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Bishop of Stepney, was ‘glowing in the love of all its thousand-year history.’”15


Of this area is


written: “Of all the parts of London … 250 years ago, Stepney was perhaps the least populated. Leaving aside the village clustered around the church of St. Dunstan’s, and a few dwellings on either side of Mile End New Town, the map emphasizes the rural character and setting of Old Stepney … Lying some miles from London, Stepney was much used as a convenient burial ground … The Essex Road leading to the east is now our Bow Road, but in the 1740’s it was still the main highway for travellers journeying to Essex and East Anglia … In his London Spy of 1698 (the year of James Spurgeon’s birth) Ned Ward describes a coach journey from Stratford to Whitechapel along the Essex Road and Mile End Old Town (through which one passes through Mile End New Town) … Few buildings then lay between St. Dunstan’s and the Thames, thus accounting for its name as the ‘Church of the High Seas.’ Traditionally any child buried at sea was a parishioner of this church … fundamentally … the ‘East End’ was a product of nineteenth century industrialisa- tion and a marked growth in population. Until then Mile End Old Town, Bow and Stepney were indeed little more than the Tower of London’s hamlets.”16


For several hundred years after its foundation, St. Dunstan’s was the only church outside


the City’s two eastern gates. A simple plan drawn in the time of Samuel Pepys in 1681 shows the rural nature of the area around St. Dunstan’s at that period. It shows it as a village once ruled by the Lord of the Manor with cottages and gardens generally associated with rural areas rather than London suburbs:


Trying to discover the birthplace and birthdates of James and William was difficult.


London is a huge city and there are many Spurgeons listed in each of the many parish church records in the East End. There are, however, three interesting christening records at St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, One for a James Spurgin, of Coverleyfields, baptized 22 January 1698/99 (born 1 January); Elizabeth Spurgins, of Coverleyfields, baptized 16 Nov 1701 (born 13? Nov 1701); and a William Spurgin, of M N Town (Mile End New Town), baptized 28 May 1704 (born 7 May).17


The names for the parents in all three baptism entries are the same: John and Elizabeth,


15Cox, Jane, “London’s East End: Life and Traditions,” (London, 1994), Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p. 23. 16Ibid., p. 95. 17“St. Dunstan, Stepney Parish Church Records,” FHL# 595,418; FHL# 597,250. Also consulted was the transcription of these records in R. H. D’elboux, “The Registers of St. Dunstan’s in the East, London,” (London, 1958), Harleian Society) and could likewise find no listings.


© 1993 Spurgeon Family History by Dr. Gary Alan Dickey, 1546 Devonshire Avenue, Westlake Village, CA 91361 • p. 11


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