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Themes Explorers and Adventurers Nobel Prize Winners
Actors/Actresses and Directors Famous People Places of Interest
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Historic Events Prime Ministers
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Artists and Architects Monarchs World Heritage Sites
Composers National Parks Writers and Poets

The County of London was formed in 1889 from parts of the ancient counties of Middlesex, Kent and Surrey, with the City of London remaining an independent body. In 1965 Greater London was formed, taking in the rest of Middlesex (which no longer existed as a county) together with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire and further areas of Kent and Sussex.

Greater London is made up of 12 Inner and 20 Outer London boroughs together with the City of London.

London Boroughs

Actors/Actresses and Directors

The actor Boris Karloff was born as William Henry Pratt at 36 Forest Hill Road in East Dulwich in 1887. In 1909 he emigrated to Canada before moving to Hollywood where he starred in many classic horror films such as Frankenstein in 1931 and The Mummy in 1932 securing a reputation as Hollywood's biggest star in the genre. He returned to live in England in the 1950s.

Boris Karloff

The film comedian and director Charlie Chaplin was born as Charles Spencer Chaplin in Kennington in 1889. He emigrated to the United States in 1910 on the same ship as Stan Laurel who had acted as his understudy.

In 1914 Chaplin arrived in Hollywood and over the next decades became one of the major stars of the silent movie age, providing him with the money and power to be a co-founder of United Artists. In 1928 The Circus won him an Academy Award. In the 1950s Chaplin returned to Europe disillusioned with America's preoccupation with anti-Communism and made his home in Vevey in Switzerland. He died there in 1977.

Charles Chaplin

Margaret Rutherford was born in London in 1892. Best known for her depiction of Miss Marple she also won an Academy Award for the 1963 film The V.I.P.s.

Margaret Rutherford

The film director Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone in 1899. After making his early films in Britain he moved to Hollywood in 1939 where his 1940 film Rebecca won an Academy Award for Best Picture. He went on to make some of cinema's greatest thrillers including Rear Window, North by Northwest and Psycho with many of Hollywood's leading actors and actresses.

Alfred Hitchcock

The American comedian Bob Hope was born as Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham in 1903. At the age of four his family emigrated to the United States.

The stage and film actor John Gielgud was born as Arthur John Gielgud in London in 1904. A member of the famous Old Vic theatre, he made many critically acclaimed performances there. He also acted in many films winning an Academy Award late in his life for his supporting role in the 1981 film Arthur.

John Gielgud

The film director Carol Reed was born in London in 1906. He directed The Third Man in 1949 and won an Academy Award for the 1968 musical Oliver!.

Carol Reed

The stage and film actor Jack Hawkins was born as John Edward Hawkins in London in 1910. His film career included such classics as The Bridge on the River Kwai in 1957 and Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.

Jack Hawkins

The film actor David Niven was born as James David Graham Nevins in London in 1910. In the 1930s he left England for Hollywood where he made a successful career as a leading man. He won an Academy Award for the 1958 film Separate Tables.

David Niven

The stage and film actor Alec Guinness was born in London in 1914. He made many comedies for Ealing Studios including The Ladykillers and received an Academy Award for his role in the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai. Other films included Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and a cameo role as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars.

Alec Guinness

Anglo-Saxons and Danes
Anglo-Saxon Kings Danish Kings
Middlesex once formed the kingdom of the Middle Saxons, so named because their kingdom lay between those of the East Saxons (Essex) and the West Saxons (Wessex).

Ethelred the Unready died in London in 1016 and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, England's largest Protestant church.

Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

The son of King Canute and last Danish King of England Harthacanute died at a wedding feast at Lambeth in 1042. He was buried at Winchester in Hampshire.

Monarchs buried at Winchester

Edward the Confessor, the son of Ethelred the Unready died in Westminster Palace in 1066. He was the first monarch to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Monarchs buried at Westminster Abbey

Artists and Architects

The architect Inigo Jones was born in London in 1573 and was buried in the City in 1652.

Inigo Jones

Born in Antwerp in 1599, the portrait painter Anthony Van Dyck died at Blackfriars of the plague in 1641. He is buried at St Paul's Cathedral.

Anthony Van Dyck
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

In 1775 William Turner was born as Joseph Mallord William Turner in Covent Garden. He died at 119 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea in 1851 and is buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

William Turner

Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

The portrait and landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough died in London in 1788 and is buried at Kew.

Thomas Gainsborough

The portrait painter Joshua Reynolds died at a house on Leicester Square, Westminster in 1792 and is buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

Joshua Reynolds
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

Painter, craftsman, poet, publisher and socialist William Morris was born in Walthamstow in 1834. He died in 1896 at his home Kelmscott House at Hammersmith.

William Morris

William Morris Society

The landscape painter John Constable died in Bloomsbury in 1837 and is buried at Hampstead where he lived later in life.

John Constable

The writer and pioneering garden designer Gertrude Jekyll was born at 2 Grafton Street in Mayfair in 1843. She would plan many gardens, especially in Surrey where her family moved when she was a child and where she would spend most of her life. She also collaborated with her friend, the architect Edwin Lutyens, for whom she designed over 300 gardens for his buildings.

Gertrude Jekyll

The architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens was born in 16 Onslow Square, Chelsea in 1869. On his death - also in the capital - in 1944 his ashes were interred at St Paul's Cathedral.

Edwin Landseer Lutyens
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

The American-born painter James Whistler was buried in Chiswick in 1903. He had lived in London since 1859.

James Whistler

The composer Henry Purcell was born in London in 1658 and died in the city in 1695. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Henry Purcell
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey
Purcell Society

The German-born composer George Frideric Handel died in 1759 at his home at 25 Brook Street in Westminster. He had lived there since 1723 having made London his home in 1712. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

George Frideric Handel
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey
George Frideric Handel website

The youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Christian Bach was buried in 1782 in St Pancras. He had been born in Leipzig in Germany in 1735 and had lived in London since 1762.

Johann Christian Bach

Explorers and Adventurers

Walter Ralegh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard by St Margaret's Church opposite the Houses of Parliament in 1618. A favourite of Elizabeth I he fell out with her successor James I who had him imprisoned in the Tower of London. Eventually released Ralegh mounted an unsuccessful expedition to search for gold in Guyana during which he ordered the burning of a Spanish settlement. On his return to England he was rearrested und executed. Although Ralegh's body is buried at the church, it is not complete. His head was given to his widow who later buried it at the church of St Mary's in West Horsley in Surrey.

Walter Ralegh

Poetry Archive

Mary Kingsley was born in Islington in 1862. In 1893 and 1895 she made two expeditions to West Africa, becoming the first European to travel in the area.

Richard Francis Burton was buried at Mortlake in 1890. Burton had set out with John Hanning Speke in 1856 to find the source of the Nile. In 1858 they became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika but Burton, suffering from malaria, had to turn back and it was Speke travelling on alone who discovered the river's source which he named Lake Victoria.

Richard Francis Burton

In 1904 Henry Morton Stanley died at 2 Richmond Terrace in Whitehall. He was most famous for finding the Scottish explorer David Livingstone in Tanganyika in Africa in 1871. He is buried at Pirbright in Surrey.

Henry Morton Stanley

In 1941 the aviator Amy Johnson died when she had to bale out of her plane over the Thames Estuary. In 1930 she had become the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

Amy Johnson

Famous People

The preacher and founder of Methodism John Wesley died in the City Road, Finsbury in 1791 and is buried there in the chapel named after him. It was whilst studying at Oxford in 1729 that John's brother Charles had set up a religious group called the "Oxford Methodists" which John later joined. This was the beginnings of Methodism which the brothers would later found together with George Whitefield. Originally a movement within the Church of England, the Methodists were eventually forced to separate and form their own church. John's brother Charles Wesley died at his home at 1 Wheatley Street, Westminster in 1788 and was buried at the parish church in St Marylebone.

John Wesley
Charles Wesley

The reformer William Wilberforce died at 44 Cadogan Place in 1833. He had campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade and is buried at Westminster Abbey.

William Wilberforce as a boy
William Wilberforce in later life
William Wilberforce

Anti-slavery movement
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

The first woman to qualify as a doctor in England, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was born as Elizabeth Garrett in Whitechapel in 1836. In 1908 she also became the country's first woman mayor when she was elected to the office in Aldeburgh in Suffolk.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

The social reformer Sidney Webb was born in London in 1859. In 1884 he became one of the founding members of the newly formed Fabian Society and in 1892 married another formidable social reformer, Beatrice Potter. Together they dedicated themselves to promoting Socialist values and in 1895 established the world-renowned London School of Economics and Political Science.

Sidney Webb
With Beatrice Webb

The suffragette Emily Davison was born at Blackheath in 1872. She resorted to militant actions for which she was often imprisoned. In 1913 she died from injuries sustained when she was trampled after trying to stop the king's horse at the Epsom Derby.

Karl Marx was buried at Highgate Cemetery in 1883. Born in 1818 in Trier in what was then Rheinish Prussia (now Germany) he had lived with his family in London since 1849.

Karl Marx
Famous London cemeteries

A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Communism.
The Communist Manifesto (1848)

The murders between August and November 1888 of six women in the East End led to the hunt for Jack the Ripper. He was never found and his identity is still a mystery today although many theories have been put forward.

In 1910 the nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale died at her home at 10 South Street in Westminster. She is buried at East Wellow in Hampshire.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

The double-agent Donald Maclean was born in London in 1913. While studying at Cambridge University he joined the Communist Party together with three friends and fellow students: Guy Burgess, Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt. The four - who became known as the Cambridge Spies - would later divulge many secrets to the Soviet Union and become one of the most notorious and damaging spy rings to operate in Britain during the Cold War. Maclean died in Moscow in 1983 where he had fled to in 1951 after he and Burgess were warned by Philby that they had been uncovered.

Donald Maclean
Cambridge Spies
Cold War

The founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud died in Hampstead in 1939 where he had lived since having had to flee his home in Vienna due to the annexation of Austria by Germany the previous year. In 1856 he had been born in Freiburg in Moravia, a part of the Austrian Empire which now lies in the Czech Republic.

We are so made, that we can only derive intense enjoyment from a contrast, and only very little from a state of things.
Civilization and its Discontents (1930)

..., but in a world he changed
simply by looking back with no false regrets;
all he did was to remember
like the old and be honest like children.

W.H. Auden: In Memory of Sigmund Freud (1940)

Historic Events

Important Events
Between 1664-66 the Great Plague of London killed over 75,000 people in the capital.

Black Death

In 1666 a fire started by accident at the house of the King's baker in Pudding Lane near London Bridge led to the Great Fire of London. Although it helped end the Plague it destroyed over 13,000 houses.

Great Fire of London

Inventors and Scientists

The inventor John Harrison died in Red Lion Square, Camden in 1776. In 1759 he had invented the marine chronometer, a clock accurate enough to keep time even after months at sea. The clock, called H4, would revolutionise shipping as it enabled longitude to be measured for the first time.

The chemist and physicist Michael Faraday was born in 1791 at Newington Butts, Kennington. He spent his life researching and experimenting in the new field of electricity. He died in 1867 and was buried at Highgate Cemetary.

Michael Faraday
Famous London cemeteries

The mathematician, computer pioneer and Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing was born in Paddington in 1912.

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

Places of Interest

Cathedrals and Abbeys
St Paul's Cathedral England's largest Protestant church. Throughout history it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the last time by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Sir Christopher Wren
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

Stately Homes and Palaces
Eltham Palace was a popular residence of the monarchs during the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1461 Henry VI was put under house arrest at the Palace when he was deposed by Edward IV.

Whitehall Palace became the monarch's official residence and home of the Royal court after Westminster Palace burnt down in 1512. It remained so until 1698 when another fire destroyed all the Palace except for the Banqueting House. From 1702
the official residence and Royal court moved to St James's Palace, where it has remained ever since.

St James's Palace was from 1702 the official residence of the monarch after Whitehall Palace burnt down in 1698. It has remained the home of the Royal court ever since. In 1649 Charles I spent his last night before his execution at Whitehall at the Palace. In 1677 the future Mary II married her Dutch cousin William III there and in 1840 Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in the Chapel Royal.

Kensington Palace was first used as a residence by William III in 1689 to escape the polluted air at Westminster Palace. The Palace remained the monarchs main residence until the death of George II in 1760.

Buckingham Palace was first used as a residence by Queen Victoria in 1837. It has remained the monarch's official London residence ever since.

Historic Buildings
The Globe Theatre is a reconstruction of the theatre in which Shakespeare had shares, acted and had many of his plays performed. The original theatre burnt down during a performance of "Henry VIII" in 1613.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
Shakespeare -The Early Years
Shakespeare - The Later Years
British Library - The Plays

The University of London received its Royal Charter in 1836. This would make it the third oldest university to be founded in England after Oxford and Cambridge over 600 years before. This claim is disputed as Durham University was founded in 1832, although it didn't receive its Royal Charter until 1837. The capital's new university was created out of many different institutions (some dating back to the 12th century) including two colleges which also have claims to being England's third oldest university: University College London (founded 1826) and Kings College London (founded 1829).

World Heritage Sites
The Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) together with Westminster Abbey and the adjacent St Margaret's Church were designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1987. All monarchs since William the Conqueror on Christmas Day 1066 have been crowned at Westminster Abbey, except for Edward V and Edward VIII who weren't crowned at all.

People buried at Westminster: Monarchs
People buried at Westminster: Royal consorts
People buried at Westminster: Famous people
The Palace of Westminster

The Tower of London was designated a World Heritage Site in 1988. During history the Tower has had many uses including that of a mint, a zoo, an armoury and a favoured Royal palace but the main and most famous use was as a prison and place of execution for many prominent people down through the ages. The Crown Jewels are also kept there.

Famous people imprisoned at the Tower of London

In 1997 Greenwich Maritime was designated a World Heritage Site. The site includes buildings designed by such architects as Sir Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones.

County Links Genealogy in England

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Guildhall Library
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London and Middlesex Archaeological Society
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