Did your ancestors live in 17th century London?

If so they may appear in a new set of records that has just been added to SoG Data Online. The records were originally transcribed by Ralph Hall, a member of the Society from 1956 until his death in 1998, who compiled extracts (in pre computer days) from the London Gazette and other 17th Century sources. These extracts were prepared on his manual typewriter into a street by street listing of Londoners, and give not only name rich genealogical resources for family historians to draw upon (and there are some 20,000 names in the database) but also an insight into London life and trade in the 17th Century . Mr Hall’s notes have now been meticulously entered into a searchable database by Valerie Morris (formerly Scadeng) and it is this database that can be searched online.

The extracts list, for example, the many traders and merchants who lived and worked in Barbican Street (the area just outside the City wall, now an underpass that leads into the Barbican Arts Centre). Bookseller/Publishers Richard Butler and Elizabeth Calvert thrived in Barbican Street in the 1670s, not far from Grubb Street. Bodice maker James Leech and Nicholas Blackwell, brazier traded their tokens and carried out their business in proximity of the plentiful inns and coffee houses of Barbican Street, with colourful names such as the Goat; the Holy Lamb and Three Bowls or the Two Black Boys.

A large number of sources were used to compile the database, from the ‘Little Directory of London’ of 1677 (the oldest list of merchants and bankers of London) through to copious entries from the London Gazette (the first real newspaper appearing in November 1665 and which survives today as a record of official appointment). It also includes extensive research undertaken on London booksellers, printers, signboards and the historical Survey of London initiated by the then London County Council and now under the auspices of English Heritage and the Centre for Metropolitan History (with the volumes available online on the British History Online website). There are many references to State Papers Domestic from The National Archives for the reigns of Charles II, James II and William and Mary (calendars can be found on British History Online) and on the State Papers Online website (institutional subscription required).

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