Unusual Sources

Exploring old records, data bases, books and archives is very addictive when it comes to family history. Every once in a while though an unusual source appears to add colour to the story or family line that I might be hunting. The most unusual for me was while I was enjoying a British TV series called Rev. A story about a Church of England priest and his life in an inner city parish in London. The fictional name of the church was “St Saviour in the Marshes” in Hackney, East London. It was in the film credits that I realised that the church was actually St Leonards, Stepney, my ancestors family church (Biggs family line from Henderson to Crosby).

The church as it stands today was built around 1740, replacing an earlier structure.

Church of St Leonards Shoreditch, 1827. ‘Plate 10: Church of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, views of exterior’, in Survey of London: Volume 8, Shoreditch, ed. James Bird (London, 1922), p. 10. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol8/plate-10 [accessed 21 February 2021].

The first record I have I my ancestors involvement with the church is the marriage of Peter Crosby (4 x great grandfather) to Elizabeth Biggleton (4 x great grandmother) in 1782 at St Leonards, Shoreditch..

Marriage Bonds and Allegations. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives. Surrey Marriage Bonds and Allegations records held by the London Metropolitan Archives

It is then possible to trace the Crosby family through church records, with baptisms, marriages and burials until 1837 when Thomas Henderson married Margaret Crosby and became my immigrant ancestors to Australia.

Not only did I love the TV series but it also showed me the church interior and exterior from all angles. A very unexpected but welcome addition to my knowledge about the lives of my ancestors.

‘Plate 17: Church of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, interior views’, in Survey of London: Volume 8, Shoreditch, ed. James Bird (London, 1922), p. 17. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol8/plate-17 [accessed 21 February 2021].

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