Place:Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England

Alt namesClerkenwellsource: from redirect
Clerkenwell St. Jamessource: ecclesiastical parish
Clerkenwell St Jamessource: Vision of Britain
Clerkenwell St. Johnsource: ecclesiastical parish from 1753
Goswell Streetsource: Family History Library Catalog
TypeFormer parish
Coordinates51.5236°N 0.1055°W
Located inMiddlesex, England     (1889 - 1965)
See alsoOssulstone Hundred, Middlesex, Englandancient subdivision covering the area until 1894
Finsbury (metropolitan borough), London, Englandmetropolitan borough of which it was part 1900-1965
Islington (London Borough), Greater London, EnglandLondon borough to which it was transferred in 1965
Contained Places
Clerkenwell Priory
source: Family History Library Catalog

Clerkenwell, or Clerkenwell St. James, is one of the ancient parishes of Middlesex, England. In 1900 it became part of Finsbury Metropolitan Borough which also took in other parishes to the east and west of Clerkenwell. Finsbury Metropolitan Borough was abolished in 1965, becoming part of the newly-created London Borough of Islington.

The well in Farringdon Lane, after which Clerkenwell was named, was rediscovered in 1924. The watchmaking and watch repairing trades were once of great importance. As the map shows, it developed in two sections divided by Clerkenwell Green.

Today Clerkenwell (pronounced "Clarkenwell") is a busy area close to the centre of Greater London. Its two main thoroughfares are Goswell Road, running at angle slightly west of north and south, and the wide Clerkenwell Road which runs east and west. The Society of Genealogists is down a cul de sac at the intersection of these two streets.


Wikipedia covers in more detail the history of Clerkenwell through the centuries from a monastery founded by the Knights Hospitallers known as the Priory of Clerkenwell, to an area of notoriety beyond the City of London during the Tudor period, to a fashionable place of residence in the 17th century. The Industrial Revolution changed the area again. By the 19th century it was a centre for breweries, distilleries and the printing industry. It gained an especial reputation for the making of clocks, marine chronometers and watches, which activity once employed many people from around the area. Flourishing craft workshops still carry on some of the traditional trades, such as jewellery-making. In the first half of the 20th century, Kodak had a large factory in Clerkenwell.

London's Little Italy

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

In the 1850s the southwestern part of Clerkenwell became known as London's "Little Italy" because around 2,000 Italians had settled in the area. The community had mostly dispersed by the 1960s, but the area remains the 'spiritual home' of London's Italians, and is a focal point for more recent Italian immigrants, largely because of St Peter's Italian Church. There are officially over 200,000 Italians in London, and possibly many more. The Italian Procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Sagra takes place each July in the streets surrounding the church.

A plan of Clerkenwell in London by James Tyrer, 1805. The old part of Clerkenwell, which lies immediately to the north of the City of London, is at the bottom of the map. Development has occurred along much of Clerkenwell's north-axis of St John Street. The then recently developed Pentonville, which lay in the parish of Clerkenwell, but was otherwise more closely connected with Islington (which was a separate parish and is shown in part in grey at the top right) is at the top of the map. [;_Tyrer,_James.jpg Wikimedia Commons
A plan of Clerkenwell in London by James Tyrer, 1805. The old part of Clerkenwell, which lies immediately to the north of the City of London, is at the bottom of the map. Development has occurred along much of Clerkenwell's north-axis of St John Street. The then recently developed Pentonville, which lay in the parish of Clerkenwell, but was otherwise more closely connected with Islington (which was a separate parish and is shown in part in grey at the top right) is at the top of the map. [;_Tyrer,_James.jpg Wikimedia Commons

Local government

Clerkenwell St. James (redirected here) was an ancient parish in the Finsbury division of the Ossulstone Hundred of Middlesex. Part of the parish of St. James was split off as the parish of Clerkenwell St. John in 1723. However, for civil matters they remained a single parish.

A reform of local government in 1900 abolished the Clerkenwell vestry (the body of local government in existence since 1855) and the parish became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury. Alexandra Park, an exclave of the parish, was transferred to Hornsey, Middlesex at the same time.

Image:Finsbury South311019 2in.png

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Clerkenwell.

Research tips

  • Just off the Clerkenwell Road, Clerkenwell houses the Society of Genealogists at 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA. The Society is one of the foremost non-governmental archives of genealogical material in the United Kingdom.
  • London Metropolitan Archives is also located within the old boundaries of Clerkenwell.

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 Clerkenwell. 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.