This entry is the first on the National births,deaths and marriages register, which records the birth of a boy, Daniel Christian Weidhofft, at 5 Rampstone Villas, Hoxton. (Hoxton Old Town, Shoreditch,) London on the 13th of November 1838. The parents are recorded as Daniel Christian Weidhofft and Martha (formerly Baker). Daniel's occupation is given as brass finisher. the birth was registered by Martha Wiedhofft (spelt correctly, but signed with an X) on the 12th of December 1838.
Unfortunately the next record is the entry for 12th June 1839 for the death of young Daniel Christian in the Shoreditch registration district, (the spelling still had the transposed IE, this was the same registration district as his birth.). The certificate records the death of 7 month old Daniel Christian Weidhofft at Rampstone Place, Hoxton, child of a brass worker, "Accidental death from an overdose of a Narcotic medicine" signed W. Baker Coroner, 8 Crosby Sq. 18th June 1839. The burial of young Daniel took place at St John the Baptist Church, Hoxton (here the address is Rempstone Place).
Old drawing of St John the Baptist, Hoxton
Daniel Defoe, who lived in Stoke Newington, described Hackney in the 1720s as comprising of "twelve hamlets" and "having so many rich citizens that it contained nearly a hundred coaches". Important residents included the Governor of the Bank of England, who lived in Hackney House, Clapton in 1745 and the chief founder of the East India Company. But alongside these well heeled and influential denizens, who were attracted to the clean air and green pasture so close to the city, there were many poor labourers residing close to them who worked on the land. Between the twelve hamlets and the estates of the big houses were agricultural fields, market gardens and meadows.
The completion of the Regents Canal in 1820 meant building materials could be easily transported to the area, the De Beauvoir Estate, was planned as residences for the very well-to-do and the original 1820s plans show four tree filled squares with at their centre another large, octagonal, green space. It was never developed on the grand scale originally intended and was instead occupied in the 1840s by the newly emerging middle class.
In 1806 brickfields covered 170 acres of Hackney and in 1821 more than 70 labourers and their families were found to be actually living in the brickfields. In Shoreditch artisans operated from small workshops where they lived. Tailors, ironworkers, leather workers such as saddlers and cordwainers (shoe and boot makers) were all common. Printing and furniture makers were another two predominant industries in this area, particularly in the later period.
The furniture trade provided work for many small specialist trades such as french polishing and veneering, likewise with printing there was work for bookbinders and stationers. By Victorian times, although the industrial revolution had resulted in most industry moving from areas around the City walls to places where land was cheaper and goods could be produced on a large scale, some craftsmen had escaped the threat of mass production. These were people working in the finishing trades and with high value artefacts. Being close to fashionable markets, Shoreditch was ideally placed and traditionally the area had a pool of semi-skilled labour.
Life in Victorian Hoxton
The Victorian period, 1837-1901, saw the biggest changes to the landscape of Hackney. At the start of the period it was a collection of villages, by the end an inner London suburb.
A contemporary journalist described as 'motley, struggling, anxious and poverty-stricken' the Sunday crowds which frequented the shops and stalls of Hoxton Street, the long street running south/north in the middle of Shoreditch. It is not likely to have been an exaggeration. Shoreditch, with its mere 640 acres, had grown faster than any other London parish in the first half of the century and by 1851 had nearly 130,000 inhabitants. Although numbers declined thereafter, they did so only slowly. Sanitary conditions had begun to improve after the passing of the Metropolitan Management Act of 1855, which gave some rationality to the local government of London. The Shoreditch Vestry had worked with a will. By 1870 they had closed over 3,000 cesspools and installed over 5,000 water closets, and linked them to the drains. They had cleansed, repaired, scraped walls and liberally applied limewash and carbolic acid.
text extracted from bonsonhistory.co.uk
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