St George in the East

The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1795.

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'St George in the East', in The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795) pp. 425-436. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]


The parish taken out of Stepney.

This place was formerly a hamlet, belonging to the parish of Stepney, and was called Wapping Stepney. It was made a distinct parish by an act of parliament passed in 1727, when it acquired the name of St. George. To distinguish it from other parishes in and near London of the same name, an addition is usually made, which denotes its situation to be in the eastern suburb of the metropolis.

Its situation, boundaries, &c.

The parish of St. George in the East lies within the hundred of Ossulston, and is bounded by St. Mary, Whitechapel; St. John, Wapping; and by Ratcliffe and Mile-end Old-Town, hamlets of Stepney. The land, not occupied by buildings, is now of very small extent, consisting of a few grass-fields on the north side. The quota charged to the land-tax is about 2400l. which, anno 1793, was at the rate of 1s. 10d. in the pound.

The inhabitants are employed, for the most part, in rope-making, and the manufacture of other articles for the rigging of ships. There is no other considerable manufacture in the place.

Parish church.

The parish church (dedicated to St. George) was one of the fifty built pursuant to acts of parliament passed in 1710 and 1711. The foundation was laid in 1715; the ceremony of consecration was performed July 19, 1729. It is a stone building, of mixed architecture. The inside is fitted up with Dutch oak; the pillars are, for the most part, of the Doric order. Over the altar, which stands in a recess at the east end, is a picture of our Saviour in the garden, by Clarkson. It was bought by a subscription of the principal inhabitants when the church was repaired and beautified in 1783.

Tablets in the vault.

There are no monumental inscriptions in the church; but underneath is a spacious light vault, supported by arches, against which are tablets to the memory of the following persons: Mr. William Norman (1729); Thomas Trott, Esq. (1733); John Dagge, Gent. (1735); Joseph Crowcher, Esq. (fn. 1) (1752); John Bristow (1762); and Samuel Holman, Esq. (1793).

Tombs in the church-yard.

In the church-yard are the tombs of Thomas Evans, merchant (1730); Capt. John Hammerton (1732); Mr. Henry Raine (1738); Capt. Henry Allen (1740); Mr. William Thompson, surgeon (1742); Capt. John Basnett (1744); Olive, wife of Lach Machlachlan, Esq. of Amwell-Bury (1751); John Mewse, surgeon (1752); Robert Sax, Esq. (1759); Mr. Joseph Ames (1759); Capt. Henry Nell (1760); Capt. David Crichton (1761); Capt. Anthony Buskin (1764); Capt. Samuel Newman (1764); Hugh Roberts, Esq. (1771); Capt. Robert Oliver (1772); Capt. Thomas Evans of the royal navy (1775); Capt. George Dobill (1776); Capt. John Bonner (1778); Robert Sax, Esq. (1779); Capt. Charles Robinson (1781); Capt. Andrew Glassby (1782); Mrs. Elizabeth Woolsey (1782); James Watson, lieutenant in the navy (1783); Alexander Machlachlan, Esq. (1783); Capt. William Tweedall (1785); John Abbot, Gent. (1787); Joseph Lash, lieutenant in the navy (1787); William Duffin, Esq. (1793); and Capt. Thomas Randall (1793).

Danish church.

Monuments of Colley Cibber's mother, &c. &c.

The Danish church in Wellclose-square, was built by C. G. Cibber in the year 1696, at the expence of Christian V. King of Denmark, as appears by the following inscription over the entrance: "Templum Dano-Norwegicum intercessione et munisicentiâ serenissimi Danorum Regis Christiani quinti erectum—MDCXCVI." It is a brick structure; the form, an oblong square. At the west end is a turret. Within the church are monuments of the following persons: Jane, wife of Caius Gabriel Cibber (fn. 2), statuary to Frederic King of Denmark, and afterwards to Charles II. and William III. Kings of England; she was daughter of William Colley, Esq. of Glasson in the county of Rutland, grand-daughter of Sir Anthony Colley, and mother of the celebrated Colley Cibber—Ob. 1697. Her husband, Cibber the statuary, lies buried there also; Anne Penelope, relict of William Jackson, Esq. and wife of Herman Pohlman, merchant (1734); Herman Pohlman (1754); Christian Wegersloff merchant, Letitia his wife, and her sister Mary Collins (fn. 3) (no dates—the monument was put up in 1767); Anne, daughter of Magnus Teiste, and Mary, daughter of Daniel Tindal of Croydon, two former wives of Christian Wegersloff (fn. 4); Ambrosia, daughter of George Michelsen, and wife, first, of the Rev. Philip Julius Borneman; secondly, of John Collett (1740); John Collett, merchant (fn. 5) (1759); Elizabeth, wife of George Wolff, Esq. (fn. 6) (1770); and Claudius Heide, merchant (1774).

In the vestry is a portrait of the Rev. Mr. Branck, first minister of the church.

Swedish church.

Portraits in the vestry.

In Prince's-square is a church, nearly similar in form, for the Swedes, who, as well as the Danes, are very numerous in this parish. It was built about the year 1729. This church has no monumental inscriptions. In the vestry are several portraits, among which is that of Jacob Serenius, D. D. Bishop of Strengnes, the first minister of the Swedish church, a man of considerable learning, and author of a dictionary of his own language.

Independent meeting-house.

David Jennings.

At the bottom of Old Gravel-lane is a meeting-house of the Independents, on the outward wall of which is a monument with the following inscription: "Sacred to the memory of the Reverend David Jennings, D. D. upwards of 44 years pastor of this church, and 18 years tutor of a considerable academy for the education of young persons for the ministry among the Protestant diffenters. His learning, application, and confirmed health enabled him to adorn his station till ripe for heaven; and, his work finished, he fell asleep in Jesus Sept. 16, 1762, in the 72d year of his age, expecting the rewards of a celestial crown; leaving to his family, his pupils, and his flock, a deep sense of their loss, and a grateful remembrance of his virtues. He was born at Lancton in the county of Leicester, May 18, 1692; his father, the Reverend Mr. John Jennings, having been ejected from the rectory of Hartley Wasphell in Hampshire, for non-conformity, in the year 1662."

Dr. Jennings was a man of general science, and well known in the literary world; besides various sermons, and theological works, he published an introduction to the use of the globes and the orrery; a book on medals; and two volumes on Jewish antiquities, with a dissertation on the Hebrew language. In conjunction with Dr. Doddridge, he was editor of Dr. Watts's works.


There is another meeting-house of the Independents in the new road; there are also in the parish, a Roman Catholic chapel, a meeting-house for the Scotch Presbyterians, and three for the people called Methodists.


When this parish was separated from Stepney by act of parliament, as before-mentioned, the benefice was made a rectory, and the sum of 3000l. out of the money appointed by act of parliament (1715) for making a provision for the ministers of the new churches, was directed to be laid out in the purchase of lands, tenements, or other hereditaments in see-simple, for the maintenance of the rector of St. George and his successors. As a farther provision, the sum of 100l. per annum, clear of all deductions, was directed to be paid to the rector by the church-wardens out of the burial fees, of which they were appointed the receivers; any deficiency to be made up out of the parish stock. The great tithes were reserved to Brazen-nosecollege in Oxford. The sum of 50l. per annum to each of the two portionists of Stepney, at that time being, and 13l. to the parish clerk, was to be paid by the rector and parish clerk of the new church, as a compensation for the loss which the above parties might respectively sustain.


The first rector of St. George in the East was William Simpson, D. D. who, in the year 1764, was succeeded by Herbert Mayo, D. D. the present rector.

Parish register.

The parish register commences anno 1729, the year in which the church was consecrated.

Comparative state of population.

Average of Baptisms. Average of Burials.
1730–9 491 3/10 676 7/10
1764–9 4935/6 595⅓
1770–9 488 7/10 5161/5
1780–4 5433/5 4814/5
1784–9 5553/5 4583/5
1790 579 432
1791 640 456
1792 640 506
1793 589 488

The increase of population in this parish, since the year 1780, has been very considerable; the present number of houses is about 3700. The decrease of burials is to be accounted for from the more frequent interments in private cemeteries.

Extracts from the Register.

Instances of three children at a birth.

"Mary, Christian, and Elinor, daughters of John Matthew Geydon, china-man, by Elizabeth his wife, baptized March 21, 1730–1. Edward, William, and Mary, children of Henry Watwood, labourer, by Amy his wife, baptized Sept. 12, 1732." All these children died a few days after their birth.

Joseph Ames.

"Joseph Ames, Wapping-street, buried Oct. 14, 1759." Mr. Ames was a native of Great Yarmouth; he served his apprenticeship to a plane-maker, but settled in business as a ship-chandler and ironmonger. He discovered an early taste for the study of English history and antiquities, and being a man of an inquisitive turn of mind and assiduous application, made such a progress in his favourite pursuit, as enabled him to contribute much to the service of literature. Mr. Ames was chosen secretary to the Society of Antiquaries in 1741. He died suddenly, after a violent fit of coughing, Oct. 7, 1759. His principal work was a History of Printing, in one volume 4to. (since improved and enlarged by Herbert,) besides which he published a catalogue of English engraved portraits, and "Parentalia," or Memoirs of the Family of Wren (fn. 7). On his tomb, in the churchyard of this parish, is the following inscription: "Here lie interred the mortal remains of Mr. Joseph Ames, F. R. S. likewise fellow and secretary to the A. S. of London, author of the History of Printing in Great Britain, who died Oct. 7, 1759, aged 71." On the under side of the stone is this inscription, written by Mr. William Massey (fn. 8) : "Hic conditæ jacent reliquiæ mortales Josephi Ames, Regiæ Societatis Londinensis sodalis et Societatis ibidem antiquariorum secretarii qui antiquitatibus exquirendis studiosissime deditus, indefesso labore parique diligentiâ historiam apud Britannos typographicam per annos viginti quinque concinnavit, annoque "Domini 1749, in vulgum edidit. Modestiâ, probitate et benevolentiâ per totum vitæ curriculum sese gessit. Tussi tandem violentâ correptus, quâ tamen paulo post sedatâ, subitó sed placidé mortem obiit Nonis Octobris, A. D. 1759, suæque ætatis 71."

Joseph Reed.

This parish furnishes another instance of the union of literary pursuits with those of trade, in the person of Mr. Joseph Reed, an eminent rope-maker, whose father had followed the same business in the county of Durham. In a paper, which Mr. Reed contributed to a periodical publication (fn. 9), he gives a very whimsical, and entertaining account of his parentage and education. He removed into the neighbourhood of the metropolis in the year 1757, and settled in Suntavern-fields in this parish, where he remained till his death, which happened in 1787. About the time of his coming to town, he commenced his literary career by publishing some poems, which had no great merit; but he afterwards acquired considerable reputation as a dramatic writer. In 1758, he brought out his first performance of that kind, being a mock tragedy, called "Madrigal and Trulleetta," which engaged him in a controversy with Dr. Smollet. The Register-Office, and Tom Jones, were the most successful of his pieces. The latter was productive of much profit. His tragedy of Dido was received with great applause, but acted only three nights, in consequence of a quarrel with Garrick, who had at first refused it, and was with difficulty persuaded to bring it on the stage. It is much to Reed's credit, that he became afterwards, unknown to the manager, (although they had never been reconciled) his champion against Kenrick. These various publications were all the produce of his leisure hours; for he never suffered his literary pursuits to interfere with his attention to a lucrative business. It should be added, that he sometimes employed his pen upon commercial topics, having published a very useful book called the Tradesman's Companion; and a treatise on the monopoly of hemp. Mr. Reed lies buried in the cemetery at Bunhill-fields.

Instances of Iongevity.

During the incumbency of the present rector (who has kept the parish register with great accuracy, and has made all the entries in such a manner as is well calculated to identify the persons recorded,) the ages of the deceased have been regularly inserted in the register of burials, whence I have selected the following instances of longevity.

Date. Name. Residence. Description. Age.
Nov. 27, 1764, Sarah Barton, Church-lane, 104
Nov. 29, 1764, Richard Taylor, Hoare's Rope-walk, Smith, 92
Jan. 23, 1765, Geo. Hammond, John's-hill, mariner, 104
Jan. 30, 1765, Mary Mosely, Cannon-street, widow, 93
March 6, 1765, William Hopkins, RatcliffeHighway, corn-chandr. 92
June 13, 1765, Sarah Steward, Work-house, 90
June 16, 1765, Edward Gorman, Silver-street, 90
July 11, 1765, Wm. Maddocks, Artichoke-lane, attorney, 94
Nov. 10, 1765, Anne Allen, St. John Wapping, 92
April 19, 1768, Elizabeth Clark, Work-house, 98
April 26, 1770, Joseph Beale, from Hackney, 90
May 2, 1770, Wm. Davidson, Work-house, 95
Feb. 9, 1771, Eliz. Crompton, Johnson-street, widow, 91
Sept. 4, 1771, Elizabeth Harris, Pennington-street, 95
Mar. 26, 1772, Hannah Hopkins, Ratcliffe Highway, widow, 92
Nov. 29, 1772, Mary Daniel, Red Mead-lane, widow, 90
Feb. 21, 1773, Phœbe Colman, Ship-street, 94
Mar. 3, 1773, Elizabeth Lunt, Back-lane, 96
Mar. 6, 1773, Charlotte Rich, Wellclose-square, 96
Aug. 9, 1774, William Johnson, Bett's-street, weaver, 94
Mar. 29, 1776, Anne Ball, Work-house, 102
Oct. 8, 1776, John Ginks, RatcliffeHighw. customh.-ofr. 104
Nov. 5, 1777, Martha Faulkner, Blue-gate-field, widow, 100
Nov. 26, 1777, Barbara Cockburn, Milk-alley, 99
Dec. 3, 1777, Mary Taylor, Red Mead-lane, 95
Feb. 4, 1778, Elizabeth Baker, Glass-house-yard, widow, 91
June 10, 1778, Hannah Swift, Pennington-str. widow, 90
Dec. 27, 1778, Anne Alexander, Work-house, 96
July 22, 1779, Richard York, Prince's-square, gentleman, 95
Dec. 15, 1780, James Miles, Angel-alley, labourer, 102
Mar. 30, 1781, Margaret Kalley, Williams's-court, 90
Feb. 3, 1782, Elizabeth Barnet, Bett's-street, 95
Dec. 29, 1782, Alice Anderson, From Whitechapel, 99
Feb. 2, 1783, Marg. Liermont, Virginia-street, widow, 96
Aug. 22, 1783, Isabella Fennell, Work-house, 103
Jan. 24, 1787, Cuthbert Bowring, Reeding-row, 90
Apr. 18, 1787, Elizabeth Hall, Work-house, 92
Dec. 27, 1787, Timothy Driskall, Pearl-street, 99
Mar. 18, 1789, Sarah Robinson, Work-house, 90
Apr. 14, 1792, Margaret Lloyd, Old Gravel-lane, 90

Raine's charity schools.

Mr. Henry Raine, of this parish, brewer, having acquired a very ample fortune in business, formed the noble resolution of appropriating a considerable part of it, in his life-time, to charitable uses; in pursuance of which resolution, in the year 1719, he built schoolhouses for fifty boys, and fifty girls, with habitations for a master and mistress; and by his indenture, bearing date June 22, 1736, conveyed the said buildings to trustees, endowing them at the same time with lands and tenements of considerable value, and appointing a salary of 40l. per annum for the master, 20l. for the mistress; the remainder of the profits to be applied to the maintenance of the schools, and clothing the children (fn. 10). By the same indenture he gave the sum of 4000l. New South Sea annuities, one moiety of which was to be employed in building a second school-house, or hospital, for girls; the other moiety to be laid out in the purchase of lands for its maintenance and support (fn. 11). The last-mentioned school was, by a schedule annexed, appointed for the education of forty girls, to be chosen out of the most deserving in the old school, in order to their being better instructed for service. In this school the children are provided with clothes, lodging, boarding, &c. The salary of the mistress, and the cook's wages, were allotted to be paid out of the girls' earnings, which have been found more than sufficient for that purpose. The donor's relations are to be admitted into either of the schools in preference to all others, if any should offer. The boys, to be nine years of age; the girls, eight, at the time of their admission; the boys to be taught reading, writing, and arithmetick; the girls reading, sewing, &c. and all to be brought up in the principles of the church of England: the boys, at leaving the school, to have 3l. as an apprentice fee, which the donor intended, at a future time, to be increased to 20l. This augmentation will take place when the leases fall in.

Marriage portions.

Mr. Raine, by his will, dated October 17, 1736, desired that a patent, or charter might, if possible, be obtained for the regulation of the schools which he had founded in his life-time; and he directed his executors to establish a fund (fn. 12) for the purpose of continuing a most excellent charity, which he had planned and executed for some years before he died, viz. the payment of two annual prizes, of 100l. each, as a marriage portion, to be drawn for in Christmas week, and on the 1st of May, by six of the most deserving young women (being of the age of 22 or upwards,) who shall have been educated at his charity-schools; and the farther sum of 5l. for a dinner in the great room at the school-house, for the new married couple, the trustees, visitors, &c. The losing girls, if they should continue unmarried, and maintain a good character, are always to draw for the next prize till each has been successful. By the act of parliament, which was obtained anno 1780, for incorporating the trustees of Raine's charities, it is provided, that if there should not be six young women properly qualified, a smaller number may draw for the prize; if one only should offer, she (if of a good character) is to receive the marriage portion; if none should offer, the money is to go to the general stock. By Mr. Raine's appointment the husbands must be of the church of England, and inhabitants of the parishes of St. George in the East; St. Paul, Shadwell; or St. John, Wapping.


The poor of this place have an interest in Mrs. Cobourne's, and various other charities, left to the parish of Stepney previously to the year 1727. One of the pensioners in the Drapers', Judge Fuller's, and Capt. Cook's alms-houses, is always chosen out of this parish, which has the same interest also in that founded at Stratford-Bow, (anno 1721) by Mrs. Bowry, for sailors who have been in the East India Company's service, or their widows. The poor in Mrs. Bowry's alms-houses receive 13s. 6d. each, per month.

Various benefactions.

Mr. Henderson, anno 1701, left lands at Eastham to decayed house-keepers of the hamlets of Ratcliffe and Wapping-Stepney (now St. George). This benefaction produces at present 3l. 9s. to each place, clear of all deductions. Mr. Whatman, anno 1739, left the interest of 200l. South Sea stock, to be distributed in bread and meat on the 18th of December. Mr. Printon, anno 1765, gave 100l. to be distributed in bread on the 1st of January. Mr. Kirkman, anno 1765, gave the interest of 400l. 3 per cent. to be distributed in bread, meat, and coals, the same day. Jens Pederson, Esq. anno 1782, gave 200l. 3 per cent. for bread and meat on the 1st of August.

Universal medical institution.

A charity, called the Universal Medical Institution, was established within this parish anno 1792, being intended to afford medical relief to the poor, in various ways. All patients, from whatever place they may come, if duly recommended, and attending at the proper hours, (viz. from nine till one in the morning, and from three till five in the afternoon,) have advice and medicines gratis, and, if necessary, the use of cold, warm, and vapour baths; inoculation also is performed gratis,—patients within the Tower hamlets are visited at their own habitations. The house belonging to this Institution is situated in Old Gravel-Lane. There are already near four hundred and fifty subscribers. The Earl of Fife is president.


  • 1. Arms—Gul. on a pale Sab. 2 crosses patée, a martlet for difference.
  • 2. Arms—Gules, a sesse checky, Az. and Argent, impaling Arg. a cross wavy Sab. for Colley.
  • 3. Arms—Az. an embattled wall, and a vine tree proper, impaling Gul. on a bend Or three martlets Sab. for Collins.
  • 4. Arms—Wegersloff impaling Gul. a chevron Az. cottised Arg. between 3 mullets of 6 points Or, impaling also Arg. 5 mascles in cross and a chief indented Gules. The last is the coat of Tindal.
  • 5. Arms—Sab. on a chevron between three hinds Arg. as many annulets of the field, impaling quarterly Az and Gules; over all a fun in splendor for Michelsen.
  • 6. Arms—Vert. a wolf ramp. Or impaling Gules, three shackbolts conjoined in sesse-point Or, for Gorham.
  • 7. Gough's Life of Ames, prefixed to Herbert's edition of the History of Printing.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Published in the European Magazine for 1787, (p. 185, &c.) whence the above account of Mr. Reed is taken.
  • 10. When the leases shall have fallen in, the rents of these lands, &c. will be very valuable; at present, the school is supported, in a great measure, by annual contributions, and collections at charity sermons, in aid of the interest of 6000l. 3 per cent. Bank annuities, which is vested in trustees for the support of the school, or hospital, as either shall have need.
  • 11. Now producing about 300l. per annum.
  • 12. The sum of 4000l. 3 per cent. with the accumulated produce, amounting in the whole to 7000l. was appointed for this purpose out of the testator's effects, by a decree of the court of Chancery.