Pages 236-241

The Environs of London: Volume 3, County of Middlesex. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1795.

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The hamlet of Limehouse made a parish.


Hamlet of Ratcliffe.

In the year 1730 an act of parliament was passed (fn. 1), by which the hamlet of Limehouse, and part of the hamlet of Ratclisse, both appendages to Stepney, were made a distinct parish, now known by the name of St. Anne Limehouse, or St. Anne Middlesex; bounded by Mile-end Old-town and Poplar (both hamlets to Stepney), and the part of Ratclisse which remains attached to that parish. The boundary in Ratclisse extends along" the Butcher-row and Whitehorse-street. The division of Ratclisse which is annexed to the new parish has no farther connexion with it than relates to the payment of church rates and dues; it is still assessed separately to the other rates, and chooses its own officers.

Extent of the parish.


The parish of St. Anne Limehouse lies within the hundred of Ossulston; it contains about 150 acres of land not covered by buildings: of these about 10 are market-gardens; the remainder pasture, occupied by cowkeepers, whose stock of cattle amounts to about 180 (fn. 2). The quota paid to the land-tax is 1072l. 7s. 11d.; which this year (1794) is at the rate of 3s. 4d. in the pound.


The principal manufactures in the place are Mrs. Turner's of sailclothes, and Mr. Hall's of pot-ashes. The late Charles Dingley, Esq. erected a saw-mill of his own invention, which still exists, but has not been employed for many years. There are three dock-yards in the parish used principally for repairs. A navigable canal communicating with the river Lee at Bromley joins the Thames in this parish. It was made about the year 1769, pursuant to an act of parliament, and is called the Limehouse-cut.

Parish church.

Tombs in the church-yard.

The parish church, dedicated to St. Anne, stands in the eastern suburb of the metropolis, nearly four miles distant from Temple-bar. It was one of the 50 new churches built by act of parliament; the foundation was laid in the year 1712, and it was completed in 1724, but not consecrated till the 12th of September 1730. The building is of Portland stone, after a design of Hawksmoor (fn. 3), who has mixed with the Grecian a species of architecture which it would be difficult to describe; the turrets on the steeple resemble those which the same artist has introduced in the new quadrangle at All-Souls College in Oxford. The inside is fitted up in the Grecian style, and is very handsome; the pews are of Dutch oak. There is no monumental inscription in the church; in the church-yard are tombs in memory of the following persons: Captain Digory Hearle, 1734; Captain Francis Aiskell, 1734; Mr. Stephen Drayton, 1734; Captain Andrew Wootton, 1739; Joseph Woodward, surgeon, 1741; Captain John Watkinson, 1741; Captain Samuel Ingram, 1745; Captain Benjamin Mitchell, 1746; Mr. Richard Robinson, 1748; Robert Godwin, Gent. 1749; Captain Edward Nicholson, 1750; Captain William Coates, 1751; Simon Rogers, Esq. 1752; Mr. Mark Hodgson, 1753; Captain Richard Shubrick, 1756; Sarah, relict of Captain Thomas Stringer, 1756; Captain Cornelius Ronquest, 1762; Mary, wife of the Reverend John Saunderson, rector of Gouldington, Bedfordshire, 1766; Captain Edward Massam, 1767; Captain James Kemp, 1768; Mr. Thomas Simpson, 1774; Captain Thomas Farr, 1775; John Boorer, Gent. 1781; William Fitzhugh, Esq. 1783; Thomas Wellings, Esq. 1784; Captain John Lovelace, 1785; James Spragg, Esq. 1785; and Captain Benjamin Fowler, 1789.

Endowment of the rectory.

The sum of 3500l. (fn. 4) was granted by the act of parliament abovementioned, for purchasing lands of inheritance as an endowment of the rectory: with this money, Goshalme-farm in the parish of East Tilbury, and a farm at Orsett in Essex, were bought and settled upon the rector and his successors; who (by virtue of the act) were to receive also 601. per annum from the churchwardens in lieu of burial-fees, none being demandable by the rector unless when the service is read in the church. The above endowment, with the rent of the parsonage-house and garden, makes the value of the rectory 334l. (fn. 5) per annum, over and above surplice-fees for marriages, &c. By a provision in the act the rector of the new church was obliged to pay the sum of 25 l. each to the two portionists of Stepney then being, during their respective incumbencies, as a compensation for their loss of dues. The parish clerk was to pay 5l to the clerk of Stepney on the same account. The rectory of St. Anne Limehouse cannot be held with any other benefice. The principal and fellows of Brazen-Nose College in Oxford are patrons. The present rector is William Hunter, M. A. who was instituted in 1781.

Comparative state of population.

Average of Baptisms. Average of Burials.
1731—1740 144 3/5 195 1/2
1780—1784 163 4/5 202 4/5
1784—1789 156 161 4/5
1790—1794 158 164 1/4

The parish appears to have varied but little in its population since it was separated from Stepney; during the last ten years it seems to have decreased in a small degree. The present number of houses is about 910, of which about 250 are in the hamlet of Ratcliffe.

The following entries occur in the parish register:

Three children at a birth.

"John, Thomas, and Eleanor, sons and daughter (at the same birth) of Thomas Carnell, fisherman, and Susanna his wife, baptized Nov. 21, 1739." They were all buried on the 7th of December.

Instances of Longevity.

"John Vaines, lighterman, 90, June 26, 1761.

"Elizabeth Brown, 90, Dec. 17, 1763.

"Alice Edwards, 95, Oct. 26, 1764.

"Mary Harris, 90, Dec. 30, 1766.

"William Hamilton, 90, Nov. 27, 1767.

"Joseph Short, 94, Jan. 18, 1770.

"Anne Hone, 95, May 11, 1770.

"Mary Elbert, 90, Sep. 22, 1771.

"John Chase (workhouse), 93, Dec. 20, 1772.

"William Chapman, 100, Ap. 10, 1774.

"Elizabeth Berry, from Stepney, 97, Sep. 25, 1778.

"Mary Bowles (workhouse), 95, Oct. 14, 1779.

"Sarah Oliver (workhouse), 90, Aug. 5, 1781.

"John Howard, 90, Feb. 20, 1782.

"John Boyd, ropemaker, 96, Feb. 1, 1791.

"Catherine Dixy (workhouse), 98, Ap. 10, 1791."

Charity schools.

A former school, instituted in the hamlet of Poplar, having been dropped some years, Dr. Gloster Ridley, in the year 1737 (being then minister of the chapel there, and lecturer at Limehouse), set on foot a subscription for an united charity-school, in which poor children of both places should receive the advantages of education. This school still continutes. Its only endowment consists of a few legacies (fn. 6). An ample annual subscription, with collections at charity sermons, raise an income sufficient for clothing and educating 50 boys.

Another charity-school for boys and girls, of this parish only, was instituted in 1779. In this school 35 girls and 15 boys are clothed and educated. It depends principally (fn. 7) for its support, as the other does, on annual subscriptions and collections at charity sermons.

Various benefactions.

William Geer, anno 1632, gave 5l. per annum to poor seamen in this place. William Curtis, anno 1669, gave 6l. per annum to apprentice two poor children, and another 6l. once in two years, to be divided among 12 paupers of this place, on the alternate years to be appropriated to the redemption of poor captives. Captain Edward Johnson, anno 1671, gave a house, now let at 20l. per annum, to the poor of Ratcliffe and Limehouse, in equal portions. This parish receives, pursuant to a decree in Chancery, bearing date 1733, 12s. in the pound out of one moiety of Priscilla Cobourne's estates, left to the parish of Stepney. The poor of this parish are entitled also to one tenement in Mr. John Pennell's alms-houses for poor women at Mile-end, two in Judge Fuller's for old men at the same place, and one in Captain James Cook's; the latter has no endowment. The pensioners in the others receive 4l. per annum each, a gown, and fuel. Elizabeth Colbert, anno 1631, gave the sum of 50l. to the corporation of the Trinity-house, on consideration of their paying 2l. 5s. per annum to the poor of Limehouse.


  • 1. 3 Geo. II. ch. 17.
  • 2. Foot's Agricultural Survey of Middlesex.
  • 3. Anecdotes of Painting, vol. iv. p. 43.
  • 4. Issuing out of the produce of a duty laid on coals, for the purpose of building and endowing the new churches.
  • 5. Maitland, anno 1739, values the living at 240l. per annum, including the surplice-fees; p. 748.
  • 6. Richard Robinson, a° 1748, bequeathed 50l.
    Susanna Mackey, 1765, 40l.
    Shearman Godfrey, 1765, 100l.
    John Robinson, 1778, 100l.
  • 7. Mr. Thomas Hearle, in 1748, gave 50l. to this school. Mr. Benjamin Ansell, 1783, 20l. Capt John Lovelace, 1785, 200l. Mrs. Parks, 1788, 5l. 5s.