In recent posts about the Londors family of Barking, Essex, I’ve wondered about their connection to Stepney and the ‘old’ East End. My 3 x great grandfather John Londors was born in Woodford, Essex, and all the records we have show him living in Barking and working as a farm labourer. All the children that he had with his Barking-born wife, Mary Ann Schofield, were also born in Barking and nearly all of them worked as (or were to married) farm labourers there.
Yet, as I’ve noted in earlier posts, three of John and Mary Ann’s seven children were married in the East End. Their eldest son, my great-great-grandfather John Schofield Londors, married Sarah Brown at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney, in June 1851, despite the fact that both were from Barking and were living there before and after their marriage. John junior’s first daughter, Sarah Ann Londors, appears to have been born in Barking a year later, yet she was christened at St. Mary’s in Bromley St. Leonard. John’s sister Elizabeth Londors married George Smith, also from Barking, at St. Mary’s in Stratford-le-Bow in November 1851. William Londors may have had more reason to marry his wife, Caroline Feller, at the church of St. Thomas in Stepney in February 1864, since she was born and grew up in Shadwell, but how did he, who can be found in Barking in every census record, meet her in the first place?
It’s not that Barking was a great distance from Stepney – it’s only a matter of seven miles or so - and today both places are part of a continuous East London sprawl. But in the early 19th century Barking was a separate village in rural Essex, while Stepney was very much an inner London suburb. What’s more, we know that travel was more difficult and less frequent in that period, especially for the working class, added to which people had a tendency to marry and to remain rooted in their home parish.
However, researching the story of the Orgars and their links to the Londors family has thrown some possible light on the mystery. John Orgar, who (I believe) married Sarah Anne Schofield, sister of my 3 x great grandmother Mary Ann, was born in October 1798 and baptised at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney, in March 1799. At the time the family was living in Mile End Old Town, but at some point there must have been a move to Barking, in order for John to meet his future wife Sarah Anne, and for their first child, another John Orgar, to be born there.
The John Orgar who married Sarah Schofield was, like both his father and his son, a tobacco pipe maker, and seems to have led a fairly itinerant life, moving between Barking, Highgate, Richmond, Stepney and Bethnal Green. His son John, too, would move from place to place, marrying in Barking but at various times living in Clerkenwell, St. Luke’s and finally Shoreditch. Perhaps the life of a pipe maker was unusually peripatetic, but the Orgars’ experience demonstrates that movement between rural Essex and urban east London was not unknown.
It also provides the Londors family with relatives in Stepney. For example, at the time of John Schofield Londors’ marriage in 1851, his uncle John Orgar (b. 1798) and aunt Sarah were living in Stepney, while his cousin John Orgar (b. 1818) had settled in nearby Shoreditch. We know that the relationship between the Londors and Orgar families was sufficiently close for John Schofield Londors’ daughter Sarah to marry her second cousin William (daughter of John Orgar junior) in Bishopsgate in 1873.
But are these factors sufficient to explain why John, Elizabeth and William Londors chose Stepney as the location for their marriages? Might there be another link with the area, provided not indirectly via the Orgars, but directly through the Londors family themselves?
I’ve always thought of my Londors ancestors as deeply-rooted in the Essex countryside, and probably as having farmed there for centuries. After all, my 3 x great grandfather John Londors was born in Woodford, lived in Barking, and apparently worked as an agricultural labourer all his life, as did his son, my great-great-great grandfather John, and his son, my great grandfather George (though the latter would eventually find employment as a grave digger).
But what if the elder John Londors, like his brother-in-law John Orgar, also moved between Essex and the East End, and like him had family ties with London? What if (stretching the speculation even further) he and John Orgar already knew each other before they met and married the two Schofield sisters?
In a recent post in which I confirmed that John Londors senior married Mary Ann Schofield in 1826, I also confirmed my suspicion that this was his second marriage: the Barking parish record describes him as a widower. My hunch was based on the difference in ages between Mary and John: she was born in 1802, making her 24 when she married John, whereas later census records suggest John was born in about 1786, meaning he was closer to 40.
My search for evidence of John’s first marriage has so far proven fruitless, but it has sent me back to a record which I think may have an indirect connection with him. On 8 April 1792 a John Londors married Sarah Reeves at Christ Church with St. Mary and St. Stephen, Spitalfields. When I first came across this record some time ago, I dismissed it as unconnected with the Barking Londors family: but then, I initially did the same with the marriage of John Schofield Londors in Stepney, as I wasn’t aware at that stage of any link between that area and my Londors ancestors.
But now, I was more curious about this John Londors of Spitalfieds, partly because of the pattern set by John Orgar senior’s movements between east London and Barking. Could this John Londors have followed a similar trajectory? Of course, this would have been too early to be the first marriage of my 3 x great grandfather, if he was born in 1786. But might this have been his father, and might he, like John Orgar, have moved from the East End to rural Essex – in his case, to Woodford?
My theory that the John Londors who married Sarah Reeves in Spitalfields might be connected in some way with ‘our’ Londors family received some support when I looked up the orgin of the Londors name online and found this entry at the Internet Surname Database:
This is an early German locational name which derives from “Landaver” or “Londow” and describes either a countryman i.e. one who lives in the country as opposed to a town dweller. The name in its various spellings was originally found in Alsace, an area which has been continually under invasion from either France or Germany. The name recordings in England are found as Lander, Londer and Londors, the latter being an anglicized variant which appears to have introduced an intrusive ‘s’ purely as an aid to dialectual pronounciation, although it is possible that it has some patronymic i.e. “son of Londer” origination. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Londors, which was dated 1792, married Sara Reeves at Christchurch, Spitalfields.
In other words, there are no other recorded instances of the name ‘Londors’ – spelt in that particular way – before this John Londors. How likely is it that the same spelling would spontaneously emerge in Woodford or Barking around the some time, or some decades later? Doesn’t this support my case that ‘my’ Londors family can trace its origin back to John Londors of Spitalfields? After all, if you search for the name ‘Londors’ in the pre-19th-century records, you won’t find any others: you’ll find Lander, Launders and other variants, but not Londors. Nor are there any later records for John Londors of Spitalfields or is wife Sarah. Either they died before the 1841 census, or they moved away from London – to Essex perhaps?
However, I’ve discovered that the surname database is not quite accurate when it says that this is the first use of the spelling ‘Londors’. The record of John’s marriage to Sarah Reeves notes that he, too, was a widower. If we search back through the records, we find that on 2 December 1782, also at Christ Church Spitalfields, John Londors married Hannah Ackerly. The record of the banns uses the ‘Londors’ spelling, though the actual marriage record has the first ‘o’ crossed out and replaced with a ‘u’, and the groom also signs himself ‘Lundors’. But the signature is close enough to that of the 1792 John Londors to suggest – together with the coincidence of location – that this is the same person. It’s important to remember that John Londors or Lundors was probably almost illiterate (the signature in both instances is imperfectly formed, and both Sarah and Hannah inscribe their ‘mark’). Also, that for an 18th century labourer of East End or Essex origin, there probably wasn’t much difference between the pronunciation ‘Londors’ and ‘Lundors’. Finally, the spelling of the surname was obviously still evolving, and the two spellings are close enough to be almost identical, especially as they both contained the distinctive ‘-ors’ ending.
Is it possible, then, that John Londors of Spitalfields first married Hannah Ackerly, and then, when she died, married Sarah Reeves? And is it possible that, at some point, he moved, perhaps only temporarily, to Essex? Could it be that my 3 x great grandfather John Londors was his son?
Unfortunately, the parish records for Woodford, unlike those for Barking, are not yet digitised and online, so it may be a while before I can discover exactly when my ancestor was born, and whether his parents really were John Londors and Hannah Ackerly of Spitalfields.
What seems apparent, though, is that everyone alive today with the surname Londors can probably trace their ancestry back to John Londors of Spitalfields – and also if, I’m right, to my 3 x great grandfather, John Londors of Barking.
If you’re a Londors or (like me) are descended from a Londors, and can trace your family tree back by a different route, I’d be very interested to hear from you. And if you know what became of John Londors of Spitalfields, or his possible connection with John Londors of Woodford, please do get in touch.