Parish Register Newsletter: May 2007

Dear Subscriber

Hello and welcome to the May newsletter. In this month's edition we have all the news on the latest transcriptions, new CDs, useful websites, our own list of the top 10 most useful websites, a poll and and some freebies too. There's also good news on the goldfish front too.

Online Searchable Databases

Transcriptions added to in the last month:

St Dunstan Stepney 1745-1770 - NOW COMPLETED.
St George in the East 1837-1848
St George in the East 1770-1794
St George in the East 1809-1815

Coming next will be:
St Dunstan Stepney 1734-1745
St Mary Whitechapel 1823-1832
St George in the East 1794-1809

Click here to search the databases now

New Docklands Ancestors Series CDs

ImageTwo new CDs out now:
Vol 40 St John Wapping 1781-1812
Vol 41 St John Wapping 1842-1865

Click here for Vols 40 & 41

Useful link: Survey of London

I came upon this site whilst looking for John Stow's 16th century Survey of London. This is the modern day equivalent, hosted by the excellent British History online website, in association with English Heritage. It's a borough by borough survey ( as yet incomplete ) and is an excellent way to get a grasp of the area in which our ancestors lived.

Click here for Survey of London

Book Review: Tales of London's Docklands

ImageTales of London's Docklands is an anthology of true stories, drawn from Henry Bradford's personal experience as a Registered Docker in the Port of London - when traffic through the docks was at its peak. Life as a docker was not for the faint hearted: men were killed and injured every day, and the work was physically extremely arduous. Despite this, there was a spirit of camaraderie, and close teamwork was essential in the ship and quay gangs. Now that the Docklands regeneration is virtually complete, and the landscape has been transformed, it's important that memories of day to day life in the past are preserved. Henry Bradford's vivid anecdotes bring this lost world to life. "Tales of London's Docklands" will appeal to anyone whose relatives worked as dockers, to social historians, and to anyone with an interest in the history of London's East End.

I laid aside my 12th re-read of Lord of the Rings for a read of something that is equally close to my heart. Contemporary accounts of working in the docks are few and far between, and certainly fading from living memory. This just published book I devoured in an evening. That's not to say it's got 20 pages, rather, I couldn't put it down once I'd opened its cover.

There's a similar book called Docklands Aprentice by a nice chap called Dave Carpenter, although from the perspective of the shipbuilding rather than the dock work industry.

Click here for Tales of London's Docklands

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

The bank holiday weekend 5th-7th May sees Docklands Ancestors at the WDYTYA?Live event at Olympia. This promises to be the biggest ever family history show in the UK, on the back of the popular TV programme. Family history is something that more and more people are interested in, and it's never been more easy to get involved. ( Preaching to the converted here aren't I? ). We have 10 complimentary tickets, worth £20 each, to give away. Simply answer these 3 questions and we'll send you your free ticket:

1. What year did civil registration start?
2. Which monarch instituted the formal recording of baptisms?
3. What is the name of the original parish church of Stepney?

The usual small print nonsense:
The first 10 correct replies received win.
One ticket per address only.
On notification of winning you will have to send a stamped addressed envelope.
There is no cash alternative prize.
Email replies, with WDYTYA? as the subject line, to

Click here for the WDYTYA? website

Notations in parish registers that gave me a chuckle

Came across these entries recently whilst checking transcriptions:

Friends of this and another child ran off un registered.

The curate was artfully imposed to baptise this child not born nor were parents of this parish.

The friends of a child went away as soon as it was named.

The person who attended with this child could not give information as to the whereabouts of the parents.


Poll: Are you a member of a Family History Society?

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Top 10 most useful websites

In compiling this list I've I've taken the perspective of someone new to family history. The sites therefore are of a general nature, but even experienced family historians, like most of you, will appreciate that it is important to re-visit some old favourites. No doubt some of you will have your own ideas about what I should have included, and of course I'd love to hear from you as to what they are. Maybe we should put these as a seperate section on the website? As ever, your views will decide matters.
I think it's also important to state that this is my own list and nobody has paid me to give them a mention. (You'll have to copy and paste to your browser to access these sites):

Other useful links

Slave ancestry

The latest batch of data to be put online from Ancestry are records pertaining to slaves and plantation owners. This BBC article explains further..

BBC Slave Ancestry article

Titanic passenger list have put the Titanic passenger list online, free to view, ( although you have to be registered to view it. Groan ).
Do you have ancestors who were aboard that night in 1912?

Titanic passenger list

Domesday Book

The National Archives have an excellent online exhibition at the moment about the Domesday Book. I read with amusement that 11th century monks had a daily beer allowance of 3 gallons :)

Domesday Book

London Parish Map

Free Tower Hamlets BMD Indexes

London Maps Through the Ages

Thames Riverside Series Parish Registers

Docklands Ancestors Parish Register CDs

East End history/photo books

More ramblings of an Urban Shed Dweller
Best get the medical bulletin out of the way first: We're all alive and well ! The ex has had her radiation treatment and it seems to have gone well. She's back to normal now and spitting venom as usual ! Ah, small mercies..

Lurking out of site in the pond is the sole survivor of the recent hungry heron attacks. If I see that heron, he's headed for the BBQ.

I've finally got my broadband connection sorted out, and America Offline out of my life. The simple expedient of migrating to Zen Internet got rid of the problem. I knew all along that the problem wasn't at my end, something AOL just didn't seem to accept was possible.

Now that the warmer weather is here I've been getting back to my day job, ( yes, I'd forgotten I had one too ). I'm a gardener ( is my other website ) during the summer months, which is a welcome relief from the 12 hours a day/7 days a week that I'm usually parked in front of a computor. I've got my younger brother Jon, who is off sick with stress from his usual occupation as a deputy headmaster, working with us at the moment. He's very keen. So keen in fact that when a mower ran out of petrol the other day I said, " Nip down the road and fill it up", meaning go to the van which we'd parked just down the road, get the petrol can and fill it up from that. I went back to cutting a hedge, but after a while he hadn't reappeared. The mower was gone too. I went out the front, no sign of him or the mower. 20 minutes later back he came, huffing and puffing, pushing the mower. Where have you been I said? Filling the mower up with petrol he said. Didn't you get the petrol out of the van I said? Oh, I thought you meant from the petrol station....

An afternoon's distraction was had from reading the newly published Tolkien book, the Children of Hurin. Thoroughly enjoyable, although somewhat depressing, as nothing good happens at this stage in the history of Middle Earth in the First Age. I won't spoil it for those yet to read it by revealing the plot, suffice it to say that we see the evil perpetrated by the original Dark Lord, Morgoth, at work in this tale, set seven thousand years before the events of the Lord of the Rings. The breadth of Tolkien's imagination, sketching this history of a world in such detail through thousands of years, leaves me feeling quite giddy. But, hey ho, I'm an author too! ( ok, we best move on swiftly at this point James...)
Click here for website
Reading Room

John Stow's Survey of London, written first in 1598, is something that continues to fascinate me. He is the best source in print for what London was like in the time before the Fire in 1666. The Hollar exhibition at the Guildhall Library I saw recently complement Stow's words beautifully and the two taken together allow a visualisation of this more or less vanished city that I find utterly fascinating. The except below, copied from the excellent Tuft's Digital Library, illustrates the continuing importance of the ancient Roman Wall that once defined the city limits. I find it amazing that in the 16th century, before today's sophisticated means, people had a knowledge of what had occurred in their city 12 centuries before.

As I'm sure you know, London's whole reason for being was the river Thames. But it wasn't the only river in London, as this passage highlights:

Of Auncient and present Rivers, Brookes, Boorns, Pooles, Wels, and Conduits of fresh water, seruing the Citie, as also of the ditch compassing the wall of the same for defence thereof.
AUNCIENTLY, vntill the Conquerors time, and 200. yeres after, the Citie of London was watered besides the famous Riuer of Thames, on the South part, with the riuer of the wels, as it was then called: on the west, with a water called walbrooke running through the midst of the citie into the river Thames, seruing the heart thereof. And with a fourth water or Boorne, which ran within the Citie through Langboorne ward, watering that part in the East. In the west suburbs was also an other great water, called Oldborne, which had his fall into the riuer of Wels: then was there 3. principall Fountaines, or wels in the other Suburbs, to wit Holy well, Clements well, and Clarkes well. Neare vnto this last named fountaine, were diuers other wels, to wit, Skinners well, Fags well, Tode well, Loders well, and Radwell. All which sayde Wels hauing the fall of their ouerflowing in the foresayde Riuer, much encreased the streame, and in that place gaue it the name of Wel. In west Smithfield, there was a Poole in Recordes called Horsepoole, and one other Poole neare vnto the parish Church of Saint Giles without Cripplegate. Besides all which they had in euerie streete and Lane of the citie diuerse fayre Welles, and fresh Springs: and after this manner was this citie then serued, with sweete and fresh waters, which being since decaid, other meanes haue beene sought to supplie the want, as shall be shewed: but first of the aforenamed Riuers and other waters, is to be said, as following.
Thames the most famous riuer of this Iland, beginneth a little [1603.12] aboue a village called Winchcombe in Oxfordshire, and still increasing passeth first by the university of Oxford, and so with a maruelous quiet course to London, and thence breaketh into the French Ocean by maine tides, which twice in 24. howers space doth eb and flow, more then 60. miles in length, to the great commoditie of Trauellers, by which all kind of [p. 12] Marchandise bee easily conueyed to London, the principall store house, and Staple of all commodities within this Realme, so that omitting to speake of great ships, and other vessels of burden, there pertayneth to the Citties of London, Westminster, and Burrough of Southwarke, aboue the number as is supposed of 2000. Wherryes and other small boates, whereby 3000. poore men at the least bee set on worke and maintained.
That the riuer of Wels, in the west parte of the Citty, was of olde so called of the Wels, it may be proued thus, William the Conqueror in his Charter, to the Colledge of S. Marten le Grand in London, hath these wordes: I doe giue and graunt to the same Church all the land and the Moore, without the Posterne, which is called Cripplegate, on eyther part of the Postern, that is to say, from the North corner of the Wall, as the river of the Wels, there neare running, departeth the same More from the Wall, vnto the running water which entereth the Cittie: this water hath beene long since called the riuer of the Wels, which name of riuer continued, and it was so called in the raigne of Edward the first: as shall bee shewed, with also the decay of the saide riuer. In a fayre Booke of Parliament recordes, now lately restored to the Tower, it appeareth that a Parliament being holden at Carlile in the yeare 1307, the 35. of Edward the 1. Henry Lacy Earle of Lincolne complayned that whereas in times past the course of water, running at London vnder Oldeborne bridge, and Fleete bridge into the Thames, had beene of such bredth and depth, that 10. or 12. ships, Nauies at once with marchandises, were wont to come to the foresaid bridge of Fleete, and some of them to Oldborne bridge: now the same course by filth of the Tanners & such others, was sore decaied, also by raising of wharfes, but specially by a diuersion of the water made by them of the new Temple, for their milles standing [1603.13] without Baynardes Castle, in the first yeare of King Iohn, and diuers other impediments, so as the said ships could not enter as they were wont, & as they ought, wherefore he desired that the Maior of London with the shiriffs, and other discrete Aldermen, might be appointed to view the course of the saide water, and that by the othes of good men, all the aforesaide hinderances [p. 13] might bee remoued, and it to bee made as it was wont of old: whervpon Roger le Brabason, the Constable of the Tower, with the Maior and Shiriffes were assigned to take with them honest and discrete men, and to make diligent search & enquirie, how the said riuer was in old time, and that they leaue nothing that may hurt or stop it, but keepe it in the same estate that it was wont to be: so far the record. Whervpon it folowed that the said riuer was at that time cleansed, these mils remoued, and other things done for the preseruation of the course thereof, notwithstanding neuer brought to the olde depth and breadth, wherevpon the name of riuer ceased, and it was since called a Brooke, namely, Turnmill, or Tremill Brooke, for that diuers
Mils were erected vpon it, as appeareth by a fayre Register booke, conteyning the foundation of the Priorie at Clarkenwell, and donation of the landes thereunto belonging, as also by diuers other records.
This brooke hath beene diuers times since clensed, namely, and last of all to any effect, in the yeare 1502. the 17. of Henrie the 7. the whole course of Fleete dike, then so called, was scowred (I say) downe to the Thames, so that boats with fish and fewel were rowed to Fleete bridge, and to Oldburne bridge, as they of olde time had beene accustomed, which was a great commoditie to all the inhabitants in that part of the citie.
In the yeare 1589. was graunted a fifteene, by a common Councell of the citie, for the cleansing of this Brooke or dike: the money amounting to a thousand marks was collected, and it was vndertaken, that by drawing diuerse springes about Hampsted heath, into one head and course, both the citie should bee serued of fresh water in all places of want, and also that by such a follower as men call it, the chanell of this brooke should bee scowred into the riuer of Thames, but much mony being therein spent, ye effect [1603.14] fayled, so that the Brooke by meanes of continuall incrochments vpon the banks getting ouer the water, and casting of soylage into the streame, is now become woorse cloyed and then euer it was before.
The running water so called by William Conquerour in his saide Charter, which entereth the citie, &c. (before there was any ditch) betweene Bishopsgate and the late made [p. 14] Posterne called Mooregate, entred the wall, and was truely of the wall called Walbrooke, not of Gualo, as some haue farre fetched: it ranne through the citie with diuers windings from the North towards the South into the riuer of Thames, and had ouer the same diuerse bridges along the Streetes and Lanes, through which it passed. I haue read in a Booke intituled the customes of London, that the Prior of the holie Trinitie within Aldgate ought to make ouer Walbrooke in the ward of Brodstreete, agaynst the stone wall of the citie, vz. the same Bridge that is next the Church of All Saints, at the wall. Also that the Prior of the new Hospitall, S. Marie Spittle without Bishopsgate, ought to make the middle part of one other Bridge next to the said Bridge towardes the North: And that in the 28. yeare of Edwarde the first, it was by inquisition found before the Maior of London, that the parish of S. Stephen vppon Walbrooke, ought of right to scowre the course of the saide Brooke, and therefore the shiriffes were commaunded to distraine the sayde Parishioners so to doe: in the yeare 1300. the keepers of those Bridges at that time were William Iordan and Iohn de Beuer. This water course hauing diuerse Bridges, was afterwards vaulted ouer with bricke, and paued leuell with the Streetes and Lanes where through it passed, and since that also houses have beene builded thereon, so that the course of Walbroke is now hidden vnder ground, and therby hardly knowne.

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Kind regards,
James and the ParishRegister team

A Tolkien riddle:
What do not idly fall?


-A Passion For Family History-

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