Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network


I was hoping someone could help me better understand the location in which I found my gg-grandfather's family (found thanks to Caroline Bradford - Charles W. Metcalfe, Charlotte, Charles H. and George T.) on the 1861 census. I've attached a jpeg image of the sheet.

Although it seems clear that the Parish is St. Bride, City of London, Municipal Ward of Farringdon Without, I'm not sure how those all relate to each other. I have five questions:

1. According to Ancestry, the county was Middlesex. But according to, the county was London. Wikipedia (of which I am often skeptical) said that London was in Middlesex until 1889, when London became a county itself, which would put the London of 1861 in Middlesex. What’s correct??

2. Can anyone make out the street name on the sheet? I think it is Harp Alley, but I'm really not sure.

3. I'm confused about how to express the location in my records. Of course, I’m used to the method of listing locations from smaller division to larger, so with U.S. locations it’s [city or town], [county], [state], [country]. I’m just not sure how that translates. Would it be Farringdon Without, London, Middlesex, England? Or would it be St. Bride, London, Middlesex, England? Or something completely different?

4. Can anyone recommend any reliable resources (online or otherwise) for when I have these questions in the future? I’m ordering civil birth and marriage records for this family, so I see further confusion ahead.

5. This has nothing to do with the location: I'm trying to read the occupations for Charles and Charlotte Metcalfe & I can't make out the 3rd word of his and the 2nd & 3rd of hers. His is Book Binder [ ] and hers looks like Infant [ maybe "School"? ] [ ]. Also, just to double check, I read Charles W. and George T.'s birthplace as Middlesex St. Marlylebone, Charlotte's as Nottingham [ ], Charles H.'s as Surrey Brixton.

Whew! That's a long one! But I appreciate any help you can provide.


Views: 414


Replies to This Discussion

Hi Kathleen
I cannot make out the 3rd word in Charles' occupation
Charlotte's occupation is infant school mistress and her place of birth Nottinghamshire N.K. (i.e not known, meaning she didn't know where in Nottinghamshire she was born) The other birth places you have read correctly, also the address 5 Harp Alley. The full address is 5 Harp Alley, St Brides, London, England.
Until 1899 when county councils were established in England, London strictly referred to the City of London, a 1 square mile area of what is now central London and which incuded the parish of St Bride's. The rest was Middlesex (north of the River Thames) or Surrey (south of the Thames). There is much confusion in census returns as how to record the city of London and many people will say London, Middlesex.

Hope this helps

That helps a great deal - thank you, Carolyn! It's always nice, when peering at handwritten records, to get a second opinion. Especially when you have limited points of reference in your own experience.

So - if I understand, St. Brides is the important "smallest" piece of the location name, and the ward, Farringdon in this case, is not significant?
Hello Kathleen,

What we know today in general as London was prior to 1899 in 3 different counties. Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent. Some parts of Essex were also in what is now Outer London.
Sometimes, one street belonged in one admin county/division, the next one to it in another. As in other parts of England, civil admin areas and parishes did not necessarily correspond completely with eccliastical parish areas. ie Deptford and Greenwich So, yes, very confusing particularly when you are trying to find who holds the records for a particular place.
In the 20th century further amalgamations and separations took place which further confuses things. I would record as St. Bride, Middlesex, London, England which is how I record my London ancestors.
When it comes to ordering Civil certificates the only way to get the correct one is to quote the Registration District and number. ie. for my great aunt "Births Dec 1907 Saunders Jane Louie Greenwich 1d 946." She was actually born in a street in Deptford.

Charles' occupation is Book Binder Finisher. I agree with Carolyn about the other occupation.

Excellent! Thank you, Victoria.

Now that you've ID'd it, I can recognize that as "Finisher." And now that I've recognized the long s at the end, I also agree with you and Carolyn about Charlotte's occupation. Now, all I need to do is ask my dad just what a Book Binder Finisher does. I can guess, but my dad did some book binding in school & should be able to shed more light.

I think I have what I need to order the civil certificates for the family - again, thanks to Caroline Bradford. Charles and Charlotte's marriage should be Sep 1855 Lambeth 1d 346; Charles Henry's birth should be Sep 1856 Lambeth 1d 342; and George Thornton's birth should be Mar 1859 Marylebone 1a 468. (By the way, am I correct in understanding that Brixton is part of Lambeth?)

I'm still trying to see if I can find out more about the daughter that I think was born later in 1861. She was on the ship's manifest as a 3 year old when they came from London to New York in January 1865, but that was the first I knew about her. Her name on the manifest looks like "Bertie," which is annoying, because I can think of almost 10 girl’s names that could be shortened to Bertie – and that’s assuming that it was short for her first name, or even based on her name at all.

Always an adventure, isn't it?


Hi Kathleen,

"Bertie" was actually a boy.  His name was Charles Albert Wilson Metcalfe (D.O.B. 01 DEC 1862 St Bride, Death 1865 - Probably soon after arriving in the States on the E.W. Stetson on 13 JAN 1865)

Hope this helps.  Please reach out to me if you get this.  I'd love to compare notes!


Your long-lost cousin, John Patrick Metcalfe

Hi Kathleen

Now Victoria has given Charles' occupation I can see the word Finisher, before all I could get was

Farringdon would have been a civil adminstration ward, St Brides was the ecclesiastical parish and as such was the one recorded. The City of London had its own civil administration but ecclesiastically I guess it came under Middlesex - I am not totally sure and I was born in London. I think the important thing is to be consistent in how you record whether you use London, or London, Middlesex or Middlesex, London. I looked at findmypast and they record the address as St Brides, London, Middlesex.

Hope I haven't confused you further
No, your comments definitely added some additional clarity, Carolyn. We struggle with some of the changing place name issues in the States, too, and we've been around a lot less time.

Thanks again,
When I am recording addresses from census and other records, I tend to use Bermondsey, Surrey (now London), or Fulham, Middlesex (now London)

I find it easier that way.
Thank you for adding to the discussion, Irene!


If you go to  , a very usefiul and interesting site, and look at the maps in the shop you will find the Ecclesiastical Map-County of London 1903  which is a good investment if you have London ancestors

I would record the City of London as London and the rest of the greater London area as London followed by County (Middlesex, Kent, Surrey) 1899.







© 2019   Created by Nat Ins for Genealogical Studies.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service