The East End Seen through a Family’s History
With somewhere both as infamous and iconic as “The East End of London” (for instance as portrayed by Dickens and Charles Booth), it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that the Victorian and Edwardian East End is something that took many decades to evolve. Moreover, “The East End” is more than the product of successive waves of immigrants from the continent that we hear so much about. As this article seeks to demonstrate by looking at the history of one family, it has also been very much shaped by the comings and goings of people from elsewhere in the capital, and indeed, other parts of England.
1) Cows on the Hackney Road?
Neither of us is East End born and bred but we each have a parent who was, and who moved away, marrying outside the area where they were born. We both have vivid childhood memories of being told about a slightly magical place called “The East End”: Bow Bells, pie and mash and the huge families that Sociologists now describe as “extended”. These tales came to us from a mother and from a maternal grandmother. We are linked by a common ancestor, a certain Edward Galliers, who lived for a period in Hackney in the 1780’s, long before industrialisation and the notorious slums of Victorian and Edwardian times.
It is still not clear whether Edward was actually born within the sound of Bow Bell’s, and the same goes for his wife, Sarah Wright. In the event it does seem unlikely though: they were married in Old Church, St Pancras in 1774, and had their two elder children baptised there. Edward, in the same year and Susanna two years later. Edward dies as a baby, but Susannah eventually goes on to marry an “immigrant” to the East End from Wiltshire, called Edward Card and together they have a large number of offspring, thus laying the foundations for something for which the East End later becomes famous: the extended family….but that is getting ahead of ourselves.
So, back to Edward and Sarah Galliers. We first pick up Edward in “The East End” in 1779 when his 10 month old daughter Sarah is buried on 27th August at St Matthews, Bethnal Green. The following year he appears in “Land Tax Records (1692- 1932)”, and seems to be renting some land from a Benjamin Gofrey. His son William is born on 9th December. 1781seeems to start off quietly enough with William’s baptism in January at St Matthew, Bethnal Green, but later in the year Edward has moved to Hackney. He takes out fire insurance for the sum of £200 and it is through this that we first learn he is a “Cow keeper” and that his address is “Unspecified Place”, “Street, Road or Alley” Hackney Road, Nr Shoreditch. We feel it is fair to assume he moved around the July of 1781, because at this time the Old Bailey Court Records tell us he assaulted one Thomas Cordell, the younger. We are not exactly sure who Thomas Cordell was, but there were a number of families with that surname in the area at the time. A possible candidate is a Thomas Cordell born in 1750, living in Shoreditch, who married Alice Shippey in 1772, but we cannot be sure (if anyone reading this has any information that might end the speculation, we would love to hear from them). Subsequent Old Bailey records seem to show that on 1st September 1781 Edward is granted bail to reappear 4 weeks later. An M.Lewis puts up the bail, but we do not know who he was or why he did this. However, whatever his reason, we suppose he lived to regret the action. The Old Bailey record for 1st October shows that one “Edward Galier” who is “late of the parish of St Matthew, Bethnal Green” does not appear and a “Recogg ordd (is) to be Estd on M.Lewis”. As yet, we have no way of knowing whether the Judge, Peter Averill’s, Thomas Cordell the Younger, or indeed the sorely put upon Lewis ever caught up with Edward, now skulking in Hackney! If any of their descendants are reading this, we can only apologise for our ancestor’s bad behaviour. We think he should have known better, since at this point he is described as a “Yeoman”. The Oxford Companion to Law describes a Yeoman as “A person owning free land of the value of 40shillings yearly and consequently qualified to serve on juries, vote for knights of the shire, and do any other act for whicha probus et legalis homowas required. It was a general term for lesser gentry, owners of small estates and gentlemen farmers.”
We next meet Edward in 1782, still in Hackney, with children Mary Ann, Richard and George being baptised in St Leonards, Shoreditch in 1782, ’84 and ’85 respectively. The last date we have for him being in Hackney is 1787 (Land Tax Records). By 1788 Edward and Sarah’s last child, Thomas, is born at the Endell Street Lying- In Hospital in Holborn, and the records tell us the parents are living in Holborn at this time. In 1794 their son William is an apprentice to a Cabinet Maker called “Jno” Bower of Holborn, Middlesex. The following year Edward is buried, aged just 44 years, on 26th June at The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel in the Parish of Clerkenwell, Spa Fields, London. His wife Sarah is also buried there a few weeks later, aged 51years. The birth of Thomas at a Lying In Hospital and the burial at Spa Fields tend to point to the fact that Edward left this earth somewhat poorer than he was when insuring his property against fire to the value of £200 in 1781 in Hackney. Lying- In Hospitals were, we understand, for respectable poor women and the infamous Spa Fields Burial Grounds also seem to have been for the lower orders. The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel was Non Conformist, and we can only wonder what led to this radical step at the end of their lives. The sad irony is that we have to suppose their mortal remains did not rest in peace for long before they were dug up and burned to make room for other corpses. Alternatively they might have been sold for profit to the hospitals for medical research by the very shady Burial Grounds manager. Not a fate that any God fearing Christian, let alone a Non Conformist, would have wished for, come the Day of Resurrection.
After this, we nothing know of their children Mary Ann, Richard or George, (at present). Thomas died aged 9 months. We know rather more about Susanna and William though and their stories lead us ultimately back into “The East End”.
2) Bethnal Green to Hackney and All Points in Between.
By the time his parents die in 1795 in Islington, the 15 year old William Galliers is an apprentice cabinet maker there, having left the East End of his childhood. He marries Elizabeth Hockings in June 1800 at St Mary Islington, and their first child Elizabeth, born in January 1802, is baptised there on 16th May. 10 months later she is also buried there.
We know next to nothing of the details of William and Elizabeth’s daily life together, beyond the fact he remains a cabinet maker. From here in Islington, however, using their children’s baptismal records, we can follow them as they move through Clerkenwell, via Camberwell, Southwark and Bermondsey in 1822, until William turns up again in Hackney, the area where he grew up and where he later dies. There is a glimpse of an extended family unit here before his death, aged 53, in May 1834. William is living in Brunswick Street, and we know his older sister Susannah is residing in the same road. She is married to Edward Card and has brought up her many children here. Her sister in law, Sarah Reed, nee Card, is also here with her husband William and their family. In addition, we know that in February 1835, William’s little grand daughter, child of his second son Richard and wife Eliza, is baptised from this address…..perhaps suggesting William is living with them at the time of his death, and probably/ possibly for sometime before. We are almost certain his wife Elizabeth died in New Inn Street, which is very close to Brunswick Road, aged 49 years, in 1831. She is buried on 20th March at St Leonards, Shoreditch. A Mary Ann Galliers also dies in New Inn Street around this time and is buried, aged 30 years, on 18th November 1830 at St Leonard Shoreditch, meaning she was born in 1800. She could well be the first child of William and Elizabeth but at the time of writing we have not been able to find her baptism record to verify it. Sadly, this family also suffer another death in March 1831, this time in Curtain Street, again near Brunswick Road and just off New Inn Street. Alice Galliers, nee Perkins, aged 32 years and first wife of William and Elizabeth’s second son Richard is buried on at St Leonards, Shoreditch on the 11th. We are tempted to ask, was it some sort of infection?
William’s second son, Richard, is a cabinet maker like his father, and was baptised in 1810 in St Andrews, Holborn. He is a widower (see above) when he marries Eliza Bedwell, but it might still be significant that she is from South London, where his family have spent many years. They marry in St Mary, Lambeth on 2nd October 1831 and their oldest child, also Richard and eventually a cabinet maker, is baptised in 1833 at St John the Evangelist, Lambeth. It is therefore reasonable to infer that Richard and Eliza move to the East End sometime between January 1833 and May 1834, and thereafter continue to live in the East End, at various locations, until their deaths many years later. They have 8 children (we think) in total, 7 of who are born in the East End. Strong East End roots grow from these children.
In 1839, we get a very rare and precious opportunity to have a quick glance into their lives, when Eliza and the six year old Richard give evidence in The Old Bailey. The facts are that young Richard and his toddler brother William are allegedly “robbed” on 1st May by Susan White, while out on the street alone near their home (the family are living at Queen Square, Hoxton by now). The defendant, Susan White, is found “Not Guilty” but one cannot help but wonder how much of that was because the Jury were unwilling to convict an adult on the evidence of a little boy. Anyway, we will leave Richard to explain what happened when he and William went out after their tea, on a summer evening, to watch the chimney sweeps. We know who we believe. Especially as the defendant has previous! See what you think!
“RICHARD GALLIERS. ‘I am six years old- I live with my father and mother, in Queen-square, Hoxton. I was out on chimney- sweep day with my little brother William- I took him to the top of the court we live in, to see the sweeps- I do not know what time it was- it was after I had my tea- it was light- while I was standing there the prisoner came up to me- I am sure it was her, I knew her directly I saw her- she said “Come with me and I will get you some marbles, and your brother boots and shoes”- the(n) said she knew my mother- I said “I know you don’t”-she said, “Come to Black-horse-fields, and I will give you a large flute”, and she took my flute away- I went to Black-horse fields, which is not very far from the court we live in-she said she lived over the road at a new house- she did not bring me my flute- she took off my shoes and my brothers boots- I had a pinafore on- she did not take that- she took a flannel petticoat- she did not say what she was going to do- she went away- she said she was going to fetch me some marbles- she did not come back with them- I then went home with my brother.’
ELIZA GALLIERS. ‘I am the mother of Richard- he was out with a little brother on the 1st of May- when he came home I missed my big boy’s boots, and the baby’s boots, and a petticoat, and a coral necklace’.”
(Taken from “Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org,version7.0,22 February2013), June 1839, trial of Susan White (t18390617-1937).
Richard and Eliza’s family are in court again, many years later, when their son William John (sadly not the little boy of the above incident…he dies in 1845 in Shoreditch) is in the Old Bailey, in a case involving Bigamy. William John is baptised on 11th March 1849 at St Mary Haggerstone, when the family are living at 10, Marks Place, Haggerstone. Eventually he becomes a “carman”, and in November 1886 he marries Sarah Jane Stamp at “St Michaels and All Angels, Peckham. It was not a marriage made in Heaven, it has to be said. William was a widower having first been married in 1870 at Mile End Old Town, and his bride is a widow…or so she thinks. Her original husband, William Alfred Stamp, we learn, used to beat her and was so cruel, she left after a year. When she marries William John Galliers, she has not seen her first husband, she says, for eight or nine years and supposed him dead, but 3 years before the court hearing, her brother meets him. She eventually gives herself up on 21st July 1893, by which time her first husband really is dead, saying “I give myself up, as it is impossible for me to live with Galliers, as he is in the habit always of throwing up my having committed bigamy….” Under cross examination it also seems William Galliers, now of 32, Crosier Terrace, Homerton, has beaten Sarah Jane himself, as he says “I have been sent to prison for beating you”. It really is starting to sound like an episode of “EastEnders” now! The jury find Sarah Jane guilty, of course, but we are pleased to report they asked the Judge to show mercy. He went on to pass the very lenient sentence of one day in prison. So perhaps Victorian Judges and Juries were not always as draconian as we tend to think they were?
It is this son, William, who back in 1892 registers his mother’s death. She is 78 years and dies on 30th January of bronchitis. She also has “senile debility.” Her death certificate informs us she is a widow, living at 53, Hollins Street, Hagerstone, Shoreditch, at the time of her death. William is present at her death.
William and Elizabeth Galliers’ other legacy to the East End, their youngest daughter Jane, born in Bermondsey in 1822, is also somewhat criminal. Her existence was known about, from previous research, for quite a number of years from the baptismal records, but her very troubled adolescence only really came to light when The Old Bailey website came on-line. It told us that on 4th March 1839, when she 18, she was “confined” for a month for deception and fraud. The really attention grabbing evidence is, however, given by Thomas Meadows, an Officer of Shoreditch. He says,
“The prisoner was brought to the workhouse by one of the officers of the Houseless Poor, being found destitute, but her conduct had been so bad before, that the authorities determined to send her before a Magistrate – she was given into custody on this charge.”
Clearly Jane has been in trouble before. A Family Researcher was asked to go to The London Metropolitan Archives to interrogate the Workhouse Records for St Leonards, Shoreditch. She wrote on 9th September 2009,
“I have researched workhouse records for years but have never across a case such as this!........She (Jane) first appears in March 1838 aged 16…she is sent to the House of Correction and within a very short time is back in the W/House. Next she is sent to a Farm House, and so on until 1842.”
In 1841 Jane appears in Manchester, as Jane Gallears, a female servant. Perhaps she was sent there by a despairing workhouse, but if so it did not work, because she is back by 1842. After this though, things seem to quieten down and the next we hear of her is in November 1845. She is still in Shoreditch, and a servant, when she marries capmaker Richard Moxam. He has also appeared in The Old Bailey on a charge of Simple Larceny in 1831. He was found not guilty, but the court records indicate he may have known Shoreditch Workhouse circa 1831. Way before Jane’s connection to it, but who knows? The rest of Jane’s life is uneventful and ultimately sad. She and Richard appear to have two sons, William in 1847 and Richard James in 1849. Her husband Richard dies in 1859 at 36, Parker Street, Shoreditch. He has a lung haemorrhage that lasts for 13 weeks. Jane is present at his death, and has presumably nursed him. She dies herself aged only 38years the following year, from the heart disease she has had for 2 years. She is a bookbinder at her death, and is living at 9, Macclesfield Street North, St Luke’s.
What causes Jane to create such mayhem? She is first recorded on the records of the workhouse in 1838, aged 16 years. Her father has died in 1834, when she was only 12, and it seems very probable now that her mother was the Elizabeth Galliers who died in New Inn Street in March 1831. Little Jane would have been about 9 years old. It is very likely that the Mary Ann who also died in New Inn Street around the same time as her mother was her eldest sister. Her older brother Richard becomes a widower in 1831 when his first wife Alice Perkins dies. Alice is Jane’s sister in law, so here we have 3 very significant family deaths within a very short space of time. Such a catastrophe is bound to have been very traumatic for this young child. Her father then dies about 3 years later. Who looks after Jane between 1834 and 1838? Is she allowed to run slightly wild? Is she so very angry and grief stricken about losing both her parents and her sister, and does this cause her “to act out “as we now might phrase it, or does she just inherently have such a difficult personality that her siblings and wider family wash their hands of her? As with much Family History, we are left with more questions than answers.
3) It’s on the Cards.
Edward and Sarah’s oldest child, Susannah, marries in the East End on 22nd July 1801. As already mentioned above, her groom is one Edward Card, who was born in Stourton in the county of Wiltshire on 15th September 1782. He is a rope maker by trade, descended from a long line of rope makers (no pun intended) that we have traced back to the Mere District As Edward and Susannah marry in the hamlet of “Ratcliffe” (also known at this time as “Sailors Town”), our assumption is that he has moved to East London to use his rope making skills in the area’s long established ship building industry. He also becomes a victualler around 1808 as it states on his sons baptism, around 1816 he is back as a rope maker again this is written on his son Williams baptism record. They had 8 children but I have found 9, they were still residing in Ratcliffe at this point, maybe changing his occupations to suit the times. Edward there first born in 1801 becomes a tailor by trade he started out as a slop seller which is a seller of cheap made clothes which I guess he sold to the sailors, this was stated on the old bailey proceedings, also my 3rd great granddad Edward marriage certificate says his dad was a tailor, not a merchant tailor sadly as I have checked the records, Sarah, henry, jane, James, Samuel, Marie, john and William all born in Ratcliffe and christened in St Dunstan’s. By 1841 Edward has turned to being a under taker and living at Brunswick Street Hackney. He also buries one of the Galliers around 1842. William his youngest son takes over in 1850 after Edward dies, from then until William dies himself over the next twenty years he is noted as being a under taker he started out as a cabinet maker also I would think a coffin maker. What remains unclear is whether Susannah returned to Islington with her parents between 1787 and 1788, and then moved back East after their deaths in 1795, or whether she never left in the first place. What we do know is that she and Edward settled here for the rest of their lives, moving at some time before the burglary from Ratcliffe to Brunswick Road. Altogether they had 9 children, creating a very large family network that continued for many generations and to an extent, still survives today Edward’s sister Sarah, as mentioned above, has also moved from Wiltshire with her husband William Read and their two children and lives in Brunswick Road .William was born in Mere Wiltshire which is the Gillingham, Silton district Stourton is on the border, He is a dealer in fancy goods, Believe they moved to London after the birth of their daughter. Their son William was born in 1800 in Silton Dorset not long after Sarah and William Snr marries, William jnr marries in 1824 in Limehouse to Eliza Meeson and have six children born in the area Stepney, St Pauls Wharf, their eldest son William dies in the river Thames, he dies in 1872 in Southwark. Their daughter was born in winterbourne Monckton Dorset in 1802 and later dies in in 1858 Mile End. She marries Thomas Churchill pinion in 1822 in Limehouse. They have five children all born in Stepney. Sarah and William live at 100-102 Brunswick Road. No further siblings of Edwards moved to London or the East End. Edward and Susannah’s family all grow up around Stepney marry and have children of their own some marrying foreigners often mariners some moving away from our shores.
One thing that I have noticed with the card family none of them seem to have long lives even today there descendants have many health problems and vi have often wondered if there back ground may have caused it more than bad luck, it can be seen they never had easy lives, Jane henry card and Jane’s husband Richard flowers all die in 1866 was it due to poverty, illness in the area.
So Edward and Susannah, by settling here, mark the real beginning of this extended family. William and Elizabeth, and their second son Richard, move to the area, we assume, because William’s sister is already living here. Likewise, Edward’s sister and brother in law do the same. There are other Galliers in the district though, and several pieces of circumstantial evidence make it very likely that they too are somehow linked to the families already discussed. One such indicator is that at Edward and Susannah’s wedding the witnesses is a William Galliers and his wife Jane (formerly Brymer). We know William and Jane are of a similar age to Susannah’s parents, Edward and Sarah. The latter have been dead for around 6 years and it is as if this older couple are in someway standing in for them. ( Similarly, at the marriage of Maria, William and Jane’s daughter, to the Norwegian sailor, Gabriel Lund Urbye, on 9th September 1814, one of the witnesses is? ??, a daughter of Edward and Susannah.(….is this right…..which one???). Further research needs to done on these and other possible links we have spotted.
Moving on to 21st April1819, the Card/Galliers clan are back in the Old Bailey. Edward Card, a son of Edward and Susannah gives evidence at the trial of Peter Miller for grand larceny. We discover on reading the trial transcript that the 18 year old Edward Card is apprenticed to Edward Maxwell, a slop seller ( someone who sold “slops”: ready made, cheap clothing. Also work clothes worn by sailors and others. Slop specifically seems to have originally denoted the clothes and bedding of a sailor). Edward testifies that “On 22nd April, about 5o’clock in the afternoon I missed this coat from the door- I received information, ran out, and found the prisoner with the coat down an alley close to the shop”. The prisoner’s explanation was that “A man gave it to me to hold”. He was not believed, found guilty and whipped before being discharged.