Place:Westminster, London, England

Watchers
NameWestminster
Alt namesAecclesia Sancti Petri Westmonasteriisource: Domesday Book (1985) p 181
Knightsbridgesource: Family History Library Catalog
Sohosource: Family History Library Catalog
TypeParish, City, Borough (metropolitan)
Coordinates51.499°N 0.127°W
Located inLondon, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inMiddlesex, England     ( - 1889)
See alsoWestminster (London Borough), Greater London, EnglandLondon borough of which it became a part in 1965
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

NOTE: This article is about the ancient borough and parish of Westminster. A sketchmap of the borough in 1870 is provided toward the bottom of this page.
Westminster is also the name of a modern borough of London that that was created in 1965. See Westminster (London Borough) and the the Wikipedia article.



Westminster is No. 28 on the map.


Administratively, Westminster was a borough and city and also a liberty. The borough and city covered the original parishes of

whilst the liberty included (as well as the three places in the borough) the parishes and extra parochial places of

The "ancient borough" of Westminster was transferred from Middlesex to the newly-created County of London in 1889 and became the Westminster Metropolitan Borough in 1900. Westminster Metropolitan Borough was abolished in 1965, becoming part of the London Borough of the City of Westminster, which also covered the former boroughs and parishes of Marylebone and Paddington.

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

The Westminster Metropolitan Borough was itself the result of an administrative amalgamation which took place in 1900. Sir John Hunt O.B.E was the First Town Clerk of the City of Westminster, 1900–1928.

Prior to 1900, the area occupied by what would become the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster had been administered by five separate local bodies:

  • the Vestry of St George Hanover Square,
  • the Vestry of St Martin in the Fields,
  • Strand District Board of Works,
  • Westminster District Board of Works and
  • the Vestry of Westminster St James.

Contents

History

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Westminster describes an area stretching no more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster on the north bank of the River Thames. The settlement grew up around the palace and the abbey, as a "service area" to them. St Margaret's Westminster adjacent to the abbey, was built as a parish church for the servants of the abbey and of the palace. The population was that of a small village and the abbey, though large, could not accommodate them. As time passed Westminster became larger and, in the Georgian period (18th century), became connected through urban ribbon development with the City along The Strand. It did not become a viable local government unit until created as a civil parish. However as a result of Henry VIII's Reformation of 1539 the Abbey was abolished and established as a "cathedral" and that is the source of the origin of the parish being described as 'City' although it was only a fraction of the size of the City of London and the Borough of Southwark at that time. Indeed the Cathedral and diocesan status of the church only lasted from 1539 to 1556, but the 'city' status of Westminster was retained for a mere parish within Middlesex. As such it had a Member of Parliament in 1545. This honour was not retained and it was reduced to part of the county representation until 1707 when it was given two MPs as a new Parliamentary Borough, centuries after the City and Southwark received the same status.

Royal seat

The historic core of Westminster is the former Thorney Island on which Westminster Abbey was built. The abbey became the traditional venue of the coronation of the monarchs of England from that of Harold Godwinson in January 1066.

From about 1200 the Palace of Westminster, located near the abbey, became the principal royal residence, marked by the transfer of royal treasury and financial records to Westminster from Winchester. Later the palace housed the developing Parliament and England's law courts. Thus London developed two focal points: the City of London for financial and economic affairs and Westminster for political and cultural ones.

The monarchy later moved to the Palace of Whitehall (1530-1698) on Whitehall immediately south of the Abbey and St James' Palace (1531-1837) on the Mall and eventually to Buckingham Palace (1837) and other palaces. The main law courts have since moved to the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

Victorian divide

Charles Booth's poverty map showing Westminster in 1889 (illustration in Wikipedia) showed the full range of income and capital brackets for people living in adjacent streets; Westminster's central western area had become (by 1850) (the) Devil's Acre in the southern flood channel ravine of the Tyburn (stream), yet Victoria Street and other small streets and squares were pictured in yellow/gold, the highest colouring of social class in London. The abject poverty with the clearance of this slum and drainage improvement has been shed from Westminster but there is a typical Central London property distinction within the area which is very acute, epitomised by grandiose 21st century developments and architectural high point listed buildings neighbouring areas of social housing (mostly non-council housing) such as the buildings of the Peabody Trust founded by philanthropist George Peabody (1795-1869).

Local government

The Westminster area formed part of the City and Liberty of Westminster in Middlesex. The ancient parish was St Margaret; after 1727 this became the civil parish of 'St Margaret and St John'--the latter being a new church required for the increasing population. The area around Westminster Abbey formed the extra-parochial Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter which was surrounded by — but not part of — either parish. Until 1900 the local council was the combined vestry of St Margaret and St John (also known as the Westminster District Board of Works from 1855 to 1887), which was based at Westminster City Hall on Caxton Street from 1883. The Liberty of Westminster, governed by the Westminster Court of Burgesses, also included St Martin in the Fields and several other parishes and places. Westminster had its own quarter sessions, but the Middlesex sessions also had jurisdiction. The area was transferred from Middlesex to the County of London in 1889 and the local government of Westminster was reformed in 1900 when the court of burgesses and parish vestries were abolished, to be replaced with a metropolitan borough council. The borough was given city status, allowing it to be known as the City of Westminster and its council as Westminster City Council.

A map showing the civil parishes of Westminster as they appeared in 1870. Based on the Ordnance Survey Town Plan of London (1871-76) at 1:1056 scale.

The small liberties on the east are, in order from the top:

  • the Liberty of the Rolls (shown in grey)
  • St. Clement Danes (marked in pink with two detached portions:one above the others, the second the westermost of the small liberties)
  • St. Mary le Strand (marked in pink)
  • the Precinct of the Savoy (marked in pink)

The square between Westminster St. Margaret and Westminster St. John the Evangelist is the precinct of Westminster Abbey (the Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter)

Map credit: Doc77can - Own work CC BY-SA 3.0 "Westminster Civil Parish Map 1870" by Doc77can - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons



The Penny Cyclopaedia in 1843 describes the boundaries as:
"formed on the southern and chief part of the eastern side by the left bank of the river Thames. The boundary leaves the river about midway between Waterloo bridge and Hungerford market, and with a little deviation follows the course of the Strand eastward to Temple Bar, being separated from the river in this part by what is termed the liberty of the duchy of Lancaster and by the western part of the Temple. The boundary turns northward from Temple Bar up Shire Lane, and then runs in an irregular line westward, keeping to the south of Lincoln’s Inn Fields till it reaches Drury Lane: it then turns north-westward up Drury Lane to Castle Street, and again turn westward and then northward runs by Castle Street, West Street, and Crown Street, Soho, to the eastern end of Oxford Street. The northern boundary runs in a very direct line westward along Oxford Street and the north side of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, making a small detour in one place, so as to include St. George’s burying-ground, to the northern end of the Serpentine river. From this point the western boundary follows the course of the Serpentine and of a stream which runs from its south-eastern extremity, now for the most part covered over, west of Kinnerton Street (which runs at the back of Wilton Crescent), Lowndes Street, Chesham Street, Westbourn Street, and the Commercial Road, to the Thames just in front of Chelsea Hospital."

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. 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.
  • The Victoria County History Series only has as yet one volume dealing with London. This outlines the history of the religious houses of the borough of Southwark and the cities of London and Westminster. Most of the material will predate of most genealogical searches.

Middlesex Research Tips

Parts of Middlesex were absorbed into London in 1889 (Inner London), and some in 1965 (Outer London). Depending on the specific location and the year being investigated it may be necessary to check London records as well as those of Middlesex.

  • See wiki.familysearch.org under "Middlesex" for key information about the jurisdictions and records of Middlesex, 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.
  • The Victoria History of the County of Middlesex is a series of volumes available online through British History Online. The volumes were written over the past hundred or so years by a number of authors and cover various sections of Middlesex. A list of the volumes and what each contains can be found under the source Victoria History of the County of Middlesex
  • 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 has a separate page for Middlesex references.
  • GENUKI also has a list of the Archives and Local Studies Libraries for each of the boroughs of Greater London.
  • Registration Districts in Middlesex and Registration Districts in London, 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.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Westminster. 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.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at City of Westminster. 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.