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Family History in Southwark: A Guide to Tracing your Southwark Ancestors by Leonard Reilly. c. 1996. Illustrated, map. 40 pp. Softcover. £1.95. Southwark: An Illustrated History by Leonard Reilly. c. 1998. Illustrated, maps. 92 pp. Softcover. £:6.95. Both published by London Borough of Southwark, Southwark Local Studies Library, 211 Borough High Street, London SE1 1JA.

Family History in Southwark is a short guide to tracing ancestors in the area, describing relevant sources, services and resources of the Southwark Local Studies Library and information on places for further research. The emphasis is on the contents of the library but this guide provides a detailed outline of the types of records that are likely to be available for your research. For example, it points out that there were 10 ancient parishes in the Southwark area which were later divided into 72 administrative parishes. All these are listed with the dates at which the registers begin. It correctly points out that many of the registers themselves are at the Greater London Record Office, thus telling you where to look. The book also covers many record groups of importance to genealogists: non-conformist registers, census returns, electoral registers and poll books, directories, cemetery records and monumental inscriptions, newspapers, poor law records, taxation records and more. This is an inexpensive valuable guide for anyone researching in the area.

Southwark: An Illustrated History forms a valuable companion to the above guide because without understanding the history of the community you cannot make educated genealogical research decisions. This book provides a history of the area, including the communities of Bermondsey, Camberwell, Rotherhithe, Horselydown and Newington. The book is divided into seven time periods: early history; medieval and pre-reformation 1100-1540; early modern 1540-1700; urbanization 1700-1830; suburbanization Camberwell 1830-1900; city ignored Southwark, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, 1830-1900; twentieth century. Each chapter is well illustrated with some great color images, photographs and prints, extracts from contemporary documentary sources plus good descriptions of the places, industries and people. This book provides a good image of how the city obtained a lot of the occupations, activities and trades that the city of London itself did not want, e.g. prostitutes, prisons, tanneries, and weapons. It is here that many of the unwanted immigrants settled. It is this type of valuable history that provides the clues on knowing where and how to research for ones ancestors in this area. This is a good inexpensive research tool giving a good overview of the area.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.6 no.1, 1999