Southwark, London Borough Genealogy

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Guide to London Borough of Southwark history, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Southwark Cathedral

History[edit | edit source]

Coat of arms of Southwark Borough
Southwark Borough location within Greater London
Southwark Borough logo

The London Borough of Southwark in south London, England, forms part of Inner London and is connected by bridges across the River Thames to the City of London. It was created in 1965 when three smaller council areas were amalgamated under the London Government Act 1963. All districts of the area are within the London postal district. It is governed by Southwark London Borough Council.

Southwark is sited on a previously marshy area south of the River Thames. Recent excavation has revealed prehistoric activity including evidence of early ploughing, burial mounds and ritual activity. The area was originally a series of islands in the River Thames. This formed the best place to bridge the Thames and the area became an important part of Londinium, owing its importance to its position as the endpoint of the Roman London Bridge. Two Roman roads, Stane Street and Watling Street, met at Southwark in what is now Borough High Street. Archaeological work at Tabard Street in 2004 discovered a plaque with the earliest reference to 'Londoners' from the Roman period on it. Londinium was abandoned at the end of the Roman occupation in the early 5th century and both the city and its bridge collapsed in decay. Archaeologically, evidence of settlement is replaced by a largely featureless soil called the Dark Earth which probably (although this is contested) represents an urban area abandoned.

Southwark appears to recover only during the time of King Alfred and his successors. Sometime about 886, the burh of Southwark was created and the Roman city area reoccupied. It was probably fortified to defend the bridge and hence the reemerging City of London to the north. This defensive role is highlighted by the use of the bridge in 1016 as a defense against King Sweyn and his son King Cnut by Ethelred the Unready and again, in 1066, against Duke William the Conqueror. He failed to force the bridge during the Norman conquest of England, but Southwark was devastated.

Southwark appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as held by several Surrey manors. Its assets were: Bishop Odo of Bayeux held the monastery (the site of modern Southwark Cathedral) and the tideway – which still exists as St Mary Overie dock; the King owned the church (probably St Olave's) and its tidal stream (St Olave's Dock); the dues of the waterway or mooring place were shared between King William I and Earl Godwin; the King also had the toll of the strand; and 'men of Southwark' had the right to 'a haw and its toll'. Southwark's value to the King was £16. Much of Southwark was originally owned by the church—the greatest reminder of monastic London is Southwark Cathedral, originally the priory of St Mary Overie.

During the early Middle Ages, Southwark developed and was one of the four Surrey towns which returned Members of Parliament for the first commons assembly in 1295. An important market occupied the High Street from some time in the 13th century, which was controlled by the City's officers—it was later removed in order to improve traffic to the Bridge, under a separate Trust by Act of Parliament of 1756 as the Borough Market on the present site. The area was renowned for its inns, especially The Tabard, from which Geoffrey Chaucer's pilgrims set off on their journey in The Canterbury Tales.

In 1599 the Globe Theater, in which Shakespeare was a shareholder, was erected on the Bankside in the Liberty of the Clink. It burned down in 1613, and was rebuilt in 1614, only to be closed by the Puritans in 1642 and subsequently pulled down not long thereafter. A modern replica called Shakespeare's Globe, has been built near the original site. The impresario in the later Elizabethan period for these entertainments was Shakespeare's colleague Edward Alleyn, who left many local charitable endowments, most notably Dulwich College.

On 26 May 1676, ten years after the Great Fire of London, a great fire broke out, which continued for 17 hours before houses were blown up to create fire breaks. King Charles II and his brother, James, Duke of York, were involved in the effort.

There was also a famous fair in Southwark which took place near the Church of St George the Martyr. William Hogarth depicted this fair in his engraving of Southwark Fair (1733).

Southwark was also the location of several prisons, including those of the Crown or Prerogative Courts, the Marshalsea and King's Bench prisons, that of the local manors courts e.g. Borough Compter, The Clink, and the Surrey county jail originally housed at the White Lion Inn (also called informally the Borough Jail) and eventually at Horsemonger Lane Jail.

One other local family is of note, the Harvards. John Harvard went to the local parish free school of St Saviour's and on to Cambridge University. He migrated to the Massachusetts Colony and left his library and the residue of his will to the new college there, named after him as its first benefactor. Harvard University maintains a link, having paid for a memorial chapel within Southwark Cathedral (his family's parish church), and where its UK-based alumni hold services. John Harvard's mother's house is in Stratford upon Avon.

In 1836 the first railway in the London area was created, the London and Greenwich Railway, originally terminating at Spa Road and later extended west to London Bridge.

In 1861, another great fire in Southwark destroyed a large number of buildings between Tooley Street and the Thames, including those around Hays Wharf (later replaced by Hays Galleria) and blocks to the west almost as far as St Olave's Church.

The first deep-level underground tube line in London was the City and South London Railway, now the Bank branch of the Northern line, opened in 1890, running from King William Street south through Borough to Stockwell. Southwark, since 1999, is also now served by Southwark, Bermondsey and London Bridge stations on the Jubilee line. [1]

Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge all connect the City of London to the borough. The skyscraper Shard London Bridge is currently the tallest building in the EU. The Tate Modern art gallery, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Imperial War Museum and Borough Market are also within the borough. At one mile (1.6 km) wide, Burgess Park is Southwark's largest green space. [2]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

Nunhead Cemetery
Linden Grove
London SE15 3LP
Phone: +44 20 7732 9535

Camberwell Old Cemetery
Forest Hill Rd
London SE22 0RU
Phone: +44 20 7525 5600

Camberwell New Cemetery
Brenchley Gardens
London SE23 3RD
Phone: +44 20 7525 5600

Additional information on cemeteries and crematoria in the Borough can be found on the Southwark Borough web site as follows:

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes[edit | edit source]

Southwark Cathedral
Church address:
London Bridge
London SE1 9DA
Phone: +44 20 7367 6700

Christ Church
Church address:
27 Blackfriars Rd
South Bank, London SE1 8NY
Phone: +44 20 7928 4707

St George the Martyr
Church address:
Borough High St
, London SE1 1JA
Phone: +44 20 7357 7331

St Giles's
Church address:
Camberwell Church St
Camberwell, London SE5 8RB
Phone: +44 20 7703 4504

St George's Cathedral
Church address:
Cathedral House
Westminster Bridge Rd
South Bank, London SE1 7HY
Phone: +44 20 7928 5256

St Peter's
Church address:
Liverpool Grove
London SE17 2HH
Phone: +44 20 7703 3139

St James's
Church address:
Thurland Rd
Bermondsey, London SE16 4AA
Phone: +44 20 3643 2327

St Mary Magdalen
Church address:
193 Bermondsey St
Bermondsey, London SE1 3UW
Phone: +44 20 7357 0984

St John's
Church address:
73 Waterloo Rd
Lambeth, London SE1 8TY
Phone: +44 20 7633 9819

St Mary's
Church address:
St Marychurch St
Rotherhithe, London SE16 4JH
Phone: +44 20 7394 3394

St Saviour's
Church address:
118 Herne Hill Rd
Brixton, London SE24 0AH
Phone: +44 20 7737 4978

St Olave
Church address:
8 Hart St
London EC3R 7NB
Phone: +44 20 7488 4318

Christ Church
Church address:
90 Brixton Rd
London SW9 6BE
Phone: +44 20 7587 0375

Holy Trinity
Church address:
3 Bryan Rd
London SE16 5HF
Phone: +44 20 7237 4098

St Stephen's
Church address:
39 Walbrook
London EC4N 8BN
Phone: +44 20 7626 9000

St Margaret Pattens
Church address:
Rood Ln
London EC3M 1HS
Phone: +44 20 7623 6630

To contact the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, use the following link:

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

Other Christian groups follow:

  • Baptist
  • Christ Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Crossway United Reformed
  • Destiny International
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Methodist
  • Presbyterian
  • Roman Catholic
  • Salvation Army
  • Seventh Day Adventists
  • United Reformed

Non Christian faiths include the following:

  • Ba'Hai
  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Sikh

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

The northern end of the borough opposite the Square Mile includes the More London and London Bridge City developments accommodating the offices of major professional service firms. Notable businesses include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Norton Rose, Ernst & Young, Lawrence Graham and Actis. The Greater London Authority is based at City Hall.

The press and publishing industry is also well represented in Southwark; the Financial Times has its head office in Southwark Bridge Road, IPC Magazines in Southwark Street, and the Evening Standard and Daily Mail at Surrey Quays. Campus Living Villages UK also has its head office in the borough.

Some of the old industrial and wharfside heritage remains at the now defunct Surrey Commercial Docks now Surrey Quays, including Greenland Dock and Baltic Quay, where major residential schemes were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Near Tower Bridge old warehouses have been converted to new mixed uses at Butler's Wharf and Hay's Wharf. Similarly, further west, the Oxo Tower hosts restaurants, shops and housing.

There are major retail concentrations at Surrey Quays, Old Kent Road, Elephant & Castle/Walworth Road and central Peckham.

Finally there are a number of electronics companies active in Southwark. These include large companies such as Hughes Electronics, as well as smaller entities like G3 Comms Ltd., Telstra Global, and BAE Systems Ltd.


Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Southwark" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 9 June, 2018.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "London Borough of Southwark" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 9 June, 2018.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "London Borough of Southwark, economy" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 13 June, 2018.