Parish Register Newsletter: December 2008

Dear Subscriber

Hello and welcome to the December newsletter. First of all I would like to thank all those who sent in feedback on my first ever newsletter. Thankfully it was all very positive and encouraging, what a relief! So now a different pressure is on; to maintain the standard I have set myself and obviously to improve, so here goes.

Online Searchable Databases
Recently completed and uploaded are:

St Anne, Limehouse Baptism registers 1854-1877 (12001 entries)

St Dunstan, Stepney Baptism Registers 1835-1837 (3288 entries)

To search the website please click here:

Now underway:

St Dunstan Stepney 1837-1848

All Saints Poplar 1802-1812

Want to know more about St Anne’s? Then read on:
St Anne's, Limehouse is one of several East End of churches created by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who was Sir Christopher Wren's most talented pupil. The splendid Baroque church, probably Hawksmoor's most dramatic creation, was built between 1714 - 1725 in what were then open fields. The immense size of the church is a reflection on the importance of Limehouse. Its great tower soon became a landmark for ships using the East End docks. The clock tower is the second highest in Britain after Big Ben and was built by the same makers. In 1850 the church was seriously damaged by fire. Whilst the building was being restored the interior was 'Victorianized' by the architect Philip Hardwick. The finest and least altered Victoria organ built for the church by Grey and Davison won the organ medal in the Great Exhibition of 1851. St. Anne’s suffered little during World War II although the surrounding area was enormously affected. Through the 80s and 90s the church benefited from exterior renovation and landscaping. The interior phase of the restoration programme has begun and visitors can compare a Victorian restoration with a present day restoration along the lines of Hawksmoor’s original design.
Extract from Tour UK (

New CDs on sale now:

Vol 59 Christ Church Stepney Baptism Registers 1842-1860 (4791 entries)

Vol 60 All Saints Mile End Baptism Registers 1840-1880 (3175 entries)

To purchase these latest additions click here:

We are awaiting delivery of more films from the LMA so I’ll let you know in the next newsletter what’s coming next.

News of a new project

Soon after James died I was in the shed and came across a film in the fiche reader. ‘What’s this?’ I asked Yvonne. ‘Oh a little project James started working on recently’, she replied, or words to that effect. On further inspection it turned out to be the apprenticeship bindings of The Merchant Taylor company, one of the “Great Twelve” Livery Companies of the city London. I thought well if James was doing it, it must be worth continuing, so I, no sorry, Yvonne popped it in the post to Jim, our transcriber in Canada. Once he received it he e-mailed back saying it’s a whopping 36000 entries! This covers the period from 1520 to 1929. If this isn’t another useful source for finding some of our ancestors, then I’m a one legged Scotsman! Anyway he’s making good progress on this and he reckons he’ll complete it sometime around March. I wonder if he sleeps! Now I’m finding out everything I can on the Merchant Taylors. If you want to do the same check out this site:

Compendium CDs 1-4 Special Offer
I noticed that many of you took advantage of our special offer on compendiums 1-4 (£99.99). We only had a limited number available at this price and there are only a few left, so if you were thinking of buying one, then don’t procrastinate too much longer as it will be too late!

In case you haven’t visited the shop recently I thought I might remind you of the Watermen and Lightermen CDs we have for sale:

1628 Admiralty Muster of Watermen
James transcribed this document from the National Archives in Kew. On the searchable CD-Rom, there are some 2,393 names of Watermen. Information recorded is forename, surname, age in 1628/9, number of voyages made, location and notes (such as trumpeter, gunner, boatswain).
The earliest Company record is dated 1692, so this is a wonderful resource for possibly pushing your history further back in time.

1648 Petition for the King
This document, from the House of Lords, records the names of 2,026 watermen from the last year of the reign of Charles I. It was instigated by the Royal Bargemasters, Nowell Warner and Robert Bursey, and written by the clerk to the Company, Thomas Lowe.
The Petition is the vital link between the earlier 1628 Admiralty Muster and the beginnings of the Company's records in 1692.
Also included on the CD are an index to the names, commentary & analysis by James and image samples of the original 350 year old scroll together with a 1673 list of Watermen in the Tower of London.

Apprenticeship Bindings 1908-1925
Company of Watermen & Lightermen Apprenticeship Bindings Index 1908-1925.

This is the follow up CD to Rob's earlier 1692-1908. It is info made available directly by Waterman's Hall and is not available at the Guildhall Library. £4.95
Apprenticeship Bindings 1925-1949

Indexed from the original register at Waterman's Hall, these records take the total coverage of the apprenticeship bindings from 1692 to 1949.
There were 3505 apprentices bound between 1925 and 1949. A typical entry reads as follows:
with the first name being the apprentice and the latter his master. The first date is the binding date, the second the freedom date. £4.95
Company of Watermen Compilation CD 1

This CD comprises the following titles:

1.Company of Watermen & Lightermen Apprenticeship Bindings Indexes 1692-1949
2.Register of licences granted by Corporation of Trinity House to ex-mariners to ply their trade as watermen working on the River Thames 1829-1864
3. Thames Watermen & Lightermen (also wives and widows) pensioners admitted for relief 1794-1837
4. Watermen & Lightermen reassigned to another master during their apprenticeship period 1688-1908
Price if bought separately: £57.80 Our price £39.95
Saving: £17.85

You can purchase any of these by visiting:

Book Reviews:

London's East End: Life & Traditions (Paperback)
Author: Jane Cox Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN 978-0297832928 Price: £65 (another hard to find book)
The East End embraces many distinct areas. From the riverside and docks where pirates were hanged and Captain Cook married a barmaid, to Shoreditch where Romeo and Juliet was first performed, this book introduces readers to the "lost villages" of the East End of London, once dotted with windmills and a "transit camp" since the time of Henry VIII. A tapestry of history forms the backdrop to life and tradition here as we discover the "sewer rats" who lived by salvaging coins, the fairs and food, factories and gaols, beggars and kings, hop-picking excursions and many fascinating stories that have emerged from this notorious quarter.

Chapters include:
1. The Early Days, Celtic twilight to the Middle Ages
2. Stepney, The church & village at the heart of it all
3. Along the Road to the West, Aldgate & Whitechapel
4. East of the Tower, St Katherines & East Smithfield
5. Shoreditch, in company with Shakespeare
6. Wapping, Shadwell, Ratcliff & Limehouse, the riverside hamlets
7. Mile End, Bow & Bromley, the commuter belt
8. Poplar & the Isle of Dogs, from cattle pasture to Canary Wharf
9. The Transit Camp, a world of strangers
10. Slums & Deprivation
11. More Friendly than it is Now, the East End remembered

**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. (James’s quote)
To buy this book click here:'s%20east%20end&Page=1&RecsPerPage=10&ID=3213

The East End (Four Centuries of London Life)
Hard back Author: Alan Palmer Published by John Murray ISBN 978-0719546761 This book is extremely hard to get your hands on, hence the price: £49.99

This book spans four centuries of life, work, conflict and humour in this tough area of London. The East End’s history is linked inextricably with the most complex docklands of any industrial society, serving what was also a great trading nation and an imperial power. People, as well as goods, flowed in, Protestant Huguenots from France in the seventeenth century, Irish labourers fleeing the potato famine, Jews escaping Russian pogroms, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. The story of Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green, Poplar, Hackney and Stepney sifts reality from legend in an area notorious for violent crime, political demonstrations and hardship. I have not yet read the whole book, but the chapter of my choice was the one on the coming of the docks and railways which I found extremely interesting, particularly as I know a lot about the geography of the area (from my days as a courier). There are also a number of maps and photographs dotted around the books. One that took my eye was one of Christ Church, Spitalfields, Hawksmoor’s masterpiece, because it was one of the churches James asked me to photograph for him last year, and I took mine from virtually the same spot this photograph was taken from.

To buy this book click here:

London’s Thames
Author: Gavin Weightman Publisher: John Murray ISBN 0-7195-6411-5 Price: £19.99 (Hardback)
Without the Thames there would be no London. From earliest times, the river supplied the city's needs, as the fierce tides brought ships upstream and carried them down again. Gavin Weightman's book is an introduction to the water and its ways, the buildings that line the banks, and the people who lived by the river, their customs and ancient knowledge. Everything is to be found here: trade and tide, lightermen, watermen and dockers, bridges, funnels and ferries, frost airs and regattas, clear water, fish and wildlife, pollution and waste, fortification and defence. Above all, one feels the presence of the great waterway itself - a force of nature in an urban midst.

To buy this book click here:'s%20thames&Page=1&RecsPerPage=10&ID=2522

London in the 19th Century
Fiction Author: Jerry White 624 pages Publisher: Vintage Books ISBN 978-0-712-60030-9 Price: £10.99
Jerry White, who also wrote his oral history, Rothchild building: Life in an east end tenement block 1880-1920, shows how London changed from a city which, in 1800 had more in common with 1600, to, basically, the city we know today. He looks at the physical changes in London in its roads and urban expansion. Then he looks at the daily lives of Londoners, their work and culture and, finally, at the role of law and order, religion and civic improvement. He shows how frequently improvement was delayed by pettiness and how, in the end, the tremendous changes did relatively little to help the poorest of the poor. The book is split into five parts; the city, people, work, culture and law and order, and is 477 (not including notes, bibliography and index) pages long, which should be a welcome distraction over the long festive season!

To buy this book click here:

Family and Kinship in East London
Published by Penguin Classics Author: Michael Young and Peter Willmott ISBN 978-01411 89123 Price: £9.99
First published in 1957, this vivid and touching picture of family life in the East End of the 1950s is one of the great pioneering works of modern sociology.
Bumping into life-long friends in the high streets; bribing the rent collectors to get recently vacated houses for relatives; children playing in the roads throughout the warm summer’s evenings; the parties organized by the people who lived in the same places for fifty yeas; are just some of the scenes evoked by this ground-breaking study. The book encapsulates the strength and intimacy of East End Family ties.
‘The first formal visit is less of an ordeal for the man who already has family connexions with his future wife. “We lived here when we were children,” said Mrs Sykes, ”That’s how we met. Our families knew each other. My mother knew his mother when they was girls, even before they were married. The family grew up together.”
Father-son succession
This system probably used to result in many more sons following their father than do so today. We do not know; we can only surmise. It is not new for sons of dockers to follow their fathers. Since it does not actually border the river, Bethnal green is not a dockland community, but many local men have been employed in docks all the same. It is a matter of pride to belong to a docker’s family. Mr Sanderman related that his father was a docker, his father’s brothers, and his grand-father, an old man of seventy who is still working regularly. “He’s always laughing. He’s got a fringe, a short haircut like they used to have in the old-fashioned days. He’s a very jolly man.” Mr Sanderman got himself a job as a docker as soon as possible after he was demobilized.

To buy this book click here:

Poplar Memories
Author: John Hector Publisher: Sutton Publishing ISBN 075092906 Price: £14.99
Poplar Memories is a vivid impression of Cockney London before and during the Second World War, set in a teeming, rundown docklands neighbourhood famous for being, well, one end of the Blackwall Tunnel. John Hector's spellbinding account of his early life in the 1920s and 30s conjures up a vanished era when simplicity and happiness went hand-in-hand. Halcyon days of 'talking pictures and pavement buskers, Saturday night knees-ups round the piano, eel and pie stalls, chimneysweeps, 'boxers', Clarnico's toffees and Lloyd Loom furniture, and a little shop called Woolworth's selling 'nothing over sixpence'- unless it's a shilling. All this was to disappear forever in the horrors of the Blitz. The author, now 85, was disabled by infantile paralysis-yet he became School Captain and embarked on a successful career at 14, surviving extreme poverty, panel doctors, dockers' riots and Hitler's Luftwaffe with an unshakeable belief in the ordinary people of Poplar.

To buy this book click here:

Useful Websites

During one of my meanders through ‘Google World’ recently I found another interesting site about The Portuguese community in London. ‘Well I never knew there was such a thing’, I thought to myself, and investigated further. (At the moment I’m particularly interested in Portugal because I’m buying an apartment on the Silver Coast which will be finished next summer, so if you’re after a cheap holiday……) Anyway back to the site; I found out that they built a mission in Virginia Street (just round the corner from where I live) which was part of a hospital for foreign sailors which would have included Portuguese. The building, incidentally, was destroyed in 1780 during the Gordon riots. Also Our Lady of the Sea church was opened in 1793 on Crooms Hill, Greenwich, which was built to cater for Catholic seamen from the Dreadnought Royal Hospital and this too would have had Portuguese sailors worshiping there.

Another site, relevant to me and my ancestors was this one:

The whole site gives information on ports all over the world but the link here takes you straight to London. Here you can find out about maritime London; the early port, Tudor and Stuart port and the 18th, 19th and 20th century port. Another sections I found fascinating as it is about the people and places; the port communities, crime and punishment (that came up a lot in my last newsletter, am I bit morbid I wonder?), leisure, health and housing, and Thames art, literature and architecture. There is also a great section on The Working Thames; London’s docks and shipping, trade and industry.

For those of you from the colonies I think you might find the section The English penal system and transportation to the colonies particularly interesting. Here is a small extract from near the beginning:
A new plan was announced in January 1787 when the government decided to transport convicts to New South Wales in Australia.
On 22 January 1788 the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay to set up a prison colony. There were more than 1500 people, including 548 male and 188 female convicts. They actually settled in Sydney Cove, not Botany Bay. Over the years about 160,000 men, women and children were sent to Australia.
The First Fleet
The 11 ships of the First Fleet, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip RN, had left Portsmouth in May 1787. On board the ships were several convicts from London, one of whom was 21-year-old Mary Springham.
In October 1786 Mary had been found guilty at the Old Bailey of stealing two guineas, nine shillings (about £186 at today's prices) and a snuffbox. She was sentenced to seven years transportation.
In January 1787 all the female convicts in Newgate under sentence of transportation were sent to the 333-ton Lady Penrhyn (1786) on the Thames.

One final site that you may find interesting is which contains passenger lists of ships that travelled to and from many ports all over the world, some dating back four hundred years. The first ship on the list is the Mayflower which sailed to America in 1620, I believe. You can simply look at the passenger list but if you click on the link that takes you to a great site on the history of the Mayflower and its crew. Once again, you may well know about this site, so please forgive me if…

I did say in my last newsletter that there are so many sites of interest that I, or anyone, could never hope to find every one that is of relevance to genealogy, and that I would welcome you, the subscriber, to recommend any. Well, Helen e-mailed and told me that many of her descendants were gunmakers and she found Stan Cook’s Gunmakers and Allied Trades Index website extremely useful. Stan Cook established the Gunmakers & Allied Trades Index in 1982. As of April 2004 over 9000 surnames were listed, covering a total of at least 25,000 individual workers. Here is the link for this site:
Thanks Helen!
P.S I used to live next to the Gunmaker’s Arms, but that was in Loughton, Essex, I wonder if there was a gunmaker’s there once upon a time.

Susan also e-mailed me to tell me something most interesting about the Proceedings of the Old Bailey online site. She, like me, put one of her ancestor’s surname in and found out about the trial of Mrs Mary Ridding around 1819 who kidnapped a baby, one Benjamin Schrier aged about 14 months. Another Schrier was a witness in the trial and he was Susan’s great, great grandfather and other members of his family were also named in the records, so she was able to glean lots more information on her family from this site. Thank you Susan.

Correction: I recently received an e-mail from Clifford Evans, youngest grandchild of Herbert Lionel Evans. He told me that in a previous newletter in which James posted an article on river postmen, that we had listed a picture of George Thomas Evans (his great grandfather) and that we had his grandfather’s name wrong; his name is Herbert Lionel Evans and we had written Lionel Herbert..

East of London Family History Fair

Event will take place at Eastbury Manor School, Wilmington Gardens Entrance, Barking Essex, IG11 9TR on Saturday 17th January 2009.

Doors open 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Entrance £2-Under 16 Free
Disabled access

150 plus tables

Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup will be attending with a large selection of photographs of staff (and the factory as it progressed).
Will also have a selection of artefacts of Golden Syrup tins, old advert placards etc.

Newham Community Heritage exhibition of 'East End Working Lives'. Hundreds of recordings of people speaking about their work in the East End.

Also attending will be the S.O.G, L.M.A., Guildhall, Nottingham FHS, Essex FHS, Somerset and Dorset to name a few.
Many local history societies will have excellent displays of photos and memorabilia from their area.

Watermen's Hall
Watermen's Hall is not a public building and it can be pretty hard to get inside.
However, I've just had a flyer telling me that tours will take place at 10am, 12 noon & 2pm on Sat 24 January 09.
Email the assistant clerk (Carol Ratcliffe) for more info;

Interview of a Lighterman

Jim Stacey

My family dates back on the river Thames as Lightermen for several hundred years. You could only be a Lighterman if your father or uncle were, it had to be within the family. Boys were apprenticed at 14, for 7 years until 21. They were bound apprenticed to their fathers.

When I left school at 16 my father was determined that I should not become a lighterman - it was a hard tough job, and he thought I should get a job elsewhere - but I wanted to continue the family tradition. I served a five year apprenticeship, which meant I didn’t become a freeman until I was 22, I was then bound to my father and then served two years in the company of a freeman or a qualified lighterman. You have to be with them at all times to learn of the dangers of the Thames, the tides the currents…
To see the rest of this interview please click here:
(if this does not work please copy and paste it into your browser)

Ramblings from the council estate

As I mentioned last month I am a teacher and I thought I would just share one little incident that happened a couple of weeks ago. I was seriously discussing a ten year old’s writing with her when I asked her who had written her targets in her book as it is normally me who does this. She said she had and I had given her permission to, surely I hadn’t forgotten as it was only last week. Then, quite out of the blue she added, ‘Are you going through the male menopause?’ ‘You can’t say that!’ I replied, to which she added, ‘I just did.’ Luckily I have a sense of humour, and she knows it, but can you imagine a child saying that 20/30 years ago? Now I’m wondering if it does exist and whether I am going through it!

The other week I went swimming, which I haven’t done for a long, long time. I had a good time, especially going down that great big curly slide thing, although I did look like the odd one out from all the little kids standing in the queue with me. The pool is local so I also got a couple of children calling out ‘hi sir’. Anyway what struck me as I entered was how health and safety has changed since I went swimming all those years ago. Here is a brief summary of all the things you can, or can’t do; You can’t swim if you have eaten in the last 2 hours (how can they check for that, eh?), you can’t wear jewellery, you can’t have more than three non-swimmers for every competent swimmer, you can’t take photographs, you mustn’t dive in, mustn’t run, mustn’t scream and shout, must wear your band that says you have paid, must shower before entering the pool, and there were more but I’ve forgotten them. Then, once I had got changed into my cossie, I put the 20p (non-refundable) in the locker and nothing happened. So, I put another in and still nothing happened! So, I looked for a lifeguard to rescue my 40p and he told me I had to go to reception. So I walked all the way to the reception desk, still in my cossie, only to be asked to fill in a form to get my money back! First question? Locker number, how would I know, so back to the locker, memorise number and back to the form filling. Once I filled this in and had given name, address, telephone number and been finger printed I got my money back and found a locker that worked. Since then I’ve been swimming every week, but guess what, I couldn’t face all that again and now I go to a bog standard pool which sadly hasn’t got the big curly slide!

Writing the newsletter this last week or so has been a little harder than last month; writer’s block you may think, Christmas dominating my mind maybe, no it’s because I’ve got a great big bandage around my typing finger! (Yes, I only type with one finger!)So, how did this happen you ask. Well, if James was looking down on me when it happened he would have given me a right telling off. Last Tuesday I was mowing a lawn, and because it was freezing cold and I really couldn’t be bothered I was doing it backward! Sounds odd, I know, but there was method to my madness. Normally you mow up, turn around, then mow down etc, well I couldn’t be bothered to turn around, so I mowed up, then walked backwards to mow down. All was fine until I got to the end and tripped over a rock. Down I went and flung my hand behind me to break my fall. I got up quickly, hoping no-one would have seen my fall from grace, and carried on ‘as normal’. However when I looked down I saw splodges of red on the mower, on the grass and on my muddy trainers (I know, I should wear boots for gardening). Then I noticed it was coming from my typing digit. So there you are, if I did what my other half keeps telling me to do; wear gloves, then this would never have happened, but will I learn…..

I was walking to Liverpool Street last Saturday, shopping list in hand, when a situation arose that showed a welcome, positive side to human nature presented itself to me. There was a man clinging to the railings in the middle of the road, and one could be forgiven for thinking he was a bit blotto, even though it was the middle of the morning (this is not uncommon around here). However, no-one walked on by! A man on a motorbike stopped and got there first, I crossed over and had a look at him. He clearly wasn’t drunk, and another lady immediately phoned an ambulance. Within 30 seconds a motorbike paramedic was there and established he was epileptic. A few minutes later a passing police car stopped to investigate and an ambulance pulled up to take him away. An amusing postscript to this was that the police found out when looking through his belongings that he was a bus driver! I’d love to know what bus he drives!

How about a few jokes to finish?

An old couple is on a walk, when a pigeon flies by and relieves himself on the woman's head.
"Yech!" says the woman. "Get some toilet paper."
"What for? He must be half-a-mile away by now," replied the man.

A guy says, "Doctor, Doctor! Help me, I keep thinking I'm getting smaller!"
Doctor replies, "Well, you'll just have to be a little patient."

A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying, "Everyone who thinks you're stupid, stand up!"
After a few seconds, Little Johnny stood up. The teacher said, "Do you think you're stupid, Little Johnny?"
"No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!"

Oh yes, one last thing

Happy Christmas! from all the team!

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


-A Passion For Family History-

© Docklands Ancestors Ltd.