This blog tells the story of one family – my family – living in London in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Based on my family history research, it sets out to rescue from relative obscurity a nexus of individuals, connected by birth or marriage, who lived and worked in the nation’s capital at a time of rapid and momentous change.
In tracing the roots of my mother’s East End family, I discovered that our ancestors had lived in London since at least the early seventeenth century. They migrated to the city from villages in Sussex, Worcestershire and elsewhere, married into each other’s families, and worked as stationers, apothecaries, haberdashers, goldsmiths and sea captains. Most lived in quiet obscurity, some grew rich, a few achieved power and fame, and one or two experienced dramatic falls from grace.
The title of the blog reflects the fact many of those whose stories are told here described themselves as ‘citizen and…’, followed by their occupation, indicating that they were freemen of the city. The second half of the title is an acknowledgement that these individuals were part of an extended web of relatives, often living in close proximity within the city walls.
I’ve always been fascinated by the history of London, the city of my birth, and in family history research I’ve discovered a means of imaginatively re-entering the past, through the lives of my forebears. I created this blog in order to share my findings about my London ancestors with a wider audience, in the hope that telling the story of one family might add to our understanding of the collective story of this extraordinary city. In addition, I hope that readers will find the individual stories recounted here as fascinating and engrossing as I do.
If you have any information that can shed light on the lives described here, I would very much like to hear from you. Please leave a comment on the blog, or email me at:
Martin Robb. September 2016.