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Description in 1842

"The metropolis of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland ... extends from Woolwich and Bow to Fulham and Hammersmith, and from Highgate to Norwood, including the cities of London and Westminster, with their liberties, and the towns, parishes, &c. &c. which cover this vast area. The streets of the city, with the exception of the great thoroughfares, are for the most part narrow and irregular; but the main lines of traffic and communication are wide and noble, as are the more recently built parts of this enormous city... The public edifices are innumerable, and for magnificence may vie with those of any city in the world... The prodigious docks, with their immense bonding-warehouses... convey the notion of wealth and commerce completely stupendous... By means of the river, London ranks as the first port of the kingdom... The squares, which are usually ornamentally planted, are of great advantage to some districts, in regard to health. But the parts of the metropolis inhabited by the poorer classes, are yet the prolific sources of disease; and the retention of Smithfield market and the slaughter-houses in the very heart of London must also be noticed as a heavy drawback on the health, safety, and even morality of the city... The city of London is under the control of a corporation, of enormous wealth; whose practical inefficiency, and steadfast resistance of all reformation or change, are matters of painful notoriety. Population, London (within the walls), 54,626; (without the walls), 70,382. Total metropolitan, 1,873,676." (From Barclay's Complete and Universal English Dictionary, 1842.)

City of London, County of London, ancient counties

"London City is a County in itself and is divided into Wards whose boundaries do not coincide with those of the parishes in the City. In 1889 the Administrative County of London was formed from the City of London, and parts of Middlesex, Kent and Surrey and was divided into boroughs. In 1963 this County was replaced by Greater London which also took in the rest of Middlesex and parts of Essex and Herts as well as some county boroughs. New London boroughs were then formed." [T.V.H. FitzHugh, The Dictionary of Genealogy, 1994.]

There is thus a considerable overlap in the coverage of London and in particular Middlesex on this server. And even this complicated description doesn't give the full story, as parts of Middlesex went to Surrey and Hertfordshire. However, following the practice adopted in the LDS Family History Library, parish-level information will be provided here only for parishes belonging to the City of London, leaving parishes from elsewhere in the Greater London area to the Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire pages as appropriate.


Archives and Libraries

Aside from such essentially national institutions as The National Archives, the British Library, the Society of Genealogists, the Institute for Historical Research, and the Principal Probate Registry, London has many specialised major libraries and archives, such as:

London Boroughs - Archives and Local Studies Libraries: we have links to web sites of each London borough, and to their archives or local studies libraries.

Also see:

Access to Archives - in progress -
Campaigning London is a London regional A2A project. Led by the Greater London Archives Network and delivered by London Metropolitan Archives, the project will retroconvert 15,000 catalogue pages relating to the archives of many London-based charities, pressure groups and community organisations from 1620 to modern times, held in London Metropolitan Archives and the following repositories: the borough archive services of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Sutton and Westminster; the archives of King's College and of Save the Children; and the Women's Library.
Saints and Sinners is contributing catalogues of diocesan archives from 8 repositories in London and the South East, and includes material relating to various deaneries in the dioceses of Rochester and Guildford (London Metropolitan Archives).

AIM25 - Archives in London and the M25 Area - "is a major project to provide electronic access to collection level descriptions of the archives of over fifty higher education institutions and learned societies within the greater London area."

Outside London, the Institute of Genealogical and Heraldic Studies, in Canterbury, Kent, provides an online list of their library resources relating to London and Middlesex (pdf).


For a general bibliography see London's Past online, a bibliography produced by the Centre for Metropolitan History in association with the Royal Historical Society Bibliography.

We give below some specific genealogy books about London. Books in print are grouped by publisher in this list, with links to their websites.

GENfair, the Federation of Family History Societies "One-Stop Shop" for Family and Local Historians.

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section - Publications - includes:

Society of Genealogists

West Surrey FHS Research Aids - over twenty of these deal with London and Middlesex - a mass of information - includes:

Pan Macmillan Publishers


The best list of cemeteries where ancestors may have been buried within the area of the County of London seems to be I M Holmes Return of burial grounds in the County of London 1895, which lists all burial grounds then existing in the County. Copies of the book are held at the Guildhall Library and LMA.

A scanned copy of a Catalogue of of the tombs in the churches of the City of London AD 1666 is in the Internet Archive.

Websites with information about several cemeteries
The Magnificent Seven - large cemeteries established 1832-1841

Until the 19th century most parish churches had an adjacent churchyard. These became over-full, and there was a public outcry. Between 1837 and 1841 Parliament authorised seven commercial cemeteries. Links given are to the Friends organisations - which in many cases are transcribing and indexing the memorials or the burial registers. For information about these and similar organisations see National Federation of Cemetery Friends

Other large cemeteries


See the Middlesex Census page for general information and details of indexes and facsimiles covering Middlesex and the City of London. See the Kent and Surrey pages for details of indexes for those areas. The following is a partial list of indexes for the London area south of the Thames:

Church History

Church Records

See separate page.

Court Records

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey London 1674 to 1834 from the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire, a fully searchable online edition of accounts of over 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. Includes links to maps, and the manuscript sessions papers (which include witness and defendant statements made before the trial took place) and the Ordinary's Accounts (biographies of convicted felons compiled just before they were executed).

The Consistory Court of London was a church court with jurisdiction over much of London and Middlesex as well as parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. It heard cases involving matrimonial matters (including divorce and separation), breach of promise, probate disputes and defamation. The Society of Genealogists has published an index for the years 1700-1713, and an online version is available on British Origins with a useful explanation of the structure of the records.

Civil Registration

Correctional Institutions

Over the years London has had many prisons and similar institutions. There were Compters to hold debtors both within the City and outside it, in Southwark and Middlesex. At various times there were prisons at Ludgate, Newgate, the Fleet, Temple Bar, and Bridewell, and there were medieval prisons at St Martin Le Grand, and Tun upon Cornhill.

Description & Travel

There are several surveys which give descriptions of the living conditions of Londoners in the 19th century:

London has many disused and lost stations, some of which are described on Subterranea Britannica's Disused Stations web page, and their Disused London Underground stations page.


University of Leicester Digital Library of Historical Directories - searchable by surname online - includes for Middlesex:

Elizabeth Burton provides on-line these transcripts:


Also see Bibliography and Maps




Books: there are thousands of books about London history, here are a few.

Your Old Books and Maps CDROMs include "Medieval London and Old St. Pauls cathedral" and are preparing 1909 and 1920 guides to London.

The Medical Heritage of Great Britain website of the Bath & Wessex Medical History Group has a page on locations in Greater London relating to medical history

Jewish Records

Land and Property

Sun Fire Office policy registers 1816-1833 are held at Guildhall Library and searchable on a2a (Access to Archives) - choose Guildhall Library as location, or "A place in the Sun" as A2A theme. You can search by names of people, institutions, streets, place names and occupations. The index covers the registers of the Sun's London office, which cover mainly London properties. For this reason, street names only are given for most of the entries and London can be assumed where no county is given. A few country properties are also included.

Mike Durtnall's Historical Manuscripts Pages ( has information about many descriptions of historical documents taken mainly from online auction catalogues, including nearly 2000 referring to London or Middlesex. [At times this site has only been intermittently available. You may find an old version on the Wayback Machine.]

Family Deeds provide abstracts of old deeds and documents sold on the open market. They have pages for deeds referring to places in London and Middlesex.


Medical Records

Records of over 100,000 patients admitted between 1852 and 1914 to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, its convalescent home at Cromwell House, the Evelina Hospital (now part of Guy's and St Thomas's) and the specialist Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease are available online at the Historic Hospital Admission Registers Project (HHARP) website. The precise periods differ between the institutions.

The former County Asylums website had information about the local authority funded mental hospitals in London (both the City of London and the 1889-1963 London County Council) and in Middlesex.

Simon Forman, the notorious London astrologer, recorded 10,000 consultations between 1596 and 1603. Most of these are medical. Forman's casebooks can now be searched by name (of any party involved), date, sex, age, topic of consultation and many other criteria. The edition includes images of all the manuscript pages of Forman's first volume, and more will follow. They are available from the Casebooks Project at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Cambridge

Names, Personal



Orphans and Orphanages

Politics and Government

The City of London is governed by the Corporation of London which is run by the Lord Mayor and 132 members elected from 25 voting districts or "wards". Each ward elects an alderman and between 4 and 12 members depending on its size.

The wards are:

Bread Street
Bridge and Bridge Without
Broad Street
Castle Baynard
Coleman Street
Farringdon Within
Farringdon Without
Lime Street

From 1550 to 1899 there was a 26th ward of Bridge Without, as the Borough of Southwark was partly under the jurisdiction of the City of London, but this ward only had an appointed alderman and no common councilmen. It was merged with the ancient ward of Bridge, alias Bridge Within, to form the current ward.

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Postal, Shipping and Similar Guides

Probate Records

"Pre-1858 Wills are found at the following repositories: the GLRO [now LMA] for those provided at the Consistory Court of London, the Commisary Court of Surrey and the Archdeaconry Courts of Middlesex (Middlesex Division) and Surrey; the Guildhall Library for those proved at the Commisary Court of London (London Division), the Archdeaconry Court of London, the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's and the Royal Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower; the Corporation of London Record Office for those proved at the Court of Hustings; at Lambeth Palace Library for the Peculiar Courts of the Deaneries of the Arches and of Croydon; and at Westminster Library for the Royal Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Wills were also proved at the Consistory of Winchester and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury." [T.V.H. FitzHugh, The Dictionary of Genealogy, 1994.]

Schools and Universities

The University of London has placed online lists of all officials, teachers, graduates and undergraduates from its foundation in 1836 up until 31 March 1901, as published in 1890, 1899 and 1901, and a list of all University of London graduates up to December 1932.


The City of London is covered by

The following societies cover areas that fall within Greater London:

The following Societies cover areas which include parts of Greater London:


Coal Tax Posts as previously described on the Corporation of London website "were erected under the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act, 1861, but some were originally set up under earlier nineteenth century Acts. The duties whose area of application they marked out originated in the seventeenth century and earlier.The Corporation of London had exercised the right of 'metage' (measuring) of coal and other commodities since mediaeval times and these rights were confirmed by two Charters of King James I. The City was later permitted to set up "a Boundary Stone, or some other permanent Mark" where any turnpike road, public highway, railway or canal entered the District. The surviving boundary marks define the London district after it was changed in 1861." The website gives details of the duties and posts, and gives a list of the remaining posts around London.

Lay Subsidies were medieval taxes (see a brief description of them), whioh often included compilations of lists of names. Published lists for London include:

A 1638 list of tithe-payers has survived in Lambeth Palace Library and was published as Dale TC (ed.) (1931) The Inhabitants of London in 1638. London: Society of Genealogists. It is Now available at British History Online.

The Hearth Tax returns for London 1662 and 1666, Westminster 1664 and Middlesex 1666 have been transcribed by the London Hearth Tax Project and are available via British History Online.

In 1694 an act was passed to levy taxes upon burials, births and marriages and annual dues upon bachelors over 25 years of age and upon childless widowers. As a consequence lists were prepared in 1695 of:

Returns for 17 parishes do not survive, but an attempt has been made to fill the gaps using tax assessment of similar date, and an index published as "A Supplement to the London Inhabitants List of 1695 Compiled by Staff at Guildhall Library" in Guildhall Studies in London History Vol. 2, Nos. 2 (surnames A-M) and 3 (surnames N-Z and trades) (April and October 1976).

Land Tax was levied 1692-1932. Ancestry have indexed the records held at LMA, covering the City of London, Middlesex (including most Westminster parishes), and some parishes in Kent and Surrey. A description is given in a copy of a leaflet from LMA, though this out of date in some respects.

Visitations, Heraldic

Visitations by the Heralds were designed to record the pedigree of armorial families and to confirm their right to bear arms. There is a good guide to them on Chris Phillips' Medieval English Genealogy site. Several of the visitations of London have been published:

(NB If you find you cannot view the Google Books, try the suggestions of the Medieval Genealogy website.)

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[Originally created by David Hawgood. Last updated 07 Jan 2014 by Andrew Millard.]

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