In September 2008, in association with Docklands Ancestors, findmypast.co.uk launched its first batch of baptism parish records for London's docklands. The ultimate aim is to transcribe all of London's dockland Church of England parish registers. The project is ongoing, with quarterly updates expected.
Which areas are covered?
In geographical terms these registers incorporate much of the East End (Stepney, Whitechapel, Poplar, Wapping, Shadwell, Spitalfields, Ratcliff, Limehouse, the Isle of Dogs), through to Rotherhithe, Newington and Bermondsey, on the south of the river. Parts of Essex (for instance, Dagenham and West Ham) will also be covered.
For details of the parishes currently available on findmypast.co.uk, please visit our knowledge base
The date range of the registers varies from parish to parish. Overall they cover the period 1608 to 1933.
Of especial use are the records pre-dating Civil Registration (the introduction, in 1837, of the compulsory registration of births, deaths, and marriages), which provide a unique record of your otherwise potentially untraceable ancestors.
The post-1837 registers, however, should not be discounted. Being full transcriptions, the records within the Civil Registration period may provide information not found on a certificate and also save you the expense of ordering one.
Those featured in the docklands parish registers were a diverse mix, though predominantly working class. There were many types of occupations associated with the docks: watermen and lightermen, stevedores and dock labourers, clerks, carmen, customs officials and crane drivers, to name a few.
What was East London like?
For much of the 19th and early 20th centuries East London was overcrowded, disease-ridden, and desperately poor. The area housed a cosmopolitan mix of cockney, Chinese, as well as Irish, and Eastern European Jews.
A series of slum clearance operations, which saw the most impoverished estates demolished and rebuilt, coupled with extensive bombing in the Second World War, changed the face of East London forever. These records offer a unique glimpse at an era now lost behind the scrim of time.Search the docklands baptism parish registers