway, back to the concert, it was great. Only about 400 people in the hall so we were in spitting distance of the band (no we didn't spit!) It turns out this was a chance to try out some of his new songs in front of an audience and then put the results on You Tube to promote them further. If you'd like to hear a sample of his singing then click here.

I'm just back at school this week after the Easter break. I must admit I did not a lot for the first week, except for a bit of gardening as the grass has suddenly taken off following the warm weather and a decent bit of precipitation. Last week though we shook off the lethargy and toddled off to Sheffield and then Leeds. William, my not so little brother, lives in Sheffield and my cousin Sue lives in Leeds. After quickly getting frustrated trying to book cheap bus or train tickets on line we decided to go up in the Transit. I arbitrarily decided I would get there and back on £45 of diesel. Once I set my mind on something I go for it. I knew 70 all the way would scupper my plans, so decided on a steady 45 m.p.h. Despite being overtaken by every other vehicle on the road we plodded on only stopping for the odd comfort break. Four hours later we arrived in Sheffield. However my insufficient route planner downloaded from the internet let me down and I spent the next hour doing U-turns all over Sheffield. and it took another hour to find William! The journey to Leeds was much easier as I borrowed William's Sat Nav, although it seemed funny taking instructions from a little black box, and at one point it even indicated I was driving across a field, though not a blade of grass did I see! Although we only spent a couple of days in Sheffield we had a good time; walking their 3 month old Spaniel (although the little critter made a right mess of the van chewing up newspaper and sticks), climbing through caves barely bigger than me, and I even chopped up loads of logs for William's wood burning fire (not as easy as it may at first appear!) Oh yes, after a leisurely drive back, and 450 miles in total, I still had a quarter of a tank of fuel left, how satisfying!

Finally, an AOL update. If you remember I asked for compo, did I tell you they rejected a cash compensation, but offered me 2 months free internet connection. Considering I've moved to BT this offer seemed bizarre! Since the I've discovered that they hadn't closed my account and were still billing me for a non existant connection! More letters of complaint ensued and then today another letter from them offering me £52! What do you think? Is that enough for nearly seven months of aggravation?

Finally, finally, another joke:

Three elderly men are at the doctor for a memory test. The doctor says to the first man, What is three times three? 274 was his reply.

The doctor says to the second man, It's your turn. What is three times three? Tuesday, replies the second man.

The doctor says to the third man, Okay, your turn. What's three times three? Nine, says the third man. That's great! says the doctor. How did you get that?

Simple, says the third man. I subtracted 274 from Tuesday.

All the best

Jonathan and the team


-A Passion For Family History-

© Docklands Ancestors Ltd.