Tracing Your East End Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 256 pages
Author: J. Cox
Year: 2011
ISBN: 9781848841604
Other: b&w photos, appendixes, bibliog, index
Publisher: Pen & Sword

East Enders are a very special breed and tracing your East End ancestry is going to be tremendous fun. Everyone has got some East End ancestors (and if they haven'’t they invent them), rollicking chaps, larky and resourceful, talking a funny language to keep ‘them’ guessing, eating at eel and pie shops, shouting out their wares in clattering, colourful markets.

Their wives and masters (‘‘er indoors’) are brazen lassies, smart as paint, tough as their men folk, presiding over an undoubted matriarchal society were Mum rules OK? The good tales are of bright little kids, unshod and street-wise, riding above their origins and making a mint. The bad ones are of indescribable horror children dying in diseased heaps, infant sex for sale and gangs of armed bandits terrorising the neighbourhood.

As author Jan Cox writes in the preface, the East End of our great grandparents’ days was another world, and her fascinating and accessible guide to East End ancestry will help you find out about it. She takes readers through the maze of courts and alleys that were the home of their ancestors, bringing to life that vibrant, polyglot society, and describing the many sources researchers can consult - archives, records, books, the internet– in order to trace the lives of individuals who lived in the area or passed through it.

Introduction: London's East End, a Place of Coming and Going
1. Our Ancestors in Context: A Summary History of Tower Hamlets
- Was it always a poor, deprived area?
- The Middle Ages
- Tudor times: Sea dogs and the 'Country East Enders'
- Puritans, sailors and French weavers 1600-1700
- Jack Tar, silk weavers and nabobs 1700-1800
- Dock hands and manufacturers 1800-1850
- 'The people of the Abyss' 1850-1900
- 'A great family party' from 1900
2. Research
- Archives
- Websites
- Assistance
- Understanding the records
3. The Prime Sources
- General Register Office (GRO 1837-present
- Census
- Parish registers
4. Other Major Sources
- Wills and probate
- Deathy dity records
- Cemetrey records and monumental inscriptions
- School records
- Directories and voters' lists
- Hospital records
- Parish magazines
- Local newspapers
- Rate books
- Land tax records
- Apprenticeship records
- Livery Company records and links with the City
- Some 17th Century census-type records
- Manor Court Rolls
5. Records of Groups
- Nonconformists
- Quakers
- Paupers and orphans
- Charities for the poor
- Immigrants
- Irish/Roman Catholics
- Scots and Welsh
- Immigrants from Abroad
- Huguenots
- Jews
- Dutch
- Germans
- Emigrants
- Emigrants to North America and the West Indies
- Emigrants to Australia
- Criminals
- Notables
6. Occupational Groups
- Dockers
- Seamen
- Watermen and Lightermen
- Soldiers
- Policemen
- Ship builders
- Match Girls
- Clergy
- Prostitutes
- Railway workers
7. The Second World War - the Blitz
8. The Street/House They Lived In
9. Maps
Appendix 1. The Borough and Administrative Units
Appendix 2. Parish Registers
Appendix 3. Nonconformist Registers
Appendix 4. Marriage Vemnues for East Enders
Appendix 5. Summary List of Records at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
Appendix 6. Merdieval Ancestors - Some Sources
Appendix 7. Select Bibliography
Appendix 8. Organisations


"This is an excellent guide not just to the East End, but also to the vast majority of Londoners who were poor. A large proportion of family historians will come up with the need to research in London sooner or later, and while it is difficult, it is immensely easier than it used to be (especially from a distance) due to the proliferation of electronic resources. All the major and a range of minor sources are described accurately yet succinctly (as you would expect from a former archivist at The National Archives). Cox uses examples from her own research to show how records can be used in practise, not just to build a dry family tree of names, dates and places but also to help you to understand your East End ancestors to real people. Perhaps the best sections of the book are the appendices detailing parish and non-parochial records and resources of Tower Hamlets Local history Library, too often ignored by researchers. The range of records that are available online are also well-described, although inevitably there have been some changes even during the time that the book has taken to reach the shelves! The bibliography is slightly odd, in that it includes some sources that are far too little known, rather than mentioning some that are all too familiar. This will no doubt prove welcome to more experienced researchers, but may be somewhat less helpful to beginners. However, the work benefits from not only a detailed list of contents but a full index. Altogether, Tracing your East End Ancestors is a must for all genealogists researching family in this area of the country." - Who Do You Think You Are Magazine, July 2011

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