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The Gowing Family

The Hollings family
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Credit must go to Dorothy Hollings, wife of William Hollings. William's memories of his younger days and his father are on line here. Dorothy has really taken up the batten of Hollings research. Most if not all of the information regarding the Hollings family and Kuhstedt has come to me through Dorothy. A big thank you from us all..


Johann Hoellings I - Born c.1661, Married Alheit Koops

     Johann Hoellings II - Born c.1693-4, Married Margret Kahrs

         Johann Christoph Hoellings - Born c.1729, Married Catharina Tho Riken

             Carsten Hollings - Born c.1765, Married various, see below.

                 George Thomas Hollings - Born 1805. Married Rachel Wire

                     George James Hollings - Born 1826.Married Selina Popkins

                        George Carsten Hollings - Born 1858. Married Sarah Jemimah Inward

                            Sarah Ethel Hollings - Born 1889. Married? John Arthur Gowing



The records for Great Britain prior to 1837 can at times be a little ambiguous. Firstly, the mothers maiden name was not recorded when a new born child was baptised and some non-conformist religions did not baptise their children at all, it was left to much later in life and done with the individuals consent. Secondly, on the early marriage records there was no place for the fathers name and occupation. The introduction civil registration in 1837 solved these problems but even civil registration was not compulsory at the beginning. For these reasons it is important to understand that we can never be 100% sure of the facts. It is true that there were many incidents of children being born in unusual and what today we would think of as normal circumstances. It is also true that what is written in the records may not actually be representative of the facts. What is written here is what I believe to be the facts. There are areas that have a higher percentage of doubt than others and where they occur I have noted that doubt.

Johann Hoellings Ist, 2nd and Johann Christoph Hoellings

Johann Hoellings Ist

The spelling of "Hollings" differs slightly to "Hoellings" in the absence of the umlaut. This is apparently common practice.
Johann was born in Steden, Beverstedt around 1651-61 (the record is not clear), Steden is about about 5-6 miles west of Kuhstedt as the crow flies. He married Alheit Koops, a native of Kuhstedt, in November 1691, Alheit was born about 1664 in K39 and died in the same house 12thJune 1712. Johann I and Alheit had two children that we know of, Magret b.1692 (K39) and Johann II. There is no apparent record of Johann II's birth so it is an assumption he was born two or three years after his sister, that is about 1693-4. Magret married Johann Ahrens from Vollersode in November 1711 exactly a year after her fathers death. The family then to moved K44. Vollersode is a larger town than Kuhstedt, again 5-6 miles away but this time to the south west.

Johann Hoellings llnd

Johann IInd did not marry until January 1728, to Margrethe Kahrs the daughter of Lueder Kahrs and Mein Clausen Boschen. Margrethe arrived December 1707, the first born of five children, Johann, Claus, Ditmar and Catharina followed on. The last four were christened in K44 Kuhstedt so I assume the same for Margrethe but that is only an assumption. It is interesting that the first born son of Johann and Margrethe, Luder, came along in February 1728, a matter of weeks after the marriage, Luder was born at K44 as was Johann Christoph in August 1729.

An interesting aspect of Hanovarian law at this time was only the first born was allowed to inherit a farm or small holding leaving the the remainder of the children only a small bequest. With this in mind, did Luder, the first born, die at a young age leaving Johann Christoph to inherit from his father?

The social structure in Germany was similar in many ways to that of Great Britain. The people were tagged by who their father was and how much they had in their pocket.
This is how it worked on a sliding scale:-
Full size farms,
Half size farms,
Quarter size farms
Koetner
Haeusling.

The full, half and quarter size farms had free use of the common land. Land was not generally divided between the individual farms but commonly used. Koetners were given some minor part of the common land while the Haeusling only had his patch of land with his house building and probably a very small piece of land for a garden. He did not have enough land to have a cow, sheep or pigs.
Johann Ist was a Koetner, probably a few steps down the social scale from the English Yoeman, Johann Christoph was a Hauesling. I do not know but I suspect Johann 2nd was also a Hauesling. A better, fuller description of a Koetner can be found here, the translation is not quite right but it is very informative and worth a read.

Johann Christoph Hoellings

Kuhstedt Map

Map of Kuhstedt
dated 1879

Johann Christoph, a hauesling, married Catharina Tho Riken (sometimes recorded as Rieke) in Kuhstedt, November 1752. Catharina was the daughter of Carsten Tho Riken and Alheit Tweitman. Born in February 1727 she was the youngest of four children all born at K12, her elder siblings were Hinrich (b.1718), Beke (Rebecca? b.1721) and Margret (b.1724). Catharina is more often than not recorded as Trien or Trin in the records.
Johan and Trien had seven children - Alheit (b.1754) Dettmar (b.c.1758), Lueder (b.1760), Margreth (b.1762) Carsten (b.1765), Johann (b.1768) and Trien (b.1771)

We can not know the conditions people lived in over two hundred years ago but it seems very strange to me that a father would pack his bags an leave his wife and family in search of a new life in another country but that is exactly what happened. As far as we are aware Trien was still living when Johann left Kuhstedt. Of the children we find Lueder died at one year but Trein didn't see out the first year of her life. Alheit, their eldest daughter married Johann Ahrens in 1774, Margreth married Hinrich Boeschen in December 1783. Carsten was with his father but of the young Johann we have no information. One plausible explanation maybe that young Johann was alive and well and was looking after his mother Trien while father Johann and Carsten went off in search of their fortune. A darker viewpoint and one equally plausible is that young Johann and Trien were no longer alive and with both daughters married there was nothing more to keep father and son in Kuhstedt.
If we roll back the years to 1750 we discover Germany experienced something of a population explosion, the net result of which ws a dramatic increase in poverty among the lower rungs of the social ladder. It was already common practise for the agricultural workers to leave the fields of Germany in the springtime and travel to the Netherlands in search of work, like England, the Netherlands was prosperous country. During the summer the workers would return home in time for their own harvest.

The demand for sugar in England was growing and the steady trickle of Hanoverian immigrants to the east end of London increased, as it was viewed as a far better prospect than the fields of the Netherlands. The pay was higher, the job lasted much longer and the prospect of settling in London and making a better life was a realistic option. At this early stage in the development of the sugar industry it was reported that nearly 85% of the sugar bakers employed in the east end of London were German, mostly from Hanover.

"...the writer would just remark, in passing, that the Germans who have come to this country from time to time in the capacity of sugar bakers, as they style themselves, have never been known to be accompanied from the Hanseatic towns 10 by their wives and families;
This is, in some degree, confirmed by Mr Edwards (author of a history of the West Indies, published in 1793), who observes :- "There are few operations more simple, or which require a less expensive apparatus, than that of refining sugar." He speaks also of "a class of foreigners" (evidently Germans) "employed in English refineries, who live in the most frugal and sparing manner in England, and then return with their savings to their own country." It has likewise been frequently remarked by our countrymen that those foreigners come here in the state of half-clad and half-starved peasants, and after remaining but a short time in this country and working in the refineries here, they soon become more like princes......"

The extract is taken from "Essay on Sugar"by Robert Niccol1. It was written in 1864 and it tells the story of the British sugar industry and the influence of German immigrants. Ian Rathjen has a page dedicated to this fascinating part of our social and industrial history.
There is little doubt that this is the answer to why Johann and Carsten left their family and came to England. It is also likely that Johann returned home to live like a prince as the extract puts it but Carsten saw his future in England.

 Lutheran Church,  Alie Street

Lutheran Church, 55 Alie Street, Whitechapel, London

The late 1700s and the early part of the 1800s was the peak for the east end sugar industry. All the sugar consumed in England at that time came through Goodman's Field's. The centre of the industry was around Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road to the north, Leman Street to the west, Canon Street Road to the east and Cable Street to the south. At the centre of this was Alie Street and there alone 22 different bakers were listed at various times and addresses between 1773 and 1865. Such was the influence of the immigrant population that the area became known as Little Germany. Pictured right is the Lutheran Church that still stands at 55 Alie Street, it was built 1762-3, the principal founder was sugar refiner Dederich Beckmann, who contributed over a third of the £1802 10s 9d cost of the lease and construction of the church. It served as a social centre for the fast growing German population, making the Parish of St George in the East one of the most active and well supported in the East End of London. Undoubtedly, Carsten Hollings would have been very familiar with those stout wooden doors. It is now the oldest German church in Britain.
By the mid 1800s rival centres were vying for a slice of the lucrative sugar trade, refineries in Liverpool, Bristol and Greenock in Scotland at the forefront of the charge. By the end of the century the east end sugar companies were moving out to Sivertown, among them two of the biggest in the business, the Englishman Henry Tate and the Scot, Abram Lyle, who at this time were still bitter rivals.

Carsten Hollings

Carsten Hollings and Margaret Sabben family tree

Such is the uniqueness of the name, we can be reasonably sure that the person mentioned in the reference below is of our lineage. It is dated 1838.

"...Hollings, Carsten, Highbury Road, Islington, aged 73, a native of Hanover. Came over when young with his father; worked in sugar-houses and afterwards went to sea. Having married, he became a stone-sawyer, but being himself no longer able to work, his wife seldom finding any employment and his two children having families of their own and being likewise very poor, he is reduced to abject misery..." 2

The extract confirms Carsten was born in Hanover, Germany. From his name we had surmised he was either German born or of German descent but it was many years before we were able to confirm it. He came to England as a young man with his father and appears to have married four times. His first wife, Margaret Charlotte Lidgate, was born and raised in Ratcliff, Stepney, very close to the London Docks. In the late 1700s the area would have been full of lodging houses with sailors and immigrants from all over flocking to Great Britain, the richest country in the world.

It is interesting to read the list of occupations mentioned in the extract. From Carsten's first job working in the sugar houses, possibly with his father (something we didn't know) to being a seaman (we didn't know) to being a stone sawyer or mason. At the baptism of William in 1793 his occupation was given as victualler. None of his other children's baptism certificates records the fathers occupation. We know for certain that Carsten's youngest son George Thomas, was a stone mason as were his sons and grandson after him. Robert, the first born on the other hand was a Musical Instrument Maker, this from the baptism details of his first born Robert Carsten from 1816. An occupation perhaps a little unexpected for the son of an immigrant. Is it possible grandfather Johann was an instrument maker by trade and passed on the skills to his grandson?

At the age of 22 Carsten married Margaret Lidgate in Shoreditch 1787, four years after his sister Margreth married in Kuhstedt. The union of Carsten and Margaret appears to have produced only one child, Robert, born June 14th 1792 and baptised May 5th 1793 at St Leonard's, Shoreditch. We have found no record of any children being born between 1787 and 1792. That does not mean there were none, it just means we have not found any records. Such was the child mortality of the time this may simply mean that none of the children survived. 1792 pre-dates by many years the building of the London sewerage system so cholera and typhoid were a constant threat to public health. However, this could also mean Margaret Charlotte Lidgate may have died in childbirth as was common for the time.
They married at St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch, London 28th May 1787. This suggests the Lidgate family, or at least Margaret, were no longer living in Ratcliff. Margaret herself was one of seven children, she was baptised on the 6th September 1761, at the St Vincent Street Scotch Church, Stepney, London. (St Vincent Street no longer exists, it was renamed Perth Street during the 1800's and the area has subsequently been cleared and redeveloped. The nearest surviving name from the past is Jamaica Street which ran almost parallel to St Vincent Street, several yards to the west) Her parents were John and Marjory Lidgate, Marjory's maiden name is not known at this time.


The Wives

Margaret Charlotte Lidgate, married St Leonard's, Shoreditch.1787.

[Sarah Clark, married St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster. 1790 ?]

Margaret Sabben, married Spitalfields Christ Church, London. 1794

Ann Bosworth, married; St Giles Cripplegate London. 1817


The Children

Robert, Born June 14th 1792, Baptised May 5th 1793 at St Leonard's, Shoreditch. Son of Margaret (Charlotte Lidgate)

William, Baptised 1793 at Spitalfields Christ Church Son of Sarah (Clark) Fathers occupation given as "Victualler"

Christopher, Baptised in 1795, at St Mary, Whitechapel. Son of Margaret (Sabben)

Anthony, Baptised in 1797, at St Mary Whitechapel. Son of Mary?

Johan Fredrich, Baptised 28th June 1800 St George's Lutheran Church, Whitechapel. Son of Margareta

James, Born June 8th, Baptised June 24th 1801, at Old Church, St Pancras Son of Margaret (Sabben)

Margaretha, Baptised 25th March 1804, St George's Lutheran Church, Whitechapel. Son of Margareta

George Thomas,  Born January 1st, Baptised June 2nd 1805, at Old Church, St Pancras Son of Margaret (Sabben)


Such is the individuality of the name "Carsten Hollings"  it would be easy to assume that in London there would be only one. Having taken that view at the early stages of this research we now have to say we are not entirely convinced that is the case.

Quaker Street and New Inn Yard, Shoreditch

Quaker Street and New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, 1795.

The records show that Carsten Hollings married again in 1790, at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, to Sarah Clark and they had a son William who was baptised at Christchurch, Spitalfields on 6th October 1793. The Father's occupation was given as "Victualler" At this time the family were living at Quaker Street, Spitalfields. The area immediately north of Quaker Street would soon be cleared for the construction of the London terminus of the Eastern Counties Railway (Bishopsgate). Quaker street is still in existence today.

The second marriage to Sarah Clark in 1790 is curious as the locality is not where we might expect to find it. The Parish of St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, is a long way from the docks of London's east end but it was not uncommon for couples to marry outside of their own Parish. Traditionally any marriage would take place in the parish of the bride. So with a name as rare as Carsten Hollings do we accept this is the same man that married Charlotte Lidgate three years earlier? If the answer to that question is yes how do we explain the birth and baptism of Robert Hollings in 1792/3 where the entry clearly shows the mother's name as Margaret? What are the options? Maybe Robert was born out of wedlock? It is possible Robert was the son of Carsten Hollings third wife Margaret Sabben, born before the couple were married in 1794. There are probably many other explanations that have not even occurred to us.

To muddy the waters even further, the parish of St Martin in the Fields had its own family (of whom we know nothing) bearing the Hollings name. Marriages of Rosetta, William and Elizabeth Hollings in 1801,1803 and 1804 respectively, suggests the Carsten Hollings who married Sarah Clark in 1790 could possibly be connected to this family as the marriage record describes both Carsten Hollings and Sarah Clark as widows. Considering this new information tipped the scales in the favour of there being two Carsten Hollings living in London at that time but this is, of course, only speculation. In fact, sifting through the records demonstrates quite conclusively that Hollings is by no means as unusual as we first thought, and if the origins of the name for all Hollings and its derivatives is Hoellings then Carsten and Johann were just the latest in a long line of immigrants.
We know Carsten came to London with his father, but they may have been joined by other members of a wider family. As with the English, names were handed down from generation to generation so a cousin with the same name is certainly a possibity. Of course it may also be possible that Rosetta, William and Elizabeth were Robert's brothers and sisters. As I have already said just because we have not found the records of any other children being born does not mean there were none. The possibilities though not endless, are many and varied.

 Further doubt is introduced by the Baptism of "William Hollings, son of Corster, Victualler by Sarah." This Baptism took place at Christchurch Spitalfields, Stepney, back in the east end of London exactly where we would expect to find them.

Is the father of Robert Hollin[g]s the same person as the husband of Margaret Charlotte Lidgate? Until now our answer would have been "Yes" Now we are of the opinion that that may not be the case. The reason for this change of heart is simple. Firstly the line of reasoning already mentioned, the difference in the mothers name. Robert was born on 14th June 1792, two years after the marriage to Sarah Clark. If Carsten's first wife, Margaret Charlotte had died young and he had married Sarah Clark in 1790, did Sarah also die young? maybe during or as a result of William's birth in 1793? That would certainly explain the marriage in 1794 to Margaret Sabben but it does not explain the apparent error of Robert's Mother's name.

A number of possible answers come to mind:-

  1. The marriage to Sarah Clark was bigamous. Carsten was still married to Margaret Charlotte and Robert was her child.

  2. The marriage to Sarah Clark was legitimate but Robert was not her child and was born out of wedlock. Possibly to Margaret Sabben, Carsten's third wife)

  3. The Carsten Hollings who married Sarah Clark was not the same man who married Margaret Charlotte and/or Margaret Sabben. This seems to be the answer to fit all the facts as we know them.

There is another explanation. During our research we have found a number of incidents (one of which effected us directly) where the transfer of information to the record books has been inaccurate. This has happened accidentally and involves the transcription of working notes made during the days activities to the official Church records at a later hour (or day in some cases). Could this be the case for Anthony? Baptised in 1797, at St Mary Whitechapel. Son of Mary. Who was Mary?

The baptism entries read thus:

Is this an error? I believe it to be so. The children before and after Anthony are both sons of Margaret. The address is different but the next child, George Thomas, is also baptised in St Pancras, so the family had moved.

This puzzle is unlikely ever to be solved.

Sanders Gardens, Hoxton

Sanders Gardens, Hoxton

The Baptism of Robert Hollings in May 1793 was at St Leonard's, Shoreditch, the address given was "Sanders Gardens" a name that conjures up an oasis of peacefulness and tranquillity in the madness that was Shoreditch of 1793. Extremely unlikely. Sanders Gardens was a small turning off the main Kingsland Road. By 1872 it had been renamed Edward Street and it is still in existence as Drysdale Street N1. As I have already written, Robert's Mother is recorded as Margaret which we now accept as being Margaret Charlotte. Knowing the fate of Margaret would, of course, answer many questions, and the same could be said for Sarah Clark. If and when we find out what happened to them the picture may be a little clearer. The records can only reflect the information given by the individual. If that individual chooses to withhold information, or is not entirely honest for whatever reason, there is little that can be done. What is interesting, however, is that Carsten Hollings signed his own name on his last three marriage entries. Shown below are three instances of his handwriting and above them the mark of the cross from his first marriage. Of the four ladies he married only Margaret Sabben was able to write her own name which is no real surprise.

Carsten Hollings signature

1787, "The mark" of Carsten Hollings

Carsten Hollings signature

1790, by his own hand, misspelt.

Carsten Hollings signature

1794

Carsten Hollings signature

1817, old age begins to show?


Alie Street, Whitechapel.

Alie Street, Whitechapel. Formerly Ayliffe Street, renamed Great and Little Alie Street(s) in the 1800's,
now simply Alie Street.

It was 1794 Carsten Hollings married again, his new wife was named Margaret Sabben and was the mother of the majority of his children. It is possible the name "Sabben" was a corruption of "Sabine"  which appears in London with far more frequency, however "Sabben" although not a common name does appear in Hampshire and Kent. 

In 1795-1797, the time of Christopher and Anthony's Baptism the family was living in Alie Street, Whitechapel, we have no further information on Carsten's occupation and sadly no further addresses to trace the families movements by. So far Trade and Post office Directories and other private directories of the 1800's have turned up nothing for the name of Carsten Hollings. This area of Whitechapel is known as Goodman's Fields and was home to a large number of German immigrants most of whom worked as sugar bakers

Brand Street, Holloway

Brand Street, Holloway.

We assume Johann Hoellings left Hanover to look for a better life in England for his family as many had done before and many, many more since. Did he find it or did he go back home never to return? Did he Anglicise his name to John? We can find no reference to Johann Hoellings/Hollings but many references to John Hollings, some of which could fit the bill. Considering this, it is sad to read how Carsten ended his days in poverty in a back street in Lower Holloway. The death certificate recorded his address as 19 Brand Street, which is near the Holloway Road railway station and is now the site of the London Metropolitan University.


George Thomas Hollings

George Thomas and Rachel family tree

George Hollings I was Baptised George Thomas Hollings on the 2nd June 1805, Old Church St Pancras. His Father was recorded as "Castin" Hollings and his mother Margaret. The next time we find George Thomas Hollings is his marriage to Rachel Wire but as with all early marriage records his occupation, address and the father's details are not recorded. Rachel was born in Colchester, Essex, Britain's oldest recorded town. She was baptised 10thAugust 1791 in Colchester, her parents were Benjamin and Rachel Wire. Benjamin was a builder and was to play a significant role in the future life of his son-in-law.

Duke Street, Quaker Street, Gibralter Walk

Duke Street, Quaker Street
and Gibraltar Walk

As was often the case George learnt his trade from his father. As a stone mason he would probably have been very confident about his future earning capacity as the rapid expansion of London continued to gain pace. With the almost constant demand for new Churches, houses, docks and warehouses, both on the River Thames and canalside through east London, George should have been a very busy man. Railways and stations were also beginning to spring up all over the land adding even more earning potential.
George married Rachel Wire on Christmas Day 1825, at St. Mary's Church, Islington by banns, suggesting that Rachel lived in that parish. We know George's father Carsten, was living in Holloway up until his death in 1839 so it may not be much of an assumption that George and Rachel's father were working together, or at the very least knew of each other. It appears Benjamin Wire was quite a wealthy man, in "A History of the County of Middlesex" he is recorded thus:

"...Benjamin Wire, a former cowkeeper, took a lease from Peter Gascoigne in 1806 and built west of Prince's Street by 1808....By 1812 the building line had reached Duke Street..." 2

St. John's Church, Bethnal Green

The modern day St. John's Church, Bethnal Green

Marrying the daughter of such a man would be a shrewd move indeed if one chose to view the marriage in a purely cynical light. Almost a year after the marriage to the day, 20th December their first child was born."George James Hollings" was baptised at St. Matthew's Church, Bethnal Green on 10th June 1827. The date of birth was given as 20th December 1826. The home address was given as Duke Street (a small side turning a little south of Columbia market.) and we learnt George's occupation for the first time, stone mason. Three years later George had a brother. James was born 2nd April, 1829 but not baptised until June 24th 1838, at St. John's Church, Bethnal Green. The father's occupation was again Mason but the address recorded this time was Green Street, without a number. We know from the 1841 census that the properties in Green Street were not numbered until well after 1841 and re-numbered about 1865 when some minor side streets were not only re-numbered but also re-named. Another three years on and George has another brother. Castin Hollings was born in 1832 but so far no baptism record has been found. Sadly his life was short and he died in 1835. He was buried on the 8th February in the Globe Fields Wesleyan Burial Ground in Globe Road, Stepney only part of which remains today. The burial registry entry has the residence recorded as Green Street. I wonder, was Castin considered an anglicisation of Carsten? or was it just a case of "I will spell it how it sounds..."
Benjamin died in September 1841 at number 2, Duke Street, Bethnal Green. In his will he left a list of over twenty properties to which he either owned the leases, or owned outright. To his daughter Rachel, he left two "...leasehold messuages or tenements..." numbers 4 and 11 New Street, Bethnal Green plus the "...rents issues and profits..." arising from the piece of freehold land adjoining number 100, Green Street, Bethnal Green. A rather curious error in his will was the spelling of his daughter's married name which was written as Holland rather then Hollings. This was corrected in his wife's will who died 10 years later in 1851 at the address of 7, Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green.

Green Street and East Street

Green Street and East Street Bethnal Green surrounded by fields

The next address we have is from the 1841 census, it is "Green Street, south side, from Globe Road to bridge" it must be assumed the houses in Green Street at that time, like most other houses, did not have numbers. The map above was drawn in 1827 and shows Bethnal Green as a rural area with a few streets surrounded by fields. In 1850 George Hollings purchased the lease 5 for "All that piece of ground situate on the south side of Green Street and the north side of East Street-Globe Town, Saint Matthew, Bethnal Green in the County of Middlesex" The earliest date on the lease is 25th February 1814 when a Mr. Benjamin Wire sold the piece of ground to Mr. John Sutton. From the wording on the lease it is apparent that Benjamin Wire had  retained some land next to the part he had sold on to John Sutton.

"............containing as well in front next Green street aforesaid as in the rear abutting south on East Street aforesaid forty five feet or thereabouts and from North to South as well on the East side abutting on a messuage or tenement and premises belonging to William Simpson as on the west abutting on a messuage or tenement and premises belonging to the said Benjamin Wire one hundred and thirty five feet or thereabouts with two messuages or tenements erected and built thereon"

103 Green Street

Ordnance Survey map Green Street-East Street in 1894

The lease passed to Mr. John Sutton at the cost of  twelve pounds twelve shillings per annum, (twelve shillings translates to sixty pence)  who sold it on until in 1849 Mr. Joseph Valentine Walsh defaulted on his mortgage and the Lease returned to the trustees of the "Hope Benefit Building Society." The lease was purchased by by George Hollings on 14th December 1850 for £116. On the 28th March 1865 George sold on the lease to Abraham Barnet for £140 with an additional payment of £62 10/- (£62. 50p) going to a Mr. Noah Smith 3 of Brassey Terrace, Victoria Park, (Bethnal Green) Builder - but this lease specified the property next door, 102 Green Street.

".......that piece or parcel of ground situate and being in the south side of Green Street Globe Town in the Parish of St Matthew Bethnal Green in the county of Middlesex containing as well in the front next Green Street aforesaid as in the rear abutting south in East Street Thirteen feet or thereabouts and from North to South as well in the east side abutting on a messuage or tenement and premises belonging to Mr John West as on the West abutting on a messuage or tenement and premises belonging to the said George Hollings seventy seven feet or thereabouts together with the messuage or tenement [erected] and built on the said [********] [******] and known as No 102 Green Street.

Green Street and East Street

Green Street-East Street layout
and the revised numbering

Exact details of what the lease covered is difficult to say. The measures given above in the first quoted paragraph are 45 feet width and 135 feet in length. (some versions of the lease state 145 feet in length) An indenture dated August 1905 goes into great detail listing eight properties on the land. The number sequence in the plan above for Green Street are accurate almost to the house. By using the Metropolitan Works Department's re-numbering plan I can place 103 Green Street opposite the Public House on the eastern corner of Norton Street. The original house numbers on the plan are coloured black, the replacement numbers are coloured blue. Note the direction of the house numbers has reversed. The plan is a copy of the Ordnance Survey map of 1870. It shows the layout of the streets and houses in great detail. The block coloured in red is the parcel of land I believe is covered by the lease mentioned above. I have also measured the parcel of land by enlarging the ordnance survey map and comparing the distance between Green Street and East Street and the distance between the two boundaries from 101 to 103 Green Street. The dimensions match those on the lease. The only area yet to be confirmed is the three houses in East Street. It seems inconceivable to me that my reasoning should be incorrect but as long as there is an element of doubt, I will try to find the confirmation that the three houses outlined in red are numbers 24, 25 and 26 East Street.

The 1851 census lists George Thomas Hollings as a Master Stone Mason employing two men,  George and James were now 24 and 21 respectively and were both Stone Mason journeymen. At the age of 46 George Thomas Hollings was marked down as being deaf.

Green Street circa. 1900

Green Street circa.1900

The picture to the left is Green Street around 1900. It shows what appears to be a bridge and whatever is passing underneath is causing quite a stir. The only bridge I can find any evidence of is one spanning the Regents canal which at this time would have been very busy with canal traffic travelling to and from the docks. The Regents canal was the M1 motorway of its time, it was built to link the Grand Junction Canal's Paddington Arm, which opened in 1801, with the River Thames at Limehouse.

Green Street cica.1912

Green Street cica.1912

To the right is another early picture of Green Street, dated 1912 and below left yet another one dated 19584. This photograph is part of a on-line collection owned by Ken Russell. The photograph was taken a year or two prior to the 1960 regeneration of the area. The photographer (unknown) is standing on the Green Street canal bridge facing west. The street immediately left in the picture is Palmer's Road. Centre picture is a zebra crossing, with streets off either side, to the left is Preston Street, to the right is Cranbrook road. The next turning along on the right from Cranbrook Road is Harold street and opposite was Violet Row. This sight would have been very familiar to George Thomas, George James and George Carsten Hollings, indeed it is quite likely that George Thomas and George James had a hand in building them, as when he moved here in the late 1830s much of this area was open fields. From the photograph we can see the area on the left (south side) of Green Street around Violet Row had already been demolished so much of the building work was well under way. The Greenways Estate as it was called would replace a large number of two up-two down terraced houses with numerous five storied blocks of concrete flats and Maisonettes. Green Street was later renamed Roman Road.

Green Street circa.1958

Green Street circa.1958

The 1861 census shows George Hollings age 56, still living at 103 Green Street with Rachel his wife and James his youngest son who by this time was thirty years of age and still unmarried. There is no mention of George  being deaf although we must assume he still was. His oldest son was now married, and living away, the address on his marriage certificate has him living at 16 Globe Road, Globe Town.

In the early part of 1862 Rachel Hollings died age 61. She would have only seen two of her three randchildren born to her eldest son George. The first Grandchild was a girl and named Rachel, the second, a boy, named George Carsten Hollings after his father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather. George Thomas Hollings lived on for another fifteen years. His youngest son James never married, staying home with his father.

The 1871 census now reads 198 Green Street but as I have shown this is the same house as 103. By now George is 66 years old, showing a remarkably unusual consistency with his age. James is now 42, displaying the more usual date and age regularity. Both men are unemployed stone masons.

It is pure supposition but by 1881 George's eldest son and his grandson were both bricklayers rather than stone masons. It is possible that the use of bricks was replacing stone in many structures, it was probably the cheaper option. It is possible that the demand for stone masons had fallen away and work was hard to come by. With the rapid expansion of London around Bethnal Green and Shoreditch it is more likely the demand for bricklayers was far higher. Maybe George Thomas and his son James did not keep up with the times.

George Thomas Hollings died in 1877 at the age of 72. Still living in Bethnal Green but not in Green Street. The address on his death certificate was 2,Smart Street, a small side road leading from Green Street to East Street. It is hard to understand why he was at this address unless he was being cared for by the occupant. The property 103/198 Green Street appears to have remained in the family until February 1889 when a an Indenture of Mortgage was drawn up between the Temperance Building Society and Josiah Phipps, (details from the 1905 lease) Also mentioned is Alice Rowcliffe, although I do not know in what context. In 1881 we know the address to be empty but local directories show in 1877 the house was being occupied by a Mr. Hooper.



1] "Essay on Sugar" - Robert Niccol - 1864. Written by Ian Rathjen (Thank you Peter Wheeldon)
2] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 103-109. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22746
3] Mr Noah Smith. The 1881 census lists a Noah Smith of 366 Old Ford Road Bethnal Green as a Builder.
4] Thank you to Ken Russel for allowing me to use this photograph follow this link for more pictures of Old Bethnal Green.
5] The legal documents for this lease can be viewed here.
10] Hanseatic Towns. From the German Hanse meaning "association". An organization founded in the late medieval period by northern German towns and merchant communities to protect their trading interests. Read more.


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