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Monday 28 August 2017 1.27am
Hi All

I am researching an ancestor who had a shoemaker's (cordwainer's, actually) shop at 181 Borough High Street in 1811.

What I want to know & can't find out is how old the current building is i.e. is it the one my ancestor's shop was in, or is it a more recent structure.

I am somewhat hampered by the fact that I am in Canberra, Australia so just nipping down to the Council library or whatever isn't an option. I'm hoping that some knowledgeable Londoner could assist.

I've looked for "heritage reports" or similar documentation, but can't find it.

Thanks. Frances
Monday 28 August 2017 5.17am
You could write to Southwark Council's Local History Library:

When submitting your enquiry, something to be aware of is the numbering of properties on Borough High Street has changed over the years.
Monday 28 August 2017 1.31pm
This may, or may not help, but maybe the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers could give you some info.
They are in Clothworkers Hall, Dunster Court, Mincing Lane, London E.C.3
I remember a young guy doing "The Knowledge" to become a black cab driver, asking me where Dunster Court was once, when I was on Fenchurch Street station rank in my taxi.
I told him to go into Fenchurch Street, then turn left into Mincing Lane, and it was on the left.
Perhaps they have archives about who had a shop, and where.
Monday 28 August 2017 5.10pm
Lionel wrote:
You could write to Southwark Council's Local History Library:

When submitting your enquiry, something to be aware of is the numbering of properties on Borough High Street has changed over the years.

As Lionel says, changes to the street numbering will be problematical - the Local History Library may be able to help (this is where we miss the likes of Stephen Humphrey, the late lamented Local Studies librarian and archivist).

Today's number 181 is just part of the big modern building nos 179-191 - Kaplan accountancy courses - see Google Street View (I don't remember when this was built, but it clearly totally destroyed any earlier buildings on the site).

However, if the numbering has changed, there are rather more earlier buildings lurking behind the late 19th and 20th century facades than you might think - and the information is available on line.

Go to - Southwark Council's interactive map site. Scroll down the left-hand panel and click to put a tick in the 'Listed buildings' box. Then enlarge the map (carefully) to zoom in on Borough High Street. 'Listed' (historic) buildings are highlighted in green. Click on whichever interests you to get a pop-up info box, then on 'Listing description click to open' to get the official description. So for example no 179 BHS, just next door (Delta House), turns out to be 'Late 17th century with 20th century facade and internal alterations' - apparently the original staircase survives inside.

PS: I presume your ancestor was 'Edward Taylor, Boot and Shoe-maker', who appears in the 1808 Post Office Directory at '181, Borough'?
- on-line at

The Southwark Local Studies Library may have other local directories they could check for you.

What would be useful is a street directory, that lists tradesman by their address, street by street and number by number, rather than alphabetically by name - since these indicate the locations of side streets, this would give a clue exactly where no 181 was. But I don't know if they exist for such an early date. The best collection of London directories is probably that in the London Metropolitan Archive - see

PPS - just found a street directory for 1841 on line -

At that time, the numbering for Borough High Street ran consecutively down the east side, and then back up the west, so no 181 was NOT on the same site as today. Instead it stood on the WEST side, between 'Mint Street and 'Adam's Place' - not sure where Adam's Place was, but it seems to fall in the list about halfway between Mint Street (=Marshalsea Road) and Union Street. Looks as if 181 was in the area of nos 140-150 today - all modern buildings, I'm afraid. Incidentally, in 1841 the occupant of no 181 was George Packwood, bootmaker!

(Sorry for the PS and PPS - this would have made more sense if I'd done the research before starting to write the message!)
Tuesday 29 August 2017 3.27am
Oh Wow!! There's nothing like a bit of local knowledge. Yes, indeed, John C., that Edward Taylor is (probably) my ancestor. It's a bugger of a name, like Smith or Jones. I hunted around through the directories of the time & could only find another "Edward Taylor" who was a jeweller, on the Southbank of London, so as far as "proof" is concerned, it's not the best but probably as good as you'll get considering it's 200 years ago.

The numbering!! Poot!! Considering that I sent a friend of mine off on a mission to take a photo of 181 as the Google Earth image had a huge red bus in front of it. I'll check with the sources you recommend.

When I was doing an assignment (Family History at the Uni. of Tasmania) on Edward & his wife Ann, I'd just found out their connection with "the Borough" when that attack took place at the Market. I was totally gutted. It's funny how emotional you get when doing family history.

Just in case you're interested, & to amplify the myth that all Aussies are descended from crooks, read on. Edward & Ann were in a forging gang that was busted in 1814 - 1815. Edward was first arrested in Kingston, Surrey with forged notes on him. He ended up being tried & sentenced to 14 years transportation. He spent about 12 months in the hulks before embarkation for N.S.W.. Ann had a child just prior to her being arrested & thrown into Newgate. Her associate, Elizabeth Hayselten, had over 500 pounds worth of forged notes on her person when she was arrested. Ann was granted 12 shillings a week from the Bank of England until embarkation (the Bank did this with many of the "coinage" criminals, particularly if they pleaded guilty, thereby reducing the Bank's legal costs). It looks to me like forgery was a cottage industry in England at the time (Napoleonic Wars, currency changes = banks could issue their own notes, which were very easily forged, etc).

Despite the voyage & appalling conditions on the ships, Edward, Ann & little Edward survived. Edward had been in N.S.W. for about 12 months before Ann & the child arrived. On his arrival, he was assigned to a famous squatter (= free settler / gentleman's son type person) who set him up as a shoemaker; when Ann & little Edward turned up, big Edward had a Ticket of Leave (= essentially a free man) & a shoe maker's shop in a settlement west of Sydney (Liverpool). He ended up being assigned his own convicts, had several other children & they lived happily ever after ...

Their children burst out & became landowners in N.S.W. Two ended up in history books, with places named after them.

So, from a respectable cordwainer in London who "fell into bad company" (well, that's what Edward said in a letter) to a respectable cordwainer in N.S.W. ... with convicts ... & land. Really, what more could one want?
Tuesday 29 August 2017 10.48pm
Interesting post Fran, reminded me of when I landed in Brisbane on my only visit to Australia, about 10-12 years ago.
The guy at immigration said, "Your visa says that you've committed no crimes, is that true, have you committed any crimes?"
I said, "Gee, I didn't think that it was a necessity now for a Pom to be a crim to get into Oz"
He said, "That was so funny the first time I heard it."

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