Place:Southwark, London, England

Alt namesLondon Borough of Southwarksource: from redirect
Banksidesource: section of the borough
Old Kent Roadsource: section of the borough
The Borough or Boroughsource: common parlance
TypeFormer parish, Borough (metropolitan)
Coordinates51.498°N 0.083°W
Located inLondon, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inSurrey, England     ( - 1889)
Greater London, England     (1965 - )
See alsoSouthwark (London Borough), Greater London, EnglandLondon borough covering the area since 1965
Contained Places
Southwark Cathedral ( - 1889 )
Liberty (parochial)
Clink ( 1104 - 1889 )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

This article deals with the earlier (1900-1965) metropolitan borough of London, formally titled "Southwark Metropolitan Borough" or the "Metropolitan Borough of Southwark", and the set of parishes which preceded it. Wikipedia deals with these in separate articles: Metropolitan Borough of Southwark and Southwark.

Southwark is also the name of a modern (established 1965) borough of Greater London: (London Borough of Southwark). See this Wikipedia article.

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Southwark, which is on the south side of the River Thames, forms one of the oldest parts of London. It historically formed an ancient borough in the county of Surrey, and was made up of a number of densely populated parishes. It was originally independent of the City of London, but increasingly came under its influence and jurisdiction. By the late 19th and early-20th centuries Southwark was an ad hoc district of London. Improvements in transportation during this period led to population decrease as people found it easier to travel into work from areas further away. Southwark is now the location of the City Hall offices of the Greater London Authority.


The ancient borough of Southwark was also known simply as The Borough—or Borough—and this name has persisted as an alternative name for the area in the same way as "The City" refers to the City of London. Southwark was also simultaneously referred to as the Ward of Bridge Without when administered by the City (from 1550 to 1900) and as an Aldermanry until 1978.

Image:Southwark before 1900.png

Before 1500 much of Southwark was owned by the church-—the greatest reminder of monastic London is Southwark Cathedral, originally the priory of St Mary Overy.

Local governance

The ancient borough of Southwark initially consisted of the Surrey parishes of

The parishes of St. Margaret and St. Mary Magdalene were abolished in 1541 and their former area combined to create Southwark St. Saviour. Around 1555 a new parish, Southwark St. Thomas, was split off from Southwark St. Olave, and in 1733 another parish, Southwark St. John Horsleydown, was also split off. They each formed separate parishes which lasted until the turn of the 20th century.

In 1855 the parishes came into the area of responsibility of the pre-cursor of the County of London: the Metropolitan Board of Works. Southwark St. George the Martyr was large enough to be governed by an elected committee known as a vestry. Southwark St. Saviour was combined with Southwark Christchurch (the former liberty of Paris Garden) to form another local administration, Southwark St. Saviour's District. Southwark St. John Horsleydown, Southwark St. Olave and Southwark St. Thomas were grouped to form the Southwark St. Olave District.

In 1889 Southwark St. Saviour's District, Southwark St. Olave District, Southwark St. George the Martyr parish, and two more eastern parishes, Newington Rotherhithe all became part of the County of London. Southwark St. Olave and Southwark St. Thomas were re-combined into a single parish in 1896.

The Metropolitan Borough of Southwark was created in 1900 and comprised the parishes (or liberties) of

A separate Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey was formed from the Southwark St. Olave district and Rotherhithe in 1900. (See separate article).

In 1965 Bermondsey and Southwark Metropolitan Boroughs joined together again along with the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell to form the current London Borough of Southwark in Greater London.

Image:337px-Southwark areas.png

The Old Kent Road

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

The Old Kent Road is a road in Southwark and forms part of Watling Street, the Roman road which ran from Dover to Holyhead. In the map at the top of the page it is located along the border between the parish of Bermondsey and the long panhandle of Southwark St. George the Martyr. It is the road that leads to Kent rather than a road in the Kent part of London.

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Southwark.

Research tips

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.
  • 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. Much of the material will predate most genealogical searches.
  • Old Maps of Southwark provided by the London Borough of Southwark.
  • A map from GENUKI placing all the churches of Southwark and Bermondsey on a modern street map of the area.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Southwark. 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 Old Kent Road. 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.

  • The map at the top of the page is based on a map from London Ancestor.
  • The second map, "Southwark areas", is copied from Wikipedia and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. The original uploader was Se16boy.