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From the Parish Registers (1):
Baptisms, Weddings and Burials at St George-in-the-East


General Comments


Note: the registers for the early years are in fragile condition, and are not available for general inspection at the London Metropolitan Archive where they are held, but can be viewed there on microfilm, or via ancestry.co.uk. A few of the older registers are barely legible.
 
St George-in-the-East was a civil registrationdistrict (as well as an ecclesiastical parish) 'in the county of Middlesex' from 1837 to 1889, and in the 'county of London' from 1889 to 1925, when it was designated as 'Stepney'. This can confuse family historians: birth and marriage certificates from this period  do not necessarily


The Gregorian calendar

The change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar took effect in 1752, from which time the new year began on 1 January rather than 25 March (Lady Day); for simplicity, the table below follows the 'new style', counting events in January-March up to 1752 as belonging to the year numbered from 25 March. The registers tend to use the style (e.g.) '1740/41' for these months
(for further explanation, see here).

A primary record
Before the introduction of civil registration of births, deaths, and non-church marriages, parochial registers were the primary record, so it was important to correct mistakes. Errors occurred both because of illiteracy (people couldn't check what was written) and, in the case of baptisms, through the system of 'rough' or 'day' books in which the clerk noted down details and later transcribed them into the registers: there was no preliminary paperwork - you just turned up (and, as sometimes noted, a few failed to stay and register, e.g. 1756 a child was this day carried away from the church without being registered -  and see below for further examples). For marriages, detailed 'day books' were also kept, from which banns were read (unless the marriage was by licence, for some reason - more common than today), and in due course there was a register to be signed (or marked, by non-literates). But mistakes still occurred. Generally the error was a wrong or omitted forename, but sometimes the surname was incorrect (example 'Mansell' for 'Manson', or baptisms in the mother's maiden name). Occasionally the sex of a child was wrong: in 1759 'Matthew' was changed to 'Martha', in 1760 'Sarah' to 'Samuel', in 1837 'James' to 'Jane' and in 1858 'Henry' Gaffken to 'Eleanor'. Sometimes wrong dates were recorded, which could cause problems; for example, an affidavit of 1816 is included in the baptism register declaring that
....Elizabeth Luton of 3 Silver Street in the Parish of St George in the said County and the wife of William Luton this day cometh before me of His Majesty's Justice of the Peace for the said County and Maketh Oath that she, the Deponent, is the Mother of Richard Luton by her said Husband William Luton. And that this Deponent being desirous of getting her Son into Shakespears Walk School [see here for details of this 'British Union School'] finds it necessary to prove that her Son is under Ten years of age. And that on obtaining a Certificate of her Son's Baptism she finds that he is stated to be born 'the 26th of September 1806' instead of 1807, her Son having been baptized about a month after his birth which is stated in the said Certificate to be in '1807, 25th of October' as wiill appear by the said Certificate hereto annexed. And this Deponent saith that the same must have been an error of her husband, she herself not having been present at the Baptism.
Sworn in the Public Office, Shadwell, ?? April 1816
Eliz Luton (her mark)

[The Rector's certificate, also appended to the registers, states]
'Register of Baptisms for the year 1807, 25th of October
Richard, Son of William Luton, lighterman, by Elizabeth, Silver Street, born the 26th of September 1806'
extracted from the Register of Baptisms this 24th day of April in the Year 1816
By me, R. Farington, Rector

Sometimes corrections were needed where a couple had signed the marriage register (or made their mark) with the incorrect name, particularly when foreigners had changed or anglicized their names.  The clergy noted corrections; for example,

In 1835 a system of declarations, sworn before a police court magistrate, had replaced the more elaborate requirement of an affidavit, and a number of these are pinned into the registers; after the details of the correction, the printed text reads
...and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the Provisions of an Act made and passed in the [Fifth and] Sixth Year[s] of the Reign of his late Majesty King William IV [Cap LXII] entituled 'An Act to repeal an Act of the present Session of Parliament, entituled an Act for the more efficient Abolition of Oaths and Affirmations taken and made in various Departments of the State, and to substitute Declarations in lieu thereof, and for the more entire suppression of Voluntary and Extra-judicial Oaths and Affidavits, and to make other provisions for the Abolition of unnecessary Oaths.'
Later, this fell out of use, and incumbents simply inserted a marginal note witnessed by the parties.

For a few years
in the latter part of the 18th century, the registers were inspected - baptism and wedding registers in 1784 (signed 'P. Keene Ins. Reg.'), 1786, and 1788 (but the inspector didn't pick up the mis-numbering jump in the baptism registers for that year).

Civil Registration 1837
There had been previous attempts to regulate marriage, notably Lord Hardwicke's Act of 1753 (26 Geo II), 'An Act for the better Preventing Clandestine Marriages', requiring (except for Jews and Quakers) that marriages be conducted in an Anglican church, with an Anglican officiant, and after banns or licence, with particular provision for the marriage of minors, who required parental consent. New registers were issued, and the officiant had to sign each entry (from that time, clergy not licensed to parishes as incumbents or assistant curates signed as curate pro hac vice - 'for this occasion'). New registers were again issued after a further Act of 28 July 1812 (52 Geo III Cap 146). But the major change came in 1837, with the introduction of civil registration of births, and of civil marriage: see here for details of the local Registrars. All infants not previously baptized had to be registered, which led to a glut of baptisms on the days immediately before the Act came into force - 128 on 25 June, 148 on 28 June, and 225 of 30 June (a total of 501) - see here for more detail. There was opposition to the new Act from various quarters - see here for an example.

Christmas baptisms, weddings and funerals
Before working people had holidays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day were popular times for baptisms and weddings, often with a dozen or so of each, and sometimes there were also burials.

Fluctuating numbers - and who officiated?
The statistics below show the number of baptisms, weddings and (to a lesser extent) funerals varying markedly over time, and from year to year. The overall trend is of numbers rising sharply as the parish population increased, peaking in the 1830s with 1,000+ baptisms and 300+ weddings a year, reducing thereafter as our various 'daughter' churches were established, falling to about a tenth of that figure in the 20th century as the demography of the parish (including significant Jewish presence) changed, and continuing to fall in more recent years. But within that pattern there are sharp 'blips', in both directions, which may be attributed to the arrival or departure of a new Rector or of an energetic and efficient curate. (There are particular factors from 1859 onwards, first with the Ritualism Riots - which saw a big drop in weddings - and into the 1860s with the rise of the mission which became St Peter Wapping in 1866.)

On the whole, when assistant clergy were in post they officiated at baptisms, and to a lesser extent at weddings and burials (until the closure of the churchyard in 1854), rather than the Rector. However, even at the height of his troubles, Bryan King officiated far more often than previous or subsequent Rectors, except when he was away from the parish as a result of stress - including, in several years, a dozen or more Christmas Day weddings.

Unlike in some of our daughter churches, the number of baptisms has always far exceeded the number of weddings.

See here for a conference paper from 1880 by a former curate of St Paul Dock Street calling for further reform in marriage law and registration.



Baptisms

The first six registers are large volumes, on vellum, with single-line entries giving the first name of the child, father's name, surname and occupation, mother's name, coded street reference (no house number), and child's age in days.
Between 1729 and 1749 there were 8,471 baptisms. Volume 3 has marriages (1729-54) in the back (by turning the book over); the new book of 1794 is marked 'Christning [sic] Register'; volume 6 is half-full, replaced by a new register from January 1813 [see above], which specifies 'The Rector', 'The Lecturer' or 'The Curate' as officiant. Some of the later volumes are barely legible (though the 'day books' are in better condition), and because entries are not numbered the statistics below may be inaccurate (within a margin of up to ten per year).

Christian names
, for all social groups - the working classes, and the smaller number whose fathers are styled 'gentleman', or were professionals, ships' captains, customs officers and the like - are from a limited range, with Mary and Elizabeth predominating for girls (in 1757, all four candidates on 4 September were Elizabeth), and John and James for boys. However, local Danish influence is shown with a sprinking of Christian and Christiana, and in time German and other foreign names appear. Among the more unusual names are Protatia (the daughter of a brewer's clerk), Euphamia [sic], Lazarus, Fridesweed [sic] and the modern-sounding Dennis, plus some names from the Old Testament.

Almost all infants were baptized within a month of birth - often at a few days, without the mother present (she came a month later to be 'churched') - see the example above. Explanations are often recorded when the child is older (eg father died for a child aged 9 years). There are occasional adults (eg 1736, a servant approx 16 years; 1751, Temperance Reynolds, a girl of about 12 or 13 years from Bluegate Fields; 1752, Frances Summerset aged 52 years 10 months), with no suggestion of confirmation, or episcopal consent, which is the norm nowadays.

The main exception is for juvenile or adult 'negroes': for example, 2 in 1749, Captain William Cleveland's slave in 1750, and John Providence, a negro about 17 years in the same year; in 1751, Mary Mason, a Negro Servant to Mrs Wates in Princes Square; in 1757 Jane Daphnes, a Negro about 29 years; in 1759 George Middlesex, a Negro Slave belonging to [sic] Mrs Humes, about 14, plus Isaac Wells, a Negro about 24, and William Douse, a Negro of Princes Square about 22. When Herbert Mayo was Rector (1764-1802) he befriended the growing black community in the area.  

A
lmost all have two named parents, but there are exceptions, particularly for those born in or left at the workhouse, and for other foundlings, as well as for those simply described as a bastard child. Names given to foundlings include George Square; Charity base-born; Thomas Chance – 'dropped at W.H.' [workhouse]; Elizabeth Stone – 'dropped infant'; John Drop-Step – 'laid at W.H. door April 25 1784'; Sophy, Mary or Moses St George (various occurrences, e.g. 1755 Mary, a child dropt in the Back Lane);  others are simply listed as A stranger from the W.H.

The list of fathers' trades and occupations from this period makes interesting reading: it includes
Per(r)ukemaker, Periwig maker, Hartshorn-rasper, Cord-wainer, Tripesman, Cauker, Slop-seller, Ginger-bread-baker, Back-maker, Packthread Spr., Mathematician, Tides-man, Pump-maker, Muffin-maker, Letter-Courier, Oyster-meter, Breeches-maker.

Among the comments in the registers of the first century are
Civil registration (1837) is mentioned above; but according to William Quekett, even after this was introduced some parents did not stay to register baptisms, which is strange given that some still believed this could avoid civil registration fees. This pattern continued: for example, 27 Nov 1842 the parties left before registering the child born - BK [Bryan King]; 1850 the parties left without giving any further information, and as late as 1894 parents left without giving information.

Private baptisms (when a child was at risk of dying) were either rare or unrecorded until the 1850s. In 1829 an affidavit is included which states
John Anthony Curry of Walworth in the County of Sussex Gentleman and Mary Marr of North Street City Road in the County of Middlesex Daughter of the above married John Anthony Curry severally make oaths and say that they were present at the Ceremony for the Christening of John Woodall Hodgson and Alice Hodgson at the House of Captain John Hodgson of No.52 Great Hermitage Street Saint Georges in the said County of Middlesex on September one thousand eight hundred and two and these deponents further say that the Christening Service was read over and performed by the Reverend John Welchmann Wynn Assistant Curate of the Parish Church of Saint George aforesaid [from 1800-08]. And these deponents further say that they have searched the Books of the Parish Church of Saint George aforesaid and that no Certificate of such Christenings appears in any of such books.
Sworn at the Public Office, Lambeth Street, Whitechapel this 12th day of October 1829 before me, ?? Wyatt
This changed when Bryan King became Rector; he was scrupulous in recording these, and this period also saw some conditional baptisms, when there was doubt about the baptism of those being prepared for confirmation - a sign of the Oxford Movement's concern for sacramental regularity.

Pinned into the baptism register for 1850 is an address from local clergy expressing concern over the Gorham judgement (regarding the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, where a secular court presumed to rule on a matter of doctrine). See here for an example of a local clergyman for whom this was the trigger for leaving the Church of England - though he appears to have returned a few years later.

Baptism of those those born out of wedlock continued - e.g. 1855 a bastard from the workhouse, 1877 born out of wedlock, father unknown - and of foundlings: eg Boxing Day 1852 Bryan King baptized a girl simply as 'Catherine', and on New Year's Eve 1856 George Porter, left at the gate of the workhouse Nov 1856 being then apparently six weeks old. In 1846 the churchwardens alleged, in a 'presentment' published in The Times of 8 January 1847, that
we have been informed and I believe, that the rector had refused to perform the offices of the church for parishioners applying to him for that purpose; that, in particular, on the 11th of January last, several mothers of children went to the parish church from the workhouse te be churched and to have their children baptised, and that the rector and one of his curates refused to perform the offices for them, alleging as the fact was that they were unmarried, but not inquiring or ascertaining whether or not they were penitent.
But given Bryan King's sacramental views - and the fact that on many other occasions he baptized workhouse infants - this is unlikely; perhaps they had not gone through thenormal channels via the workhouse chaplain.

Mission chapel baptisms
A total of 1002 baptisms, including family groups with children of various ages, were conducted by the many curates of the mission chapels at St Saviour's, Wellclose Square (1857-68) and the Good Shepherd, Calvert Street (1857-66)
before the foundation of the new parish of St Peter London Docks. These were recorded in notebooks, and in due course most, if not all, were entered into the parish registers, and countersigned by Bryan King until he left in 1863, but they are not always in sequence, and the records are somewhat chaotic. These figures are included in the statistics below.

The second font
In 1877 a second font was installed in the church. A note in the 1877 register says The font in the North Aisle was first used in the Parish Church of St George's in the East on Sunday 17th June 1877  [Sidney Vatcher officiating]. This font formerly stood in the City Church of St Benet Gracechurch Street E.C., which Church was recently pulled down. [Harry Jones added] The font was taken to St Dionis Backchurch, and moved from thence to St George's in the East (H.J.) What was the reason for this? By then, numbers, though still high, were less than half those in early years of the century. As mentioned above, traditionally only (parents and) godparents attended; increasingly the mother was 'churched' on the same day as the baptism. But because baptisms were now being concentrated on Sundays (though not as part of the main service - a development that lay well in the future), and with up to 20 baptisms on each occasion, using the main church was more practical. See here for R.H. Hadden's 1880 comments. Nowadays diocesan Chancellors, following the House of Bishops' guidelines, would look askance on two fonts in a church. Right is a 20th-century baptism card.

Workhouse/Infirmary baptisms
St George-in-the-East workhouse, some of whose chaplains were also licensed as curates of the parish, maintained its own baptismal register, though confusingly some of these entries were also transcribed into the registers of the parish church and/or of St Peter London Docks (in which parish it was situated). From 1891-94 some baptisms, of children and widows, were administered at St Peter's - their address was given as 'St George's East, Stepney'. From 1893-1932, 402 entries were recorded by the chaplains - more details about them here.

Points of interest


Marriages

There were few 'society' weddings in the parish, but here is an example of one: Oct. 7th, 1775. The Right Honourable Elizabeth Countess Dowager Clancarty, of the Kingdom of Ireland, of this parish, widow, and Charles Caliste Anselme Macarty More, of the City of Cambray in French Flanders, and Captain in Barndick's Regiment of Foot: in the French service, now lying in the said city, bachelor, married by licence. R.H. Hadden, writing in 1880, said Now-a-days our marriages are quiet enough affairs. People often come without any parade or fuss, and now and then we have an unfortunate bridegroom who presents himself in his working clothes, and on the conclusion of the ceremony goes back to his work. I remember tying the knot for a young couple one cold snowy morning and half-past nine. When they came into the vestry, I made the remark to the bridegroom that he had got a nasty morning and chosen an early hour for his wedding. He put on a very injured air, and replied, 'I can assure you, sir, that it is at the greatest possible inconvenience that I have managed to get here this morning.

See above for details of how registration was improved in the 18th and early 19th centuries, with the officiant, the couple and two witnesses signing. From 1754 onwards, Samuel Bright, the parish clerk, was usually one of the witnesses, as (less often) were his successors, William Bailey and Thomas Harmer Lacon (including at the marriage of his own son). At this period the normal spelling of the groom's status was 'batchelor' (as in the printed examples at the front of the register books). Until the latter part of the 19th century ages were not routinely recorded - merely 'full' or 'minor' (in the case of those requiring parental consent - generally brides, but some grooms). Many couples and witnesses 'make their mark' rather than signing, but this becomes less common from 1820 (in comparison with our less-grand daughter churches where this continued until the end of the century); by contrast, others have elegant hands. German names appear regularly from the 1830s - see here for comment on this in relation to the other churches in the parish.

It was normal for couples to give the same address. This is not necessarily because they were 'living in sin' (though some undoubtedly were), but to fulfil the requirements of the legal preliminaries by taking up temporary 'residence' in the parish (differently defined for banns and for common licence) and obviating the need for preliminaries elsewhere. In the mid-19th century, Bryan King was a stickler for compliance with the rules: there are several half-completed entries where the marriage did not go ahead, e.g. 16 July 1848 (William Baguilley & Hester Mortimore) neither of the parties having lived in the Parish, they were not married; 25 December 1848 (Thomas Davis & Rosetta Clark Ray) neither of the parties having lived in the parish their marriage was refused. B.K.;  14 January 1846 by the admission of the parties the banns had been erroneously given in and published, and marriage was refused. B. King.

Though Bryan King was by nature scrupulous, the volume of marriages sometimes made compliance difficult. The above entries suggest that he may have become particularly careful after the 1846 'presentment' by the wardens - published in The Times on 8 January 1847  - alleging that he and his curates regularly married couples from other parishes, citing several specific examples, from Shadwell and Stepney, and also mentioning those within the newly-created district of Christ Church Watney Street - who may possibly have been entitled to be married at St George's at that period. They also mentioned a marriage on 5 April of a Stepney couple, where the man had a previous wife living, and who was taken into custody on a charge of bigamy. Their final grievance related to the following entry: it is not clear what action Bryan King took when this was discovered.

1845: George Brittan & Ann Buckley, 21 April - the banns had been published in these names - but at the marriage the woman in question was personated by 'Mary Murray' (or 'Murphy' according to the statement of the Mother). B. King, April 30 1845

When couples were married on feast days, Bryan King included this rather than the calendar date (a practice of doubtful legality), sometime scrubbing out the date inserted by others and substituting 'Xmas Day', 'Innocents Day' or (which may have surprised some couples) 'Feast of the Circumcision'; as noted above, he himself conducted a large number of marriages over the Christmas and New Year period. His curates continued this practice for a time, but added the calendar date as well.

Marrying a deceased wife's sister
This was an issue that excited the Victorian church! Although scripture recognises the practice (see Luke 20.27-44), and it was found at all levels of society, the Book of Common Prayer 'Table of Kindred and Affinity' disapproved of such marriages, and church law had treated them as voidable - in other words, subsisting until chellenged. But the 1835 Marriage Act had hardened the line, with an absolute prohibition, and debate on the issue continued until it was resolved by the 1907 Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act. As a result, there were several occasions, particularly in Bryan King's time, when such marriages, having been booked, and preliminary entires made in the registers, were refused: e.g.
For more detail on legal issues in relation to marriage past and present, showing that divergence between church and state is nothing new, see Scot Peterson and Iain McLean Legally Married (Edinburgh University Press 2014).

Points of interest

1782 / 1798: By the evidence of John Kidder no.52 Turnmile Street Clerkenwell Isaac Mason Deptford Bridge & Wm Davison no.7 Webber St Blackfriars the said Jane Morgan whom Sam Hands married the 31st Dec 1782 has lived in the habit of criminal intercourse with a Mr Seagrove since the summer of 1794 and eloped with the said Mr Deasgrove to America in the autumn of 1797
Witness James Cooper
Proofs of the above were exhibited to Mr Lacon Parish Clerk at St George's the 10 of Octr 1798 by Sam Hands
Witness James Cooper 20 Haughton St Clare Market
Thos Harmer Lacon Parish Clerk examined the written evidence from the above parties of which the above is a true copy. Oct 10 1798
[added in another hand] qu: why not exhibited to the Rector, in presence of the parish clerk

1799: George the Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland KING, Defender of the Faith and so forth [sic!]
To the Reverend Herbert Mayo DD Mary Austin Ann Redman and Mary Richardson Greeting.
We Command you and every of you that all other things set aside and ceasing every excuse you and every of you be and appear in your proper persons before our Right Trusty and well beloved Lloyd Lord Kenyon our Chief Justice assigned to hold Pleas in our Court before us at the Guildhall of the City of London on Wednesday the [crossings] day of April instant by nine o'clock in the forenoon of the same day
To testify the truth according to your knowledge in a certain Action now in our court before us depending between John Annis Plaintiff and Francis Wynne Defendant of a Plea of Trespass on the [? Crown] on the part of the Plaintiff and at the aforesaid day by a Jury of the country between the parties aforesaid of the Plea aforesaid to be Tryed, and this you nor any of you shall in nowise omit under the penalty of every one of you of one hundred pounds.
Witness Lloyd Lord Kenyon at Westminster the tenth day of April in the Thirty Ninth year of our Reign. WAY.

[second item]
Kings Bench: I give notice that at the trial of this cause you are required to produce the book of Registers in which is contained the particulars of a Marriage between Wynne and his present wife Elizabeth (13 April 1799)

1 May 1806: Warren Prickett & Mary Downey - 'This woman was educated in Mr Raine's Asylum, and drew, and received the Marriage Portion of £100. At the time of her marriage she was far advanced in Pregnancy, for she was delivered of a male child on the 19th of July following. In the Baptism Register - 19th September 1806, on which day the child was christened. A shameful fraud was artfully practised on the Trustees.' [see here for more details]

24 July 1809: William Brown married Eliza Chitty. He was born in Foxford, County Mayo, in 1777 and at the age of nine travelled with his parents to America, but his father died of yellow fever shortly after arrival, so William joined an American merchant ship as a cabin boy, and in due course became a sailor and gained his Master's ticket. He joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman, and was twice captured and escaped, from Metz and then Verdun. On reaching England, he went to sea again with the Merchant Navy and befriended Walter Chitty, from Deal in Kent, whose family was involved in shipping. Eliza was his daughter. They had nine children, and following the Palatine Pact raised the daughters in their mother's Anglican faith and the sons in the father's Roman Catholic faith. (This system was generally followed in Ireland until the Ne Temere decree of 1908. It forms part of the plot of Trollope's 1867/8 novel Phneas Finn.)

The couple sailed to Buenos Aires in 1810 in a ship belonging to Brown, which was lost to a privateer, but he managed to buy another and begin trading on the River Plate. In the ongoing war of independence, the patriot fleet had become weakened and Brown was invited to take command, which he did with great energy, becoming a Lieutenant Colonel. His flagship,The Hercules, flew a reverse saltire (a blue cross on a white background) from its previous Russian registration. Battles against the Spanish followed, the first on the island of Martin Garcia, a key site, where he boldly forced a royalist surrender (rallying his forces by instructing the band to play St Patrick's Day in the Morning); they withdrew to Montevideo. Admiral Brown set up an effective blockade there, and feocious fighting lasting three days ensued. Brown's leg was injured, but set on deck while he continued to transmit orders through a megaphone. The final destruction of the Spanish fleet was completed on 17 May, ever since known as the 'Day of the Argentine Army'.

Other defensive action of his adopted country followed and for a time he was governor of Buenos Aires. He is revered as the nation's greatest naval hero and one of its founding fathers. Returning to Foxford with his daughter at the height of the potato famine in 1847, when he was 70, he was shocked by what he saw and organised relief funds. He died in 1857, receiving the last rites from an old friend. On the centenary of his death the Argentine nation and navy donated a bronze bust to Foxford, where the anniversary of his death is marked each year on 3 March. There is a small museum there, and a memorial park opened by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD. The Admiral Brown Society runs a small museum in his birthplace of Foxford (where a copy of his marriage certificate is on display).  In recent times the Admiral William Brown Memorial Park was completed on the banks of the River Moy, and officially opened by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. There is also a statue on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin’s revamped docklands. 

We are grateful to Oliver Murphy, Public Relations Officer of the Admiral Brown Society in Foxford, for this picture and these details (condensed from a longer document).


1813: The Marriages are entered from this period in the New Register, provided in pursuance of the Act of Parliament (52 Geo: III, cap.146) passed the 28th of July in the year 1812

1817: entries record with the consent of the parish church of St Paul Shadwell, being taken down in order to be rebuilt, and no marriages solemnized therein
(another note in 1819 says until fit for public worship).
[By contrast, when St George-in-the-East and other local churches were blitzed in 1941, some marriages were transferred to St Paul Shadwell, until the temporary church ('St George-in-the-Ruins') was licensed for marriages.]


Non-Anglican Marriages
The requirement that everyone (except Jews and Quakers, for whom there were special provisions in marriage law) had to be married in an Anglican church was a matter of grievance for dissenters and Roman Catholics.
In 1820 the Unitarian minister William Johnson Fox married ('misguidedly', as it turned out) Eliza Florance at St George's and used his case in promoting a Dissenters' Marriage Bill to end this requirement - which was addressed in the 1836 Marriage Act. He was minister of South Place Chapel, Finsbury (originally, and again in later years, the Universalist 'South Place Ethical Society') from 1817-64, a journalist, campaigner and social reformer and MP for Oldham from 1847-63.

Personal stories

With our history of huge numbers of baptisms, weddings and funerals in past centuries, it's not surprising that we receive many enquiries from family historians from all over the world - which we welcome, expecially when they share something of their families' stories, and arrange to pay a visit! Here are just two examples.

James Carter (1828-1909), born in Whitechapel, married Jane Harrison at St George's in 1825 by Rector Farington. He trained for the 'mission field' at St Augustine's College Canterbury from 1851-52 and went to Australia, where he became prominent in the Sydney Archdiocese, with doctorates in divinity and law.
His great-great-grandson TImothy Carter is writing a biography for the Mitchell Library (the state library of New South Wales), drawing on a number of documents from the 1850s.

Here is is a moving story, provided by Bill Duxbury, about his grandparents. Lithuanians have again settled in the parish in significant numbers - but now as EU citizens.
A young Lithuanian bride
In 1908 Ona Peczkauskute was married here to Gurges (registered as 'Yurgis' - he could not write) Mazonas. They met on the boat: she was 14, he was 24. (At that time, the legal age of marriage was 12 for females and 14 for males, with parental consent required until 21; it was raised to 16 for both sexes in 1926, and the age of consent is now 18.) Between 1909 and 1936 she bore 13 children, the first dying young but most living to a good age -  5 are still living. Yurgis enlisted in the Labour Corps in 1935; Ona had to report regularly, as an 'alien', to the local police station, until Yurgis' death in 1959. She died two years later, aged 67.


Burials


Early arrangements for burial, in churchyard and crypt, are described here. Until printed registers were introduced in 1813, basic details were recorded in unnumbered register books, some of which are virtually illegible. From 1777 to 1800 the totals are recorded at the end of each year, noting the increase or decrease on the previous year, and the Rector Herbert Mayo signs at the foot of each page. His successors left the majority of burials to the curates.

A few entries have additional notes, e.g. 1731 Thomas Gartell - he gave a Master of Arts Hood to Ye Minister; 1735 Richard Leech, Master of the Workhouse; 1758 executed (in Blue Gate Fields), and again in July 1768
26th. Thomas Murray, glazier and coal-heaver, aged 29. 27th. Peter Flaherty, coal-heaver, aged 25. 28th. John Grainger, coal-heaver, aged 31, and David Clarey, coal-heaver, aged 23; executed in Blue Gate Fields. [Two more were hanged at Tyburn for killing a sailor, and seven were hanged at the same time for a riot and besetting Green's house at Shadwell with an intent to kill him - but were probably not buried here.]  Some were buried by Coroner's Warrant, e.g. 1821Visitation of God.

There were very many infant and young deaths, in tragic circumstances. There were two early instances of triplets who died a few days old: Mary, Christian, and Elinor, daughters of John Matthew Geydon, china-man, by Elizabeth his wife, baptized March 21, 1730; and Edward, William, and Mary, children of Henry Watwood, labourer, by Amy his wife, baptized Sept. 12, 1732. But a few lived to old age: Hadden records that between 1764 and 1792 there are forty burials of people over 90, several of 99, seven of over 100, and three of 104 - though this, of course predates accurate birth registration. Their details are here (scroll down to 'Instances of longevity'.)

The closure of the churchyard and vaults for burials is described here, and the register for 1854 notes
The Churchyard and vaults were closed for Interment by Order In Council under the Act of 15th & 16th Victoria cap.85. There were five further burials (marked # in the table below), by written consent of the Secretary of State for the Home Department:



Statistics  [gaps to be filled]


baptisms
weddings
burials
baptisms
weddings
burials

baptisms
weddings
burials

baptisms
weddings
1729*
218
40
411
1800
559
249

1871
264
98

1942
19

1730
480
48
745
1801
597
220

1872
244
82

1943
19

1731
518
61
594
1802
627
327

1873
310
104

1944
29

1732
518
72
595
1803
565
213

1874
366
104

1945
47

1733
519
55
728
1804
726
223

1875
447
113
1#
1946
66

1734
515
45
679
1805
734
198

1876
546
102

1948
44

1735
488
58
379+
1806
800
268

1877
537
80

1949
50

1736
395
65

1807
770
228

1878
649
93

1950
28

1737
497
54

1808
817
240

1879
621
99

1951
52

1738
457
50

1809
701
272

1880
843
86

1952
37

1739
445
48

1810
761
302

1881
547
92

1953
37

1740
388
41

1811
657
276

1882
610
91

1954
32

1741
385
33

1812
730
246

1883
466
98

1955
36

1742
335
42

1813
899
249
511
1884
474
62

1956
44

1743
387
40

1814
812
272
595
1885
469
63

1957
55

1744
403
44

1815
929
304
585
1886
408
71

1958
52

1745
348
46

1816
868
258
532
1887
428
52

1960
38

1746
381
45

1817
890
234
582
1888
449
62

1961
46

1747
377
35

1818
865
250
578
1889
401
68

1962
32

1748
335
38

1819
915
270
618
1890
374
73

1963
31

1749
399
50

1820
914
240
539
1891
360
63

1964
41

1750
397
36

1821
880
257
544
1892
357
81

1965
23

1751
436
26

1822
980
286
496
1893
305
61

1966


1752
374
34

1823
908
253
594
1894
304
30+

1967


1753
399
33

1824
1004
186
586
1895
260


1968


1754
372
79

1825
784
289
684
1896
289


1969


1755
376
65

1826
938
289
603
1897
277


1970


1756
357
91

1827
927
276
593
1898
294


1971


1757
385
114

1828
1091
298
640
1899
293


1972


1758
425
68

1829
907
258
676
1900
290


1973


1759
462
190

1830
1009
276
716
1901
227


1974


1760
407
187

1831
1013
303
681
1902
257


1975


1761
446
151

1832
1003
280
806
1903
203


1976


1762
436
172

1833
1037
264
707
1904
196


1977


1763
453
314

1834
1102
269
599
1905
168


1978


1764
528
196

1835
1012
287
514
1906
141


1979


1765
505
179

1836
1096
319
501
1907
132


1980


1766
458
186

1837
1738
372
715
1908
107


1981


1767
482
166

1838
1076
266
655
1909
84


1982


1768
476
135

1839
997
363
525
1910
108


1983


1769
493
182

1840
878
435
472
1911
68


1984


1770
504
157

1841
898
301
543
1912
63


1985


1771
480
187

1842
904
271
515
1913
64


1986


1772
520
165

1843
951
311
573
1914
62


1987


1773
476
163

1844
851
312
569
1915
45


1988


1774
442
153

1845
915
335
528
1916
39


1989


1775
515
184

1846
783
262
467
1917
28


1990


1776
536
172

1847
728
247
686
1918
35


1991


1777
505
156
450
1848
808
213
673
1919
35


1992


1778
434
148
474
1849
766
211
596
1920
80


1993


1779
475
154
523
1850
830
204
453
1921
44


1994


1780
525
171
476
1851
790
176
466
1922
49


1995


1781
504
178
570
1852
774
160
478
1923
56


1996


1782
562
284
441
1853
807
194
632
1924
52


1997


1783
540
229
504
1854
774
172
1007
1925
21


1998


1784
588
197
403
1855
669
212
2#
1926
81


1999


1785
554
196
408
1856
687
197

1927
53


2000


1786
580
522
547
1857
750
167

1928
58


2001


1787
560
185
488
1858
672
135

1929
61


2002


1788
553
106
480
1859
596
131

1930
66


2003


1789
531
215
470
1860
394+214
49

1931
52


2004


1790
529
204
432
1861
430+80
116

1932
47


2005


1791
640
231
456
1862
619+125
122

1933
57


2006


1792
640
231
506
1863
566+40
117

1934
58


2007


1793
589
243
488
1864
495+66
124

1935
45


2008


1794
620
257
390
1865
493
134

1936
54


2009


1795
540
228
504
1866
340
126

1937
47


2010


1796
680
230
480
1867
329
125
1#
1938
51


2011


1797
617
235
360
1868
291
115

1939
46


2012


1798
550
242
540
1869
293
83

1940
34


2013


1799
350
243
626
1870
314
101
1#
1941
16


2014



* from July


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