Place:Liberty of the Tower, London, England

NameLiberty of the Tower
Alt namesTower Liberty-Withoutsource: Family History Library Catalog
Coordinates51.509844°N 0.077569°W
Located inLondon, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inMiddlesex, England     ( - 1889)
See alsoSt. Botolph Without Aldgate, London, Englandparish to which it was joined in 1905
Stepney (metropolitan borough), London, Englandmetropolitan borough of which it became part in 1900
Tower Hamlets (London Borough), Greater London, EnglandLondon borough in which it has been located since 1965
source: Family History Library Catalog

The map is based on one in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11, Stepney, Bethnal Green from the Victoria County History Series provided by British History Online.

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

The Liberty of the Tower, or the Tower Liberty, was a liberty around and including the Tower of London. It was outside the jurisdiction of the City of London and the County of Middlesex, with its own county government. The area of the liberty expanded in 1686. It became part of the County of London in 1889, but was abolished in 1905, when it became part of the parish of St. Botolph without Aldgate. In turn, the parts of St Botolph without Aldgate outside the City became part of Stepney Metropolitan Borough in 1900. The metropolitan borough was abolished in 1965 and became part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.


The liberty as set out in the 16th century consisted of the area inside the walls of the Tower of London (also known as Tower Within) and immediately outside it (known as Old Tower Without).

In 1686 letters patent granted by James II added the Old Artillery Ground, Little Minories and the Liberty of Wellclose. These areas came into the possession of the crown when the religious houses that formerly administered them were dissolved. They had subsequently been used for the storing of ordnance.

The population of the Liberties was 3,995 in 1811 and 4,190 in 1831.

From 1837 the liberty formed part of the Whitechapel Poor Law Union. Extra-parochial places were progressively eliminated and following the Extra-Parochial Places Act 1857, the Tower of London and Old Tower Without became civil parishes in 1858. The Old Artillery Ground became a civil parish in 1866, following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1866.

From 1855 the area became part of the Whitechapel District and was administered by the Whitechapel District Board of Works. The liberty became part of the County of London in 1889 and the area of the former liberty was included in the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney in 1900. The area of the former liberty now forms part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and following boundary changes around the Minories in 1994 is partly in the City of London.

Greater London Research Tips

  • See under "London" and also under "Middlesex", "Surrey" and "Kent" for key information about Greater London's jurisdictions and records, plus links to indexes, reference aids and Family History Library holdings.
  • The London Metropolitan Archives (40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB) holds records relating to the whole of Greater London. Ancestry (subscription necessary) has produced transcriptions and provides images of lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials in churches across Greater London. These lists start in 1813 and stretch into the 20th century.
  • GENUKI has a long list of websites and archive holders in addition to London Metropolitan Archives above. (The list from GENUKI is not maintained so well that there is never a dead link in it. However, it is often worth googling the title given on the page just in case the contributor has reorganized their website.)
  • GENUKI also has a list of the Archives and Local Studies Libraries for each of the boroughs of Greater London.
  • The London Encyclopaedia by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. An e-book available online through Google, originally published by Pan Macmillan. There is a search box in the left-hand pane.
  • London Lives. A very useful free website for anyone researching their London ancestors between the years 1690-1800. This is a fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to 3.35 million names.
  • London Ancestor, a website belonging to one of the London family history societies, has a list of transcriptions of directories from the 18th century, listing in one case "all the squares, streets, lanes, courts, yards, alleys, &C. in and about Five Miles of the Metropolis..." In other parts of the same website are maps of various parts of 19th century London and Middlesex.
  • The proceedings of the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court, 1674-1913. A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. This website is free to use.
  • Registration Districts in London, Registration Districts in Middlesex, Registration Districts in Surrey, Registration Districts in Kent, are lists of the registration districts used for civil registration (births, marriages and deaths, as well as the censuses). There are linked supporting lists of the parishes which made up each registration district, the dates of formation and abolition of the districts, the General Register Office numbers, and the local archive-holding place. This work has been carried out by Brett Langston under the agency of GENUKI (Genealogy United Kingdom and Ireland) and UKBMD - Births, Marriages, Deaths & Censuses on the Internet.
  • A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11, Stepney, Bethnal Green from the Victoria County History Series provided by British History Online.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at The Liberties of the Tower. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.