Parish Register Newsletter: November 2008

November 2008 Newsletter

Dear Subscriber
Hello and welcome to the November newsletter. This is written by Jonathan (or more familiar to readers of previous newsletters as Legon minor) Firstly I would like to say thank you to Esme for writing a touching newsletter in memory of James, the founder of Parish I would also like to thank the hundreds of you who e-mailed in your condolences on James’s death and said such wonderful things about him and his legacy, ParishRegisters. You also expressed your hopes that his legacy would continue and I can assure you all that it most definitely will! I, along with Yvonne and the rest of the team, shall try our best to do him proud and make sure the business continues to thrive.

In order to gain inspiration for writing this newsletter I have read all of James’s previous newsletters. In a way I now wish I hadn’t! I’ve asked myself, ‘how can I possibly live up to his standards?’ Also so many of you when e-mailing me your condolences commented on the quality and humour of his newsletters. Perhaps in time the quality and quantity will improve, but to attempt to match the quality of his prose and his wit would be futile; all I can do is try my best and I’m sure you’ll let me know how I’m doing (don’t be too brutal!).

To start with I need to come clean with you; I’m no expert in the field of family history, despite spending lots of time in the shed with James. The last few months have been a steep learning curve for me; finding out about transcribing, databases, customers, suppliers, accounts, banking, accountants, ISBN numbers…., but I’m getting there and yes, my enthusiasm is definitely on the up! So here goes.

Online Searchable Databases
Recently completed and uploaded are:

New Docklands Ancestors CD
Volume 57, St Mary Whitechapel Baptism Registers 1758-1774 is out now.
There's a bumper 12 584 entries on this CD! If you would like to buy this CD please click here:

New Docklands Ancestors CD
Volume 58 St Dunstan Stepney Baptism Registers 1770-1798 is out now.
There's an almost as big bumper 11771 entries on this CD! ! If you would like to buy this CD please click here:

Also now uploaded are:

Volume 59, Christ Church Stepney Baptism Registers 1842-1860
Volume 60, All Saints Mile End Baptism Registers 1840-1880
Uploaded and transcribed in double quick time, ahead of time, by Jim Shephard is the mammoth 18000 entry St Mary Whitechapel, 1774-1792
To search the databases click here:

In transcription now are:

St Anne Limehouse Baptism Registers 1854-1877
St Dunstan Stepney Baptism Registers 1835-1837
St George in the East Baptism Registers 1848-1861
Snippet of info on St George in th East
St George in the East on Cannon Street Road is one of six Hawksmoor churches in London, built from 1714 to 1729, with funding from the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches.When the church was hit by a bomb during the Blitz the original interior was destroyed by the fire, but the walls and distinctive "pepper-pot" towers stayed up. In 1964, a modern church interior was constructed inside the existing walls for the active congegration, and a new flat built under each corner tower. Behind the church lies St George's Gardens, the original cemetery, which was passed to Stepney Council to maintain as a public park in mid-Victorian times. (Wikidpedia)
There have been some delays in the arrivals of new films recently so you will have to watch this space for an update on what’s coming next.

Compendium CDs 1-4 Special Offer
You can save a lot of money by buying all 4 of our Compendium CDs, which cover volumes 1-50 of our parish register transcriptions, in one go. These are particularly useful if you are searching for more than one person, doing a one name study or are looking for a name that has a lot of spelling variants that you are probably not going to find via an online searchable database.
The complete set is on offer this month only for £99.99, that’s £40 off our last offer price! We don’t have many of these available and will only put this reduced price on the site at the same time as this newsletter goes out, for a limited period.
Click here for Compendiums 1-4 Special offer:

Book Reviews:

Memories of Wapping 1900-1960 by G P Martha Leigh

Wapping, once a vital part of the Port of London, has undergone many changes since the Second World War. Slum clearance, the closure of the docks and redevelopment has irrevocably altered the landscape of the area. This volume, combining the memories of over thirty people of Wapping during the earlier part of the twentieth century with a painstakingly researched historical narrative of the area, provides an important legacy of an age which has now vanished and a community which has changed forever.

Illustrated with around sixty archive images and covering a wide variety of topics from work to leisure, school, church, health, housing and Wapping at war, this book contains many lively characters and heart-warming stories. It will amuse and sadden in equal measures, remembering the hard times as well as the good, and is a must-have for anyone interested in British social history in the period before the Second World War.

Dockers enjoyed their own unique culture, language and way of looking at life. This was known as “dockology”. There were terms to describe situations peculiar to dock work; loading a ship was referred to as being “in the slave”, a “top Johnny in a side” was the leader of the gang, a young newcomer was called “a jazzer” and “a greenacre” was a load falling from a crane and breaking free in all direction. Dockers went in for nicknames!

There were five schools in Wapping of which three, St Peter’s, St Patrick’s and St John’s Charity School, were church school. Hermitage and Brewhouse Lane Elementary Schools were run by the local authority. A few children attended school outside Wapping, such as the prestigious Raine’s in Stepney. Naturally enough, in the church schools, religion was a large part of a child’s life.

The book includes some of the people’s testimonies where it is relevant and covers a broad spectrum of themes; Wapping and its people, housing, the family, men and work, making ends meet….. Tom reflected on the strains on his mother, and how she had ‘suffered with her nerves’, ‘course she had a hard life bringing up bloody nine kids of her own!

To buy the book click here:

Published by History Press ISBN number: 9780752447094
I was recently browsing one of our CDs and in the occupations column I noticed lots of jobs I had never heard of, like carman, sawyer, fringe weaver and stevedoor (which James probably knew) By coincidence, and I swear it was a coincidence, Yvonne placed a book in my hand the next time I was in the shed and said, “What do you think of this?” It is called, ‘A Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations’ by Colin Waters. So I went back to the CD with book in hand and before long discovered that a carman was a man in charge of a cart, a sawyer was a woodshed worker, a fringe weaver was a cloth maker who would take shawls home at night to twist tassels on for extra pay, and a stevedoor was a dock worker.
The book is basically what it says on the tin; a dictionary of nearly 4000 old trades, titles and occupations with over 70 illustrations.
Published by Countryside books, ISBN:1-85306-794-6 If you’d like to buy this for £12.99 just click here.

One grey, soggy Sunday afternoon recently there was no sport on the television (I don’t have Sky or that other lot who won’t let me see England away games), unless you count horse racing, so I roamed the net in a quest for interesting sites on the East End. After a while I found this one which I found fascinating, it tells you all about crime and punishment in the 1800s. I've just selected a couple of snippets from the site.

The Old Bailey Proceedings Online

Burned at the Stake
Women found guilty of either treason or petty treason were sentenced to be burned alive at the stake, though merciful executioners usually strangled women with a cord before lighting the fire. Burning at the stake was abolished in 1790.
Drawn and Quartered
Men found guilty of treason were sentenced to be drawn to the place of execution on a hurdle, hanged, cut down while still alive, and then disembowelled, castrated, beheaded and quartered. It was alleged that merciful executioners allowed men to die on the gallows before being dismembered. This punishment was rare during our period, but occasionally those convicted of coining and petty treason were sentenced to be drawn on a hurdle only, but not quartered.
I was just thinking about equal opportunities here, are the men getting a worse deal here?
Hard Labour
Hard labour was meant to contribute to the reformation of offenders by teaching them to be industrious, but the punishment was also meant to deter others from committing crime. Prisoners in houses of correction were typically set to beating hemp; those imprisoned sometimes worked a water pump; while men incarcerated in the hulks worked on dredging the Thames or in the naval dockyards. Others were sentenced to work on ballast lighters.
Offenders (mostly those convicted of petty larceny) were sentenced to be stripped to the waist and flogged "at a cart's tail" along a length of public street, usually near the scene of the crime, "until his [or her] back be bloody".
In the same vein, this article in Wikidpedia also took my interest!
Execution Dock
The "Execution Dock" was located on the Thames. It was used by the Admiralty for over 400 years (as late as 1830) to hang pirates that had been convicted and sentenced to death by the Admiralty court.
The Admiralty only had jurisdiction over crimes on the sea, so the dock was located within their jurisdiction by being located far enough offshore as to be beyond the low-tide mark. It was used to kill the notorious Captain Kidd.[9] Many prisoners would be executed together as a public event in front of a crowd of onlookers after being paraded from the Marshalsea Prison across London Bridge and past the Tower of London to the dock. Main article: Execution Dock

Upon further investigation of the site I found I was able to search their records of names of people who had appeared there. I typed in Legon, and guess what; I have two criminal ancestors! The first was William Legon (my other brother’s name) who was convicted of a minor misdemeanour, and the second was Susan Legon who was convicted of assault and sentenced to one month’s imprisonment even though the jury recommended mercy. Anyway, a useful weapon in our arsenal to find out more about our ancestors, don’t you think?.

I expect I am stating the obvious here, but I also found the IGI index really easy to use and came up with the births and marriages of lots of Legons. This is at:

The Poor Relief Act
The Poor Relief Act 1662 (13&14 Car. II c.12) was an Act of the Parliament of England. It was an Act for the Better Relief of the Poor of this Kingdom and is also known as the Settlement Act or, more honestly, the Settlement and Removal Act. The purpose of the Act was to establish the parish to which a person belonged (i.e. his/her place of "settlement"), and hence clarify which parish was responsible for him should he become in need of Poor Relief (or "chargeable" to the parish poor rates). Of particular note is that this was the first occasion when a document proving domicile became statutory: these were called Settlement Certificates.
After 1662, if a man left his settled parish to move elsewhere, he had to take his Settlement Certificate, which guaranteed that his home parish would pay for his "removal" costs (from the host parish) back to his home if he needed welfare. As parishes were often unwilling to issue such certificates people often stayed where they were - knowing that in an emergency that they would be entitled to their parish's poor rate. The Settlement Laws benefited the owners of large estates who controlled housing. Some land owners demolished empty housing in order to reduce the population of their lands and prevent people from returning. It was also common to recruit labourers from neighbouring parishes so that they could easily be sacked. Magistrates could order parishes to grant poor relief. However often the magistrates were landowners and therefore unlikely to make relief orders that would encase poor rates. The Settlement Act was repealed in 1834 (under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 which introduced the Union Workhouse), though not fully repealed until 1948.
In an article in Woman & Home (don’t ask!) it says that you can access these details for free at but I logged on and maybe I’m a bit dim but I couldn’t seem to do this for gratis. If you have better luck please let me know!
Tower Hamlets Local Studies Library is threatened with closure.
If you click on the link below you will see an article on the possible closure or relocation of the library which will be of interest to anyone interested in the history of the East End. Unfortunately the article is a little old now but I assume the issue is still ‘live’.

Research Services

Finally, we like to be helpful.
We regularly visit archives with information relevant to those with ancestors from the docklands area (Guildhall Library, the London Metropolitan Archives, the PRO in Kew, and local family history centres in Hackney, Westminster, Tower Hamlets etc.). We have even been known to hack our way (with a machete) round the odd cemetery!
So if you’ve
•identified a transcription (Parish baptism, marriage, burial, Livery company record etc) and want a hard copy for checking or to add to your records
•found a possible resource that’s not on the Internet that you want investigated
•hit a brick wall in your researches
then do email Esme at

For research services, we charge £16 per hour and payment can be made either through our web site (by credit or debit card) or by mailing a sterling cheque direct to Esme.

Ramblings from the council estate

Rambling from the council estate hasn’t got the same ring as ramblings from the shed, has it? Anyway this is where I live and it’s pretty close to the subject of our website, Docklands. I could say it’s a stones throw from trendy Hoxton, or the bustling city, or up-market Islington but basically it’s in a kind of Bermuda triangle with Bethnal Green over the road, Hoxton behind us and Hackney up the road. It’s handy for me though as I can walk to the two primary schools I work in, and it’s handy for my better half as she works just the other side of Southwark Bridge.
As I remember James mentioned that I was head teacher, although I’m not sure if he then told you I’m not anymore. It’s a long story which will probably bore you so I’ll skip all that. I’m now ‘just’ a teacher, not even a class teacher, but I teach one or two kids at a time who need a bit of an extra ‘push’ in order to get their level 4 in the dreaded SATs. It appears that if they don’t make the grade by 11 they’re doomed as Fraser would say in dad’s army in his Scottish accent. If I say so myself I’m pretty good at it and ‘my’ kids seem to make good progress. On top of this I don’t have piles of paperwork to do when I get home, and I’m normally home by 4! So weighing it up I reckon I’m much better off now, not financially of course, but I have a life, unlike when I was a head. Being back in touch with the kids and not entombed in an office is another major plus; nearly every day has interactions with the kids that bring a smile to my face. The other day I was covering for a teacher for a bit and needed to keep the Y4 sprogs ‘entertained’. So I got them all quiet, dead quiet; all I have to do is stare at a couple and it does the trick! Then I recounted how when I was at school I was in the playground when a little voice started speaking to me from inside the hedge. I peered in and there was a little man about 3 inches tall! At this point you’d have thought they would say ‘no way man’ but no, still silence. So I carried on; I picked him up and put him in my pocket and took him into the next lesson. Now my teacher was strict, and I was always in trouble, you know what I mean boys. So when my little friend kept speaking to me the teacher whirled around and asked who was speaking, staring at me with his beady eyes. Still no reaction from the kids, I kid you not! Damn the little man (I didn’t use damn, it’s a church of England school) he kept talking and the teacher lost his temper with me, ME, and for once I hadn’t done nothing, know what I mean boys? At last, at this point, one child piped up, ‘this didn’t happen really did it?’ No, I replied ‘course not’ and they all groaned. But I had ‘em fooled for a good 10 minutes, priceless!
I’ll sign off with a joke, not sure why, but for once I’ve remembered one I was told, so here you are: Why did the man with one hand cross the road? Answer; to get to the second hand shop.

ParishRegister CDs
My Ancestors were Thames Watermen written by James Legon:

Example: This gadget is sure to please your favorite gardener...

click here

Kind regards

Jonathan and the Docklands Ancestors team


-A Passion For Family History-

© Docklands Ancestors Ltd.