In my last post I wrote about the family of my great-great-grandfather, Frederick French, who was born in Limehouse in 1847. As I mentioned in that post, Frederick married Emily Hindley on Christmas Day, 1867, at All Saint’s church, Poplar.

Emily, also born in Limehouse in 1847, was the daughter of ship chandler William Hindley. There are records of the Hindley family in both the 1851 and 1861 census, though I’ve yet to find a matching record for 1841. In 1851, we find 30-year-old labourer and ship chandler William Hindley and his 30-year-old wife Mary, at 3 Kirk’s Row, Limehouse, with their children William, 11, John Charles, 8,  Mary Esther, 6, Emily, 4, Jessie, 2 and a 5 month old son who is ‘not yet named’. By 1861, the family is living at 2 Rhodeswell Terrace in Mile End Old Town, and William senior is working as a sailmaker and warehouseman. Other members of the family are similarly employed: son William, 21, is also a sailmaker, while wife Mary and daughter Mary are described as flagmakers. Emily, 14, and Jessie, 12, are said to be ‘scholars at home’. The child who was 5 months old in 1851 seems not to have survived, but there are two new children: Ellen A, 8, and Sydney H, 1.


We know from the record of his birth (in 1842) that John Charles’ full name was John Charles Samuel Hindley, and that ‘Ellen’ was christened Helen Agnes (in 1854, at St. Anne’s church, Limehouse). Mary Esther would be a witness at her sister Emily’s wedding to Frederick French in 1867.

I wonder if the Hindley family was the original source for the name Jessie that was passed down through my father’s family? Frederick and Emily named one of their daughters Jessie, and another of their daughters, my great grandmother Mary French, in turn gave a daughter the same name (she also gave my grandmother the middle name Emily, after her own mother). My dad’s sister – my late Auntie Kit – was christened Katherine Jessie May Robb (another sister, my Auntie Grace is Grace Mary Emily).

St. Mary's church, Lewisham

Naming patterns can help in tracing families back through the generations. Looking for information about Emily Hindley’s parents – William and Mary – I came across the record of a wedding at All Saints, Poplar on 5th November 1837, between sailmaker William Hindley and one Mary Affleck. As well as the location and occupation, the date also matches: William’s and Mary’s first child, William, was born in 1838 or 1839.

Mary Affleck’s father was engineer Samuel Affleck and one of the witnesses was Esther Affleck: both are Christian names that ‘our’ Hindleys would give to their children. Mary Affleck was born on 14th June 1816 and christened at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney: her parents’ names are given as Samuel and Esther. Going back still further, we find that Samuel Affleck married Hesther Gunter on 16th January 1814 at St. Mary’s church, Lewisham. Although both were resident in the parish, Samuel is said to have been born in ‘Galloway, N. Britain’ and Hesther in Coley (Coaley) Gloucestershire. At Scotland’s People I came across a baptismal record from 1794 for Samuel Affleck, son of mason Robert Affleck, in Dumfries.

An old photo of Dumfries High Street

William Hindley’s vocation for sailmaking may have its origins in the occupation of his father, John Hindley, who is said to have been a shipwright. However, I’ve yet to find any further records for John or his family.

In 1871, four years after Emily married Frederick French, her parents William and Mary were living in Cowley Road, Wanstead. William was now a retired warehouseman and living with them were William junior, Helen and Sidney.  By 1881 Mary had died and widower William, now a clerk in a coal office, was still living at Cowley Road with Helen and Sidney. At the same date William junior, a sail maker, was living with his wife Sarah and children Alice and Charles at 4 Alfred Terrace, Limehouse. I haven’t found a record for them in the 1891 census, but they were still in Limehouse in 1901.