Stoke Newington – where family history and literature meet.

As well as in interest in family history, I like to read. The American Boy, by Andrew Taylor is one of the books I am currently reading. This historical drama is set around 1818 in Stoke Newington.

This is a work in progress. Some sections are merely skeletons

The American Boy

The main character of the book is a former soldier, suffering from what would now be recognised at PTSD, having fought, amongst other places, at Waterloo. He takes a job as a schoolteacher at the Manor House school. He is fictional, but some other characters and places are historic.


Edgar Allan Poe

Although born in America he attended the Manor House school for a couple of years (from about 1817 to 1820) when his step-parents were Britain.

The Reverend John Bransby

The founder and head teacher of the Manor House school, he had previously attended St John’s College and then been a deacon at St Mary’s Church in Stoke Newington.


In the 1820’s Stoke Newington was a small village, with a church, the school, which was a little way out of the village, a public house and some houses.

The Manor House School

Although the Manor house school no longer exists there is a plaque to show where it was.

Family History

Both my father’s side of the family, in Lines and Freeman branches and my mother’s side, in the May, Cansdale and Webster families lived in Stoke Newington,

The earliest involvement of family members that I can trace seems to be Joseph May in the 1851 Census, and Stoke Newington changed quite a lot since the 1820s with a lot of building turning it into a bustling urban environment.

Lines family

Joseph Lines (1848-1931)

He died, in 1931, at 144, Lordship Road, Stoke Newington.

Freeman family

Ralf Freeman was born in 1880 at 88, Rendlesham Road, West Hackney

In the 1901 Census the Freeman family, headed by George James, with Ralf, 20 and already an Engineer, and Edith, Arnold, Bernard (Peter), Frank, Ada and Ellen were living at 6, Woodberry Down, Finchley. This is very close to St Olave’s Church, where Ralf Freeman married Mary Lines, daughter of Joseph Lines in 1908.

May family

Joseph May (1827-1903)

His father, Samuel May(1795- ) was born in Spitalfields, and was living there as a Widower, occupation Plasterer, in the 1851 Census.

Joseph, the only son of Samuel’s six children, was born in 1827 in Bethnal Green, and his address when he married Elizabeth Sadler in 1847 looks like Morris Street, Hoxton.

In the 1851 Census he was living at 54, Pullens Place, which is now part of Islington High Street. The York pub, was built about 1851 at 2, Pullins place, and before that the whole area had been farmland. There is a sketch by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd of the York Hotel in the London Picture Archive.

Cansdale family

Lillian Gladys Cansdale (1901-1972)

My Grandmother, daughter of Harold James Cansdale (1866-1947) and Elizabeth May(1865-1942), she appears in the 1901 Census, living at 43, Prince George Road, Stoke Newington.

She was baptised at St Mary’s church in Stoke Newington.

Webster family

In 1871 the Webster family, William, Elizabeth(nee Reitze), William Justus, Ada (who later married John Robert Box), Janet and Alice were living at 124, Albion Road.


The map shows some of the relevant sites in Stoke Newington – currently

  • The Manor House School
  • Pullens Place
  • 43, Prince George Road
  • St Mary
  • 124, Albion Road
  • 6, Woodberry Down
  • St Olave’s Church
  • 512, Caledonian Road
  • 88, Renelsham Road

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