Place:Bermondsey, London, England

Alt namesSt Mary Magdalenesource: from redirect
Bermondseysource: from redirect
Bermondsey St. Mary Magdalensource: ecclesiastical and civil parish before 1889
Coordinates51.4979°N 0.07972°W
Located inLondon, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inSurrey, England     ( - 1889)
See alsoBrixton Hundred, Surrey, Englandancient county division in which it was located
Bermondsey (metropolitan borough), London, Englandmetropolitan borough covering the area 1899-1965
Southwark (London Borough), Greater London, EnglandLondon borough covering the area since 1965
Contained Places
Bermondsey Abbey
source: Family History Library Catalog
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Bermondsey has been since 1965 a town in the London Borough of Southwark, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southeast of Charing Cross on the south side of the River Thames. To the west of Bermondsey lies Southwark, to the east Rotherhithe and Deptford, to the south Walworth and Peckham. The Tower of London is directly across the River Thames.

Prior to 1889 Bermondsey was located in the county of Surrey. Its oldest parish was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. With the expansion of population in the mid-19th century, the parish was divided into four as described in the excerpt from Wilson's gazetteer quoted below.

A Vision of Britain through Time provides the following description of Bermondsey from John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870-72:

"BERMONDSEY, a parish and a [registration] district in Southwark borough, Surrey. The parish lies on the right bank of the Thames, below London bridge, between Southwark proper and Rotherhithe; and is in the postal district of London S. E., and traversed by the Greenwich railway. Acres, 688; of which 27 are water. Real property, £155,629. Population in 1841: 34,947; in 1861: 58,355. Houses: 8,220. Large portion of the surface is covered with compact town, suburban to London. A quondam island or "eye," belonging to a Saxon chief Beormund, seems to have given rise to the name Bermondsey, originally Beormund's-eye, then Bermundesye. A Cluniac Abbey was founded here, in 1082, by Aylwin Child of London; endowed with the surrounding manor by William Rufus; made the prison and the death-place of the widowed queen of Edward IV.; given, at the dissolution, to Sir Robert Southwell; and sold, the same year, to Sir Thomas Pope. A magnificent mansion speedily superseded the Abbey church; and was afterwards inhabited by Thomas Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex, who died here in 1583. A gate of the Abbey and some other remains were standing within the present century; but the only memorial of it now is the name of Abbey-street. Two ancient hospitals, dedicated to St. Saviour and St. Thomas, stood adjacent. A chalybeate well, some distance SE of the Abbey's site, came into repute about 1770; and though now built over, is commemorated in the name of the Spa road. Numerous watercourses or mill-streams, rising and falling with the tidal current of the Thames, early attracted manufacturers of the classes requiring their aid; but gave rise to noxious effluvia, and were converted into sewers under the sanitary regulations consequent on the ravages of Asiatic cholera. The suburb was long one of the filthiest seats connected with London; but has, of late years, been greatly improved. One part of it, called Jacob's Island, the scene of Bill Sykes's death in "Oliver Twist," is still pre-eminently bad. The chief employments are Leatherworking, ship-building, and hat-making; but other employments are numerous. A tract on the [suburb] is disposed in very productive market gardens.
"The living is a rectory in the diocese of Winchester. Value: £300. Patron: Mrs. Ram. The church is a plain structure of 1680, on the site of one which stood at the Conquest; and it has, among its communion plate, a richly chased silver salver, supposed to be of the time of Edward II., and to have belonged to the Cluniac Abbey. Three chapelries, all vicarages, St. James, Christ Church, and St. Paul, were constituted in respectively 1840, 1845, and 1846. Value of each, £300. Patron of St. James, the Rector; of Christ Church and St. Paul, alternately the Crown and the Bishop. St. James church was built in 1829, at a cost of £21,412; and is a handsome structure, with an Ionic portico and a tower, after designs by Savage. Christ Church was built in 1848, at a cost of £4,870; and is in the Romanesque style. The total places of worship in 1851 were 5 of the Church of England, with 5,313 sittings; 2 of Independents, with 1,500 [sittings]; 7 of Baptists, with 1,980 [sittings]; 2 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,972 [sittings]; 2 of the Wesleyan Association, with 370 [sittings]; 1 undefined, with 70 [sittings]; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 1,250 [sittings]. There is also a convent of the Sisters of Mercy. The schools in 1851 were 13 public day schools, with 3,081 scholars; 132 private day schools, with 3,277 [scholars]; 14 Sunday schools, with 3,237 [scholars]; and 5 evening schools for adults, with 252 [scholars]. One of the public schools has an endowed income of £213; another has £98; and other charities have £179.
"The [registration] district is conterminate with the parish, and is divided into St. James, St. Mary Magdalene, and Leather-Market [registration sub-districts]. Poor-rates in 1866: £25,638. Marriages in 1866: 617; births: 2,897, of which 79 were illegitimate; deaths: 1,623, of which 891 were at ages under 15 years, and 20 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60: 4,341; births: 21,152; deaths: 13,228. St. James [registration] subdistrict is conterminate with St. James chapelry. Acres: 454; of which 27 are water. Population: 25,154. Houses: 3,630. St. Mary Magdalene [registration] subdistrict extends from the parish boundary, crossing Swan-street, near the Kent-road, along the E side of Swan-street and Pages-walk and the S side of the Grange-road, Star-corner, and Bermondsey-street to Crucifix-lane; thence along the parish boundary to Artillery-street, Church-street, and Russell street to Dockhead; thence to Gedling-street and the Neckinger-road to the Spa-road, and along the Spa-road, Grange-road, and Upper Grange-road; and thence along the parish boundary to Swan-street. Acres: 142. Population: 16,505. Houses: 2,195. Leather-Market subdistrict commences at the parish boundary, crossing Swan-street, near the Kent-road, and comprises the space in a line to run from that point and encompassing the W side of Swan-street, Pages-walk, Grange-road, Star-corner, Bermondsey-street, into Snows-fields, and following the parish boundary there into Crosby-row, crossing Long-lane, Baalzephon-street, and the New-road up to Swan-street again. Acres: 92. Population: 16,696. Houses: 2,395."

The Wikipedia article on Bermondsey Parish describes the evolution of the Victorian parish into the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey.

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Bermondsey.

Surrey Research Tips


Administrative boundaries of the county of Surrey (Surrey History Centre. The centre has a website with a number of useful indexes--titheholders in various parishes, deaths at the county gaol, etc.)

Registration Districts

  • Registration Districts in Surrey from their introduction in 1837 to the present. By drilling down through the links you can follow any parish through the registration districts to which it was attached.

GENUKI provisions

The website GENUKI provides a very comprehensive list of reference sources for the County of Surrey. It includes:

  • Archives and Libraries
  • Church record availability for both Surrey and the former Surrey part of Greater London
  • 19th century descriptions of the ecclesiastical parishes
  • Lists of cemeteries
  • Local family history societies
  • A list of historic maps online


Greater London Research Tips

A reminder that Greater London was not formed until 1965 and covers a much greater territory than its predecessor, the County of London formed in 1900. The City of London was only a part of the County of London. A map of the boroughs of Greater London is reproduced on all Greater London borough pages. A map of the boroughs of the smaller County of London is reproduced on all County of London borough pages.

Researching ancestors in London will probably be more successful than researching ancestors in the rest of England, particularly for the period before 1837 and the advent of civil registration. Baptisms, marriages and burials are available online for County of London parishes, and possibly for parishes throughout Greater London as well.

  • Anglican Parishes in London is a wiki here on WeRelate listing the places of worship of the established church throughout London. The churches are grouped within the post-1965 boroughs and for each is the street address, a link to the Booth Map (inner boroughs only), the time span for which the database AIM25 holds records, the FamilySearch Wiki link (see below), the Wikipedia link, and further notes. This is a work-in-progress and not all churches are listed as yet, but it is a guide to a great deal more information on those for which information has been gathered.
  • 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. Many of these lists start in 1813 and stretch into the 20th century; some start even earlier.


  • A street-by-street map of London (both sides of the Thames, and stretching from Limehouse, Stepney and Greenwich in the east to Hyde Park and Kensington in the west) drawn by Edward Mogg in 1806. Blows up to a very readable level. Highly recommended viewing. Shows named areas on the edge of the County of London (1900-1965) as the small villages they were in 1800. Streets in the City are named, but churches are missing.
  • The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers edited by Cecil Humphery-Smith and published by Phillimore & Co Ltd (edition of 1995) provides a map of the City of London indicating all the parishes and includes dates of commencement of registers for parishes formed before 1832.
  • Wikipedia has an expandable map of the area of devastation of the 1666 fire. The map includes the location of Pudding Lane where the fire started.
  • A map of London in the 1890s provided by the National Library of Scotland. There are a few steps between the home page index and the individual maps which may be difficult to follow for those who don't know London, but the maps themselves are produced at the scale of 5 feet to the mile on the original and are very clear. Houses on streets are marked, but not numbered.
  • Ordnance Survey map of London 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing London parishes just after the reorganization of 1899. The map was originally drawn over a street map at a scale of 1 inch to the mile and can be blown up to inspect a single borough. Only the major streets are marked and are only visible at maximum magnification. The City of London is an inset in the top right hand corner.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Middlesex 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing the parishes remaining in Middlesex after the reorganization of 1899 when much of the former area of Middlesex had been transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Surrey 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Surrey parishes (chiefly Southwark) just after the reorganization of 1899 when the most urban parts of Surrey were transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Kent 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Kent parishes just after the reorganization of 1899 when the western part of Kent had been transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Essex 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Essex parishes (West Ham, East Ham, Ilford) which were absorbed into Greater London in 1965.

Registration Districts

  • Registration Districts in London, Registration Districts in Middlesex, Registration Districts in Surrey, Registration Districts in Kent, and Registration Districts in Essex 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, and has been updated into the 21st century. If the only information about an individual has been obtained from UKBMD, the name of the registration district is considered a "placename" within WeRelate and can be used to provide a broad estimate of the location.


  • Deceased Online includes four of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries (Brompton, Highgate, Kensal Green, and Nunhead) in its inventory of 65 London cemeteries. Transcripts for Abney Park are free with registration online at Ancestry (international subscription necessary) has "London, England, City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Registers, 1841-1966". That leaves West Norwood without comprehensive online access to burial records. (Deceased Online and Ancestry may have increased their provision since this was written in 2016.)
  • As of October 2019 Ancestry has a file titled "England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers 1800-2016" which includes Abney Park Cemetery, Greenford Park Cemetery, Acton Cemetery, Ealing & Old Brentford Cemetery, Havelock Norwood Cemetery, Hortus Cemetery, South Ealing Cemetery, Queens Road Cemetery, and Chingford Mount Cemetery.
  • The City of London Cemetery, at Manor Park, near Wanstead in the London Borough of Redbridge also contains remains transferred from former parishes in the City of London whose graveyards have been replaced by streets and commercial buildings.
  • Brookwood Cemetery beyond the Greater London borders in Surrey was opened in 1854 for burials for Londoners. See the Wikpedia article.

Other online sources

  • See the FamilySearch Wiki under "London" and also under "Middlesex", "Surrey", "Essex" and "Kent" for key information about Greater London's jurisdictions and records, plus links to indexes, reference aids and Family History Library holdings.
  • 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 and GENUKI has not picked it up.)
  • 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.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Bermondsey. 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 Bermondsey (parish). 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.