Middlesex, London, and some early Tickells

I was recently surprised to learn of Tickells living in the London area as early as the 16th century. Previously, I thought they were only found in the north of England, the Midlands, and the south-west of England at that time.

One family was brought to my attention by a descendant in Australia. I’ve been trying to find out more about them and their lives, but it has proved a difficult task. What I can do is to tell you a little about the Tickells I have found and the area they lived in.

The County of Middlesex

The map at the top of this post shows the ancient county of Middlesex. You can see the City of London in the lower right. Westminster and Marylebone lie to the west, and Finsbury and Tower Hamlets to the east. In early records events recorded in London may be shown as within Middlesex, rather than London.

Early Tickells

The earliest traces I’ve found of Tickells in London are the marriages of John Tickell to Alice Whitney on 26 Jun 1597, and of Joan Tickell to John Stanger on 21 May 1598. In the early 17th century there are a smattering of christenings and burials. These included two in St Andrew, Holborn, Middlesex in 1609 and 1611 of an Elizabeth and William Tickell (also shown as Tyckle), children of William. Boyd’s Marriage index contains the marriage of a William Tickell to Margaret Harris st St Dunstan-in-the-West in 1609, possibly the parents of these children.

St Helens, Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate

Boyd’s Inhabitants of London and Family Units, 1625, lists a George Tickell, a leather seller, who died in 1625. He was buried in St Helens Church, Bishopsgate, which dates from the 13th century. It was the parish church of William Shakespeare when he lived in the area at the end of the 16th century. Three children are also listed, George, Mary and Hugh. George was baptised on 19 June 1625, but his birth date is listed as 3 September 1625 (I believe it may have been 1623). Mary was born on 2 September 1624 and Hugh on 5 August 1625.

The same source, Boyd’s, shows another Tickell family in Stepney in 1641. This is John Tickell, his wife, Thomasin Tanner, and a daughter, Susan, born 1642. It’s not possible to ascertain if these families were related or if either of them were ancestors of the Tickell descendant I am interested in.

There are a number of other records for people who could possibly be Tickles or Tickells but whose names have been transcribed as Tuckle, Ticknell, Twickell etc.

17th Century London

London at that time was enclosed within the city walls with the River Thames as its southern boundary. It was surrounded by villages, farmland, woods, and hunting grounds. Inside the walls, in the poorer parts of the city, people lived in overcrowded tenements and garrets, with no sanitation. Open drains flowed down the middle of the cobbled streets, which were filthy with animal dung and slops thrown out of the houses. The streets were crowded with pedestrians, carts, horses and carriages. They buzzed with flies in the summer and were awash with sewage when it rained in winter. The poor, who were forced to walk, would be splashed by the carriage wheels, and could be drenched from above by slops and water falling from the rooftops.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the air was often full of a choking black smoke or fog. Most of the houses burned coal and the smoke from the domestic chimneys combined with that produced by factories and breweries. London smog (known as a pea-souper) was infamous even up to the 20th century.

Due to the overcrowding, many tradespeople and craftsmen lived in shanty towns outside the city walls. These consisted of wooden shacks, again with no sanitation. The government tried unsuccessfully to control this development but failed and up to a quarter of a million people lived in these shanty towns.

The 17th century was a turbulent time in England, with years of war and huge political and social upheaval. It saw the union of the crowns of Scotland and England, a period when the country became a republic, rather than a monarchy. The 17th century also saw the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes and his collaborates attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Other dramatic events included the Fire of London and the Great Plague, which I’ll write about in my next post.

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