- source: Family History Library Catalog
Shoreditch, or Shoreditch St. Leonard, was one of the ancient parishes of Middlesex, England. In 1889 it was transferred to the newly-created County of London and in 1900 became Shoreditch Metropolitan Borough. The Borough was abolished in 1965, becoming part of the London Borough of Hackney.
- the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia
The Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch was a metropolitan borough of the County of London between 1899 and 1965, when it was merged with the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington and the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney to form the London Borough of Hackney.
Shoreditch is an Inner London area in the historic East End of London and modern Central London, lying immediately to the north of the City of London. The borough was made up of three main neighbourhoods: Shoreditch, Hoxton and Haggerston.
It also could be said to comprise the area of the ancient parish of Shoreditch (St Leonard's) plus part of the ancient liberty of Norton Folgate to the south. The parish vestry had charge of local administration from the 17th century onwards.
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
The etymology of "Shoreditch" is debated. One legend holds that the place was originally named "Shore's Ditch", after Jane Shore, the mistress of Edward IV, who is supposed to have died or been buried in a ditch in the area. This legend is commemorated today by a large painting, at Haggerston Branch Library, of Jane Shore being retrieved from the ditch, and by a design on glazed tiles in a shop in Shoreditch High Street showing her meeting Edward IV.
However, the area was known as "Soersditch" long before Jane Shore's life. A more plausible origin for the name is "Sewer Ditch", in reference to a drain or watercourse in what was once a boggy area. It may have referred to the headwaters of the river Walbrook, which rose in the Curtain Road area.
The medieval parish of Shoreditch (St Leonard's) was once part of the county of Middlesex but became part of the new County of London in 1889. The parish remained the local administrative unit until the creation of the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch in 1899. The Borough was made up of three districts – Shoreditch, Hoxton and Haggerston – and administered from Shoreditch Town Hall, which can still be seen on Old Street. It has been restored and is now run by the Shoreditch Town Hall Trust. Shoreditch was incorporated into the much larger London Borough of Hackney in 1965.
Though now part of Inner London, Shoreditch was previously an extramural suburb of the City of London, centred on Shoreditch Church at the crossroads where Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland Road are crossed by Old Street and Hackney Road.
Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland road are a small sector of the Roman Ermine Street and modern A10. Known also as the Old North Road, it was a major coaching route to the north, exiting the City at Bishopsgate. The east–west course of Old Street–Hackney Road was also probably originally a Roman Road, connecting Silchester with Colchester, bypassing the City of London to the south.
Shoreditch church (dedicated to St Leonard) is of ancient origin and features in the famous line "when I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch", from the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons.
Shoreditch was the site of a house of canonesses, the Augustinian Holywell Priory (named after a Holy Well on the site), from the 12th century until its dissolution in 1539. This priory was located between Shoreditch High Street and Curtain Road to east and west and Batemans Row and Holywell Lane to north and south. Nothing remains of it today.
In 1576 James Burbage built the first playhouse in England, known as "The Theatre", on the site of the Priory (commemorated today by a plaque on Curtain Road, and excavated in 2008, by MoLAS). Some of Shakespeare's plays were performed here and at the nearby Curtain Theatre, built the following year and to the south (marked by a commemorative plaque in Hewett Street off Curtain Road). It was here that Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet gained "Curtain plaudits" and where Henry V was performed within "this wooden O". In 1599 Shakespeare's Company literally upped sticks and moved the timbers of "The Theatre" to Southwark at expiration of the lease to construct The Globe. The Curtain continued performing plays in Shoreditch until at least 1627.
The suburb of Shoreditch was attractive as a location for these early theatres because it was outside the jurisdiction of the somewhat puritanical City fathers. Even so, they drew the wrath of contemporary moralists as did the local "base tenements and houses of unlawful and disorderly resort" and the "great number of dissolute, loose, and insolent people harboured in such and the like noisome and disorderly houses, as namely poor cottages, and habitations of beggars and people without trade, stables, inns, alehouses, taverns, garden-houses converted to dwellings, ordinaries, dicing houses, bowling alleys, and brothel houses".
During the 17th century, wealthy traders and Huguenot silk weavers moved to the area, establishing a textile industry centred to the south around Spitalfields. By the 19th century Shoreditch was also the locus of the furniture industry, now commemorated in the Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road. However the area declined along with both textile and furniture industries and by the end of the 19th century Shoreditch was a byword for crime, prostitution and poverty. This situation was not improved by extensive devastation of the housing stock in the Blitz during World War II and insensitive redevelopment in the post-war period.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries Shoreditch was a centre of entertainment to rival the West End and boasted many theatres and music halls:
- The National Standard Theatre, 2/3/4 Shoreditch High Street (1837–1940). In the late 19th century this was one of the largest theatres in London. In 1926 it was converted into a cinema called The New Olympia Picturedrome. The building was demolished in 1940. Sims Reeves, Mrs Marriott and James Anderson all appeared here; also performed were programmes of classical opera and even Shakespeare, with such luminaries as Henry Irving. There was considerable rivalry with the West End theatres. John Douglass (the owner, from 1845) wrote a letter to The Era following a Drury Lane first night, in which he commented that "seeing that a hansom cab is used in the new drama at Drury Lane, I beg to state that a hansom cab, drawn by a live horse was used in my drama ... produced at the Standard Theatre ... with real rain, a real flood, and a real balloon".
- The Shoreditch Empire aka The London Music Hall, 95–99 Shoreditch High Street (1856–1935). The theatre was rebuilt in 1894 by Frank Matcham. the architect of the Hackney Empire. Charlie Chaplin is recorded as performing here, in his early days, before he achieved fame in America.
- The Royal Cambridge Music Hall, 136 Commercial Street (1864–1936), was destroyed by fire in 1896, then rebuilt in 1897 by Finch Hill, architect of the Britannia Theatre, in nearby Hoxton. The Builder of 4 December 1897 said "The New Cambridge Music Hall in Commercial Street, Bishopsgate, is now nearing completion. The stage will be wide by deep. The premises will be heated throughout by hot water coils, and provision has been made for lighting the house by electric light."
None of these places of entertainment survive today. For a brief time music hall was revived in Curtain Road by the temporary home of the Brick Lane Music Hall. This too has now moved on.
A number of playbills and posters from these music halls survive in the collections of both the Bishopsgate Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
- the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia
These brief notes may help in establishing references to churches in registration documents. St Leonard's parish, Shoreditch, was within the Diocese of London. As the population increased the parish was divided:
- In 1830 the areas of Haggerston and Hoxton were constituted as separate parishes.
- In 1841 a new parish of "St James, Curtain Road" was created.
- In 1848 part of Saint Leonard's parish helped to form the parish of "St Mark, Old Street".
- In 1862 St Leonard's parish was again divided to create the parish of "Shoreditch, St Michael".
- In 1866 a new parish of "Shoreditch, Holy Trinity" was formed from part of Saint Leonard's and part of neighbouring Bethnal Green.
- In 1872 the parish of "Shoreditch, St Agatha" was created from part of Saint James, Curtain Road.
Later decreases in population led to a number of these parishes being combined in the 20th century. For instance, in 1915 Saint Agatha's parish was absorbed by St James, and in 1972 a merged parish of "Shoreditch, St Leonard with St Michael" was formed.
The names of some of the ecclesiastical parishes were used to give names to wards of the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch.
Greater London Research Tips
- See wiki.familysearch.org 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.
- GENUKI has a long list of websites and archive holders in addition to London Metropolitan Archives above. (This list 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.
- St. Leonard Shoreditch BMD's 1558-1640, indexed transcriptions:approx. 11,000 baptisms, 4,500 marriages, 17,000 burials. Free website courtesy of Alan H Nelson, Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley.