Place:St. Michael Paternoster Royal, London (City of), London, England

NameSt. Michael Paternoster Royal
Alt namesSt. Michael Paternoster Royalsource: from redirect
Coordinates51.5112°N 0.09216°W
Located inLondon (City of), London, England     (1219 - the present)
Also located inMiddlesex, England     ( - 1889)
Greater London, England     (1965 - )
See alsoSt. Martin Vintry, London (City of), London, Englandparish which merged with it following the Great Fire
source: Family History Library Catalog

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

St. Michael Paternoster Royal (#87) is a parish church in the City of London. The original building, which was first recorded in the 13th century, was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The church was rebuilt under the aegis of Sir Christopher Wren. St. Michael’s was also severely damaged during the London Blitz in the Second World War. It was restored between 1966 and 1968.

Pre-Great Fire London had seven churches dedicated to the Archangel Michael; all but one (St. Michael le Querne) were rebuilt after the Great Fire.

The earliest record of St Michael’s is as St Michael of Paternosterchierch and is dated 1219. The suffix comes from its location on Paternoster Lane (now College Hill), which, in turn was named after the sellers of paternosters – or rosaries – based there. The suffix Royal is first recorded in the next century and refers to another nearby street, now vanished, called "Le Ryole", which was a corruption of La Reole, a town in Bordeaux. This street was so named due to the presence of numerous wine merchants.

A local resident in the early 15th century was Richard Whittington, four times Lord Mayor of London. One of his earlier philanthropic acts, made in 1409, was to pay for the rebuilding and extension of St. Michael Paternoster Royal after a vacant plot of land was acquired in Le Ryole. He later founded the College of St. Spirit and St. Mary within the church, so that St Michael's became a collegiate church, i.e. it was administered by a college of priests instead of a rector. It was commonly known as Whittington's College, or Whittington College. (The college was relocated from College Hill to Highgate Hill in the 1820s, and removed again in 1966 to Felbridge, West Sussex. The college was dissolved by Edward VI in 1548; but was re-established in a new entity a few years later under Queen Mary. The title seems in any case to have persisted for the church, giving the names of College Street and College Hill to neighbouring streets. Adjacent to the church, Whittington also founded an almshouse. The almshouse moved to Highgate in 1808 and later to its present location in East Grinstead in 1966.

Image:London southern parishes 1870.png

Sir Richard was buried in St. Michael’s in 1423 on the south side of the altar near his wife, Alice. John Stow, the Tudor historian, records that Whittington’s body was dug up by the then Rector Thomas Mountain, during the reign of Edward VI, in the belief that he had been buried with treasure. He was not, so Mountain took his leaden shroud. The grave was dug up again during the reign of Mary I and his body re-covered in lead. An attempt to find his grave in 1949 did uncover a mummified cat, but no Lord Mayor's body.

After the church’s destruction in the Fire, the parish was united with that of St. Martin Vintry (#67), also destroyed but not rebuilt. Construction of a new church began in 1685 (one of the last of the 51 churches to be rebuilt) and stopped in 1688 owing to the financial uncertainty associated with the Glorious Revolution of 1689. Building began again the next year, supervised by Wren's master mason Strong: it was finished in 1694. Its steeple was built between 1713 and 1717.

St. Michael’s underwent a number of renovations in the 19th century, by James Elmes in 1820, William Butterfield in 1866 and Ewan Christian in 1894. Their work was lost on 23 July 1944 when the church was hit by a V1 flying bomb, leaving only its walls and tower.

Services continued in the remaining shell until 1955. A proposal by the diocese to demolish the walls and preserve the tower only was successfully opposed by the City of London Corporation, and the church restored between 1966 and 1968. It is the latest City church to be restored.

St Michael’s was reopened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 19 December 1968 as the Headquarters of the Mission to Seamen (now Mission to Seafarers), an Anglican organisation which supports chaplains in ports around the world. It is also supported by City Livery Companies.

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article St Michael Paternoster Royal. Includes descriptions of the exterior and the interior of the church.

Research tips

  • The FamilySearch Wiki article entitled St Michael [Paternoster Royal with St Martin Vintry, London Genealogy London Genealogy] leads to many sources connected with the church and its parish. This page has a useful map (quite a way down the page) for placing the parish in relation to its neighbours.

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 St Michael Paternoster Royal. 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.