Our London Adventure- St Paul’s Cathedral and the surrounding area.

Our cruise ship the Marco Polo returned to Tilbury on Tuesday 29th July. After we disembarked we took a train to London, where we had arranged accommodation to stay for several days, while we took in some of the sites, and did some family history research at the National Archives.

One of the places I wanted to visit was St Paul’s Cathedral. The present St Paul’s is the fifth cathedral to have stood on the site since 604AD.

My Baxter ancestors had lived close by St Paul’s for several generations. For nearly fifty years, their parish church had been St Faith’s- under-St Paul’s.

To begin our London adventure we had taken a train to St Paul’s Station, which is adjacent to the cathedral.

We entered the cathedral by the main entrance to join a tour. A visit to this magnificent church was a very moving experience for us. However, we were very disappointed not to be able to take photographs inside. We did visit the bookshop to purchase postcards and books to complement our outside photos.

The most important area of St Paul’s Cathedral, as far as our family is concerned, is what is known today as the OBE Chapel, but was formerly known as St Faith’s-under -St Paul’s.

St Faiths was originally in Castle Baynard Ward, and was one of the ancient churches of London..

The original church was at the eastern end of Paternoster Row, a street adjacent to St Paul’s. In 1256, St Faith’s was pulled down for the expansion of St Paul’s. The church was not rebuilt, but the parishioners were given space to worship in the actual crypt under St Paul’s Cathedral, hence the name St Faith’s-Under-St Paul’s. It was destroyed along with St Paul’s in the Great Fire of London.

When the new St Paul’s was built to Christopher Wren’s design between 1675 and 1711, the new chapel of St Faith’-under-St Paul’s was built in the east end of the crypt. This is where the children of James and Elizabeth Baxter (nee Dixon) were baptised between 1767 and 1784.

In 1960 this chapel became the spiritual home of the Order of the British Empire, and award holders of the OBE, and members of their family, may still be baptised and married here.

Another church which stood close by St Paul’s was St Augustine’s Watling Street. It was here that James Baxter had married Elizabeth Dixon by banns on 29 August 1766.


This church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 too, but was rebuilt facing Watling Street in the 1680s.Its distinctive tower was constructed in the 1690s and it is thought to have been designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

The church was destroyed in 1940 in a World War II bombing. It was not rebuilt, but the tower was reconstructed as part of a new choir school for St Paul’s Cathedral.

There has been considerable recent development on the northern side of St Paul’s, including what would have been Paternoster Row and Ivy Lane, where the Baxter family lived in the 18th Century. We judged it would have been about where Paternoster Square is now. What really surprized me was the entrance to the square- Temple Bar.


In a former blog I wrote about a coloured print that hangs on my office wall called ‘The York Mail Leaving Temple Bar’. This ornate arch designed by Christopher Wren had stood on a section of the roadway where Fleet Street (City of London) became the Strand (Westminster).

In Medieval times the authority of the City of London Corporation reached beyond the ancient city walls in several places and these were known as the ‘Liberties of London’. To regulate trade in the city, barriers were erected on the major roads wherever the true boundaries were a substantial distance from the old gate house,. Temple Bar was one such place.

A Wikipedia entry from the Internet gives an interesting history of this London icon, a summary of which I have included below.

The first record of the bar was in 1293, and was probably a simple barrier such as a chain between some posts. More substantial structures with arches soon followed. By the late Middle Ages a wooden archway (with a prison above) stood on the spot.

Although it was spared in the Great Fire of London, it was decided in the rebuilding of the city, a new structure should be erected. Christopher Wren was commissioned to design this arch. This he did, and between 1669 and 1672 the beautiful Portland stone arch was erected.

Some two hundred years later the City of London Corporation, eager to widen the roadway, had it taken down. It was soon purchased by the wealthy brewer, Henry Meux and was re-erected as the gateway into his estate, Theobald Park, in Hertfortshire.

In 1984, a hundred years on, it was repurchased by the City, from the Meux Trust for £1, and brought back to London and incorporated into the Paternoster Row area and now marks the entrance to the Square.

What a fitting home for Wren’s beautiful arch, beside perhaps his greatest achievement, St Paul’s Cathedral.

The other entrance to Paternoster Square is the Newgate Street entrance. This was originally the other end of Ivy Lane, where my Baxter family lived.

Just along Newgate Street and around the corner was the ‘Old Bailey’ where my ancestor, Thomas George Baxter had first faced the Court in 1832.

We retraced our steps along Newgate Street and crossed the road at the King Edward Street intersection, to the ruins of Christ Church Greyfriars. This was the church in which my ancestor George Baxter married Mary Brayne Kington on 13 Aug 1809.


Another extract from Wikipedia- The original church was constructed between 1306 and 1348, as the church of a Franciscan monastery. This church ranked as the second largest in Medieval London.

The church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was rebuilt, although not as large, to the design of Christopher Wren..

Over the next 300 years significant modifications were made. The church was destroyed in a World War II blitz on 29 December 1940.

The Tower survived, and today is used as offices, but the ruined nave and other sections of the church were not rebuilt, and now is a beautiful park in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.

We continued our walk up King Edward Street a short distance to an area known as Little Britain. This where my ancestors, George and Mary Brayne Baxter were living when their eldest children were baptised.

We then crossed King Edward Street in front of the old Post Office, and entered an ancient gate with a plaque announcing it was part of Greyfriars. This led us into a beautiful park, which is now known as Postman Park.

This area was originally the burial grounds of St Botolph’s, St Leonard Foster and Christ Church Greyfrairs. Even today you can see the odd monument tucked away in the corner, or a row of headstones hidden amongst the foliage against a wall.

This is also the site of the George Frederic Watts Memorials to the Heroic Self Sacrifice of the Ordinary people. There are several wall- tile memorials in a covered area and is an interesting place to visit. You can find the history of the place on several websites on the Internet, as well as many photos.

On the other side of the park we found St Botolph’s Church, which was facing Aldersgate Street. This was the church where most of the children of George and Mary Bayne Baxter were baptised between 1810 and 1822.

The Medieval church was a Gothic building and although it escaped the Great Fire of London, by the 18th Century was deemed unsafe and was demolished about 1788. Under the supervision of Nathaniel Wright a new brick church was built on the foundations of the old church, with a low square bell tower at the west end.

After a quick visit to this church, which we could only view from the outside, we made our way back to Cheapside and headed down towards London Bridge.


More Research on our George and Mary Brayne Baxter Family in London

As promised I continue my research preparation for my trip to Britain.

I have mentioned in  former blogs I am preparing to visit Britain in a few weeks to attend a Family History Cruise with Unlockthepast on board the Marco Polo. Full details of this Conference Cruise can be found at www.unlockthepastcruises.com/

After the cruise I plan to spend a few days in London at various archives and libraries researching and getting copies of documents that have not been catalogued or scanned, in the hope of finding more information on some of our families..

I have stated in former blogs my maternal ancestor Thomas George Baxter b 1816 was transported to Sydney on board the Roxburgh Castle as a convict in 1832.

I have spent considerable time researching not only the life of Thomas George as a child, but also his parents, George and Mary Brayne Baxter, and their circumstances. Although Thomas George was termed an ‘errand boy’ on his convict indents, we do know that his father was a ‘bookbinder’, as it is recorded on Thomas George Baxter’s, death certificate, as well as his church baptism entry and those of his siblings.

In the London Directories of the early 19th Century, George Baxter is listed as a ‘bookbinder’.

For many years a coloured print called ‘The York Mail Leaving”,has hung on my wall . It is a picture of a London Street, with a stage coach in the foreground. There in the middle of the picture is ‘Baxter Bookseller’” shop. I always wondered if it was connected to our Baxter family. Was it possible to find out.?

As a ‘bookbinder’ is an occupation of the ‘book trade’ one could assume that the father, George Baxter might belong to the the guild usually associated with the trade, which is the Stationer’s Guild.

A brief history of this Guild can be found at


The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (usually known as the Stationers’ Company) is one of the Livery Companiesof the City of London.

In 1403, the Corporation of London approved the formation of a Guild of Stationers. At this time, stationers were either text writers, lymners (illuminators), bookbinders or booksellers who worked at a fixed location (stationarius) beside the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral.” Booksellers sold manuscript books, and later printed copies thereof produced by their respective firms for retail..

Printing gradually displaced manuscript production so that, by the time the Guild received a Royal Charter of Incorporation on 4 May 1557, it had in effect become a Printers’ Guild. In 1559, it became the 47th in City Livery Company precedence…..l. During the Tudor and Stuart periods, the Stationers were legally empowered to seize “offending books” that violated the standards of content set down by the Church and State…”.

The Stationers’ Charter, which codified its monopoly on book production, ensured that once a member had asserted ownership of a text (or “copy”) no other member was entitled to publish it. This is the origin of the term “copyright”. Members asserted such ownership by entering it in the “entry book of copies” or the Stationers’ Company Register..

Stationers’ Hall is at Ave Maria Lane near St Paul’s Cathedral. The building and hall date from circa 1670. “

On the subscription websites of The Genealogist Findmypast  and Ancestry.com there are numerous indexes and documents associated with apprenticeships, Freedom of the City, taxes and rates of the City of London. There are many references to the Baxter surname, and several George and James, some of whom were in the time period of interest for our family. There were even some Baxter’s belonging to the Stationers Guild.

It was time to make a list of all those who could have a possible link, and investigate each one, until I believed that they had no connection. This step takes much time searching all available records.

One of those I investigated was Gilpin Baxter of Hertfordshire, who was apprenticed to William Tricketts a “Citizen and Stationer of London”in 1733. On the completion of his apprenticeship he became a member of the Stationer’s Guild and had the Freedom of the City to trade. He had bookshops in Cornhill, and Leadenhall Street. He also had a number of apprentices including- Richard Sheppard, 1761; Dan Forster, 1766; Benjamin Barons, 1773; John Clarke, 1777 and Samuel Gardener in 1781. Gilpin Baxter married Rachel North. Unfortunately he suffered a change of fortune and was declared bankrupt. He appears to have returned to the family seat in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire where he died in 1795.

By using clues in the my picture on the wall such as the Temple Bar, and businesses, which I traced through directories and tax records, I can confirm that the shop ‘Baxter Bookseller’, is that of ‘Gilpin Baxter’. However is he connected to our family?

In a former blog I wrote about how I was able to establish that George Baxter’s parents were James and Elizabeth Baxter (nee Dixon). This I was able to confirm from parish register’s of St Faiths, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Their address was Ivy Lane, off Paternoster Street. In his will written in 1796, James Baxter’s occupation was given as ‘claspmaker’, another connection to the book trade.

I now have a copy of Gilpin Baxter’s will, but there is no information, which would connect our family at St Faith’s. Nor in the apprenticeship records connected to Gilpin Baxter, were there any of his apprentices by the name of Baxter, Dixon or any surname known to be connected to our family.

I continued to research all persons on the my list, but found no connection to the Stationers’ Guild and our family.

It was time to look elsewhere. I went back to the Freedom of the City records on Ancestry.com where there was a ‘George Baxter’ who was granted the Freedom of the City with an approximate date of 1807-1808.

I have noted that in many on-line Baxter trees in Ancestry.com as well as other commercial sites this document appears to be attached to our family line, but no one has explained why they have attached this document. It appeared to me, it is just because it was there, and for no other reason.

I do not dispute that this record is connected to our family, but will now explain the research and how I know and can prove it is so. Note this is for the ‘Haberdashers’ Guild’ not for the ‘Stationers’ Guild.

I downloaded and printed out the scanned document referenced as from the London Metropolitian Archives. This document stated that ‘George Baxter, was son of James Baxter Citizen and Haberdasher of London, the claim was one of Patrimony, and he was presented by Warden Samuel Spence. There followed a list of signatures all of whom were Citizen’s and some Haberdashers. It was also notated with the address ‘Ivy Lane, Newgate Street and ‘Copy 1765- Born 1782.”

I found a similar document for “James Baxter, son of James Baxter “. I believe this James Baxter is the elder brother of our George Baxter. However I need to do more research on this document before I can claim it completely.

Another useful extract from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worshipful_Company_of_Haberdashers

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers is one of the senior Livery Companies of the City of London. The organisation, following on from the Mercers’ Company, another Livery Company connected with clothing and haberdashery, received a Royal Charter in 1448 and has records dating back to 1371

A haberdasher is a person who sells small articles for sewing, such as buttons, ribbons, zips and other notions such as pins and needles.

The Company ranks eighth in the order of precedence of Livery Companies; as such it is regarded as one of the “Great Twelve City Livery Companies”.

This Company has its own website at http://www.haberdashers.co.uk/. It has also commissioned two histories of the Company, by Ian Archer. I purchased the first of these called, ‘The History of The Haberdashers’ Company,” which was published in 1991. I found this publication invaluable for my research, particularly Appendix 1, which is a List of Masters and Wardens, 1582-1990. From this list I can confirm that Samuel Spence was a warden of the Haberdashers’ Guild in 1807.

Before we add this document to our family it is well to stop at this stage and ask ourselves have we followed the Golden Rule of Genealogy to confirm our research, that is moving from the known to the unknown.

We can confirm from other records including St Faith’s Baptism registers that James Baxter was born in 1770 and George Baxter 1782, as well that both were sons of James and Elizabeth Baxter (nee Dixon). The family’s address can be confirmed from burial and tax records. We know that the father James Baxter,deceased at this time, was a member of the Company because the claim is by ‘Patrimony. ‘Copy 1765’ refers to the father’s registration in the company registers.

I will explain more about James Baxter’s admission and membership of this Guild in a later blog.

Family members and others, please remember this research and blog are copyright to myself. If you wish to add this to your own family research either on-line or other forms of notes and publication please do the right thing and acknowledge my work.

I have been researching and writing for over forty years and have researched and written about many of my family lines, some back to the Middle Ages. I have always generously shared my research, but now find much of it has been ‘cut and pasted’ straight onto the ‘net’ under other peoples name.

Some of my published family book lineages have been keyed into large data bases and uploaded without one reference to where it came from. In this case it is not only my work that has been disregarded, but there is no acknowledgment of the many other family members and researchers who contributed to the publication, all of whom I named and acknowledged in the printed book.

Now all you ‘instant genealogists’ and new to family history research get into the spirit of the game, and acknowledge all those friends and family, who help you along this journey of discovering your ancestors. Remember Ancestry.com and other big sites can only point you in the right direction if someone has done the work and it has been put on their site, be it scanned documents or family trees. Or they have partnership arrangements with other archives, libraries and repositories to access their records. Do try to find out about the original depositor, author or owner of the records used. It takes many people and many records so that you can press a button and access ‘your family history’.

Please show you are at least a little grateful for this privilege.