Lewisham, London Borough Genealogy
Guide to London Borough of Lewisham history, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.
History[edit | edit source]
The London Borough of Lewisham is a London borough in south London, England and forms part of Inner London. The principal settlement of the borough is Lewisham. The local authority is Lewisham London Borough Council and it is based in Catford. The borough was formed in 1965, by the London Government Act 1963, as an amalgamation of the former area of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham and the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford, which had been created in 1900 as divisions of the County of London.
Because of the typical bureaucratic hacking of ancient boundaries all in the name of modernization, genealogists will need to be aware that older records could be found under the county of Kenty, as well as encroaching into the former environs of the previous Greater London.
The Prime Meridian (O degrees of longitude) passes through Lewisham. The former districts of Blackheath, Goldsmiths, and the University of London are located within the borough.
Lewisham was most likely to have been founded by a pagan Jute, Leof, who settled (by burning his boat) near St Mary's Church (Ladywell) where the ground was drier, in the 6th century. As to the etymology of the name, Daniel Lysons (1796) wrote:
"In the most ancient Saxon records this place is called Levesham, that is, the house among the meadows; leswe, læs, læse, or læsew, in the Saxon, signifies a meadow, and ham, a dwelling. A Latin legal record, dated 1440, mentions a place in Kent as Levesham which may refer to Lewisham. It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham." "Leofshema" was an important settlement at the confluence of the rivers Quaggy (from Farnborough) and Ravensbourne (Caesar's Well, Keston), so the village expanded north into the wetter area as drainage techniques improved.
King Alfred was Lord of the Manor of Lewisham, as is celebrated by a plaque in Lewisham Library.
The Manor of Lewisham, with its appendages of Greenwich and Combe, was given by Elthruda, King Alfred's niece, to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent, of which Lewisham then became a cell, or an alien priory. This grant is said to have been confirmed by King Edgar in 964, and by Edward the Confessor in 1044, with the addition of many privileges.
In the mid-17th century, the then vicar of Lewisham, Abraham Colfe, built a grammar school, a primary school and six almshouses for the inhabitants.
In the 17th century the Manor of Lewisham was purchased by George Legge, later Baron Dartmouth. His son William was raised by Queen Anne to several positions of honour and trust, and was a member of her privy council; and on 5 September 1711, was ennobled as Viscount Lewisham, and Earl of Dartmouth. His grandson George, Lord Dartmouth, obtained from King Charles II[he had been dead for ages] the privilege of holding a fair twice a year, and a market twice a week, upon Blackheath in the parish. The fair used to be held on 12 May and 11 October, but in 1772 it was discontinued, (except for the sale of cattle) by the Earl of Dartmouth, as lord of the manor. The village of Lewisham had its nucleus in its southern part, around the parish church of St Mary, towards the present site of University Hospital Lewisham. The centre migrated north with the coming of the North Kent railway line to Dartford in 1849, encouraging commuter housing. The Official Illustrated Guide to South-Eastern and North and Mid-Kent Railways of June 1863, by George Measom, describes Lewisham as follows: 'Lewisham Station, situated on the slope of an eminence admist picturesque scenery, beautiful green meadows rising abruptly to the summit of the hill on the left, dotted with handsome residences and gardens, while the Common is seen intersected by various cross roads and studded with country inns and houses on the low ground or valley to the right. The area of the parish is 5,789 acres... Lord of the manor, the Earl of Dartmouth to whom it gives the title Viscount'.
Lewisham was administratively part of Kent until 1889, and then formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London until 1965.
The town center was hit by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944: there were over 300 casualties including 51 fatalities, and it devastated the high street, which was fully restored by the mid-1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Center (opened in 1977). The plaque was on the pavement outside the Marks and Spencers store in the main shopping precinct. However, suffering wear and tear, the local authority arranged for it to be mounted to the façade. In 1955 Sainsbury's opened a store in Lewisham which was reported to be Europe's largest self-service supermarket, with 7,500 square feet of retail space, although the one now incorporated in the 1977 shopping center is much smaller. The area at the north end of the High Street was pedestrianised in 1994. It is home to a daily street market and a local landmark, the clock tower, completed in 1900 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The police station, opened in 2004 to replace the station in Ladywell, is officially the largest in Europe. 
Resources[edit | edit source]
Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]
Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery
113 Brockley Grove
London SE4 1DZ
Phone: +44 20 8314 3210
Grove Park Cemetery
London SE12 9PU
Phone: +44 20 8314 9635
Hither Green Cemetery
London SE6 1TW
For further information on cemeteries and crematoria in the Lewisham London Borough, please contact the following website: www.lewisham.gov.uk.
Church Records[edit | edit source]
Parishes[edit | edit source]
St Stephen and St Mark
Lewisham High St
London SE13 5AF
Phone: +44 20 8318 1295
191 Hither Green Ln
Lewisham, London SE13 6QE
Phone: +44 20 8852 5088
St Mary the Virgin
346 Lewisham High St
London SE13 6LE
Phone: +44 20 8690 3298
St Laurence Catford
37 Bromley Rd
London SE6 2TS
Phone: +44 20 8698 9706
Mary Ann Gardens
Deptford, London SE8 3DP
Phone: +44 20 8692 7449
Church of the Good Shepherd
Lee, London SE12 8NR
Phone: +44 20 8318 2363
St John's Vale
London SE8 4EA
Phone: +44 7786 160993
Blackheath, London SE13 5DL
Phone: +44 20 8318 9643
All Saints Dr
Blackheath, London SE3 0TY
Phone: +44 20 8852 4280
St Andrew the Apostle
Catford SE6 1XD
Phone: +44 20 8697 2600
Crofton Park, London, SE23 1PL
Phone: +44 20 8699 1277
St Michael's and All Angels
Sydenham SE26 4HH
Phone: +44 20 8778 4563
Non Conformists[edit | edit source]
Other Christian and non Christian religious groups follow:
- Christ Rock Ministries
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
- Roman Catholic
- Seventh Day Adventist
- The Bear Church
- United Reformed Church
Non Christian populations include:
Civil Registration[edit | edit source]
Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the UK government, from July 1837 to the present day. Previous to that date, records were primarily kept by local parishes, and by other ecclesiastical bodies.
Lewisham has its own Registry Office:
Lewisham Register Office
368 Lewisham High St
London SE13 6LQ
Phone: +44 20 8690 2128
Other useful sources follow:
- Kent County Council BMD records
- UKBMD: Lewisham Registration District
- BMD-Certificates: Lewisham District
Local Histories[edit | edit source]
Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]
- Google Maps: Borough of Lewisham
- Oldmapsonline: Lewisham
- Francis Frith: Old maps of Deptford
- Hidden London: Deptford Gazetteer
- Hidden London: Lewisham Gazetteer
Newspapers[edit | edit source]
- South London Press and Mercury
- Old newspapers: Lewisham
- The Independent: Lewisham Edition
- London Evening Standard: Deptford
Occupations[edit | edit source]
Lewisham borough is highly accessible to most parts of London. It is well located for access to markets and jobs in central London, Canary Wharf and other emerging development areas of the Thames Gateway, and southwards to Bromley, Croydon and the Gatwick area. The areas connectivity in terms of both transport and broadband is its most significant economic asset.
Lewisham’s local businesses are predominantly small or SME businesses, providing a ready demand for office space. The main sectors are retail, business services and construction, with a small but growing creative sector clustered around Goldsmiths, University of London and built around their graduates.
Goldsmiths, University of London together with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Lewisham College (one of England’s highest performing FE Colleges) create a strong HE and FE resource for the borough with significant potential as economic drivers.
There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in Lewisham with higher rates of self
employment in comparison to others in the region. However, business survival rates
are lower than the regional average and fewer businesses grow (in terms of
employment). Lewisham has the smallest proportion of residents working in banking,
finance and insurance and the highest proportion (39%) working in public
administration, education and health. Nearly 70% of working residents travel outside
of the borough for work, with the majority to central London. 
Lewisham Borough is a major location for employment in the commercial shopping arena. Lewisham's commercial area is one of the largest in south-east London. Lewisham Shopping Center, opened in 1977, has 70 stores and is over 330,000 square feet. Shops include Marks & Spencer, W H Smith, Sainsburys, H&M, TK Maxx, JD Sports, BHS, SportsDirect.com, Argos and Boots. The centre is between Molesworth Street (a dual carriageway section of the A21) and Lewisham High Street, but most shoppers enter and leave on the High Street. Lewisham Market and the Library are outside the shopping centre in the High Street. Since the Docklands Light Railway extension reached Lewisham, the centre has had an increase in customers. The centre is the major shopping centre in the borough of Lewisham. Also part of the complex is the Lewisham House office tower, the tallest building in the borough and formerly occupied by Citibank. There are proposals to convert this brutalist skyscraper to flats. 
Societies[edit | edit source]
Archives[edit | edit source]
- Lewisham Borough Archives
- The National Archives: Lewisham
- The National Archives: Deptford
- Kent County Archives
Websites[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Wikipedia contributors, "London Borough of Lewisham," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Borough_of_Lewisham, accessed 18 June, 2018.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Lewisham," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewisham, accessed 18 June, 2018.
- Lewisham Council Business plan, https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/mayorandcouncil/aboutthecouncil/strategies/Documents/LocalEconomicAssessment2012.pdf, accessed 21 June, 2018
- Lewisham wikipedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewisham,accessed 21 June, 2018