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has been left to mark the entrance to the green as the former site of the church. St. Mary’s is part of the area of Spitalfields and Whitechapel (Picture left)27


. This green is


now called “Itchy Park” in not so subtle honor of the bug-infested transients who now regularly sleep in it at night. As early as the eighteenth century, parts of East London had turned into rookeries and slums, often used as hideaways by thieves and highwaymen. This area in our Spurgeon Family’s time would been surrounded by fields, hence the name of Spitalfields. The name of Mile End New Town where John and Elizabeth Spurgeon are shown in residence in James’ baptism record is found on John Rocque’s map of London in 1746; it shows this location to be in the vicinity of Mile End New Town Road and Dog Row and its breakoff lane, Red Cow Lane.28


Today, this area is in the area where Whitechapel Road runs into Mile End Road and


Cambridge Heath Road and near the Whitechapel tube stops. Red Cow Lane is now Cleveland Way. This is about a 1/4 mile east of the London Hospital of Whitechapel and almost to the block where in the summer of 1972 I stayed at the Whitechapel Methodist Chapel. Of interest is that to the north side of Mile End New Town on the east corner with Dog Row had stood in 1665 the district’s plague pit. Stepney had suffered with losing over 6,500 people. Soon after the map survey by John Rocque in 1747, the name Stepney began to replace that of Mile End. In 1730, the population of the whole of East London was approximately 120,000. When the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney was formed in 1900 its population alone was in the region of 300,000.29


I also


consulted the Bancroft Library, 277 Bancroft Road, E1 4DQ, which houses the Local History and Archives for the Tower Hamlets. I viewed their Personal Names Index that covers the period from Medieval to the present and which includes mainly title deeds, apprenticeship indentures, and wills but could find nothing under the Spurgeon surname. None of their other indices covered material or locations for this early period.


An interesting piece of information relates to the location of the mentioned abode of


Coverley Fields for John Spurgeon at the baptism of his son James in 1699. It was difficult placing where Coverleyfields was in 1699 in relationship to Mile End New Town. However, several sources help to identify and locate the area. It is in actuality west of the Whitechapel Tube Stop by only a few blocks and north of Whitechapel Road. Reference works relating to this area describe it thusly: “The conveyance of 1776 also shows that the eastern side of King Edward Street was still largely unbuilt. To the north Coverley’s Field remained unaltered but Pelham Street (now Woodseer Street) was being extended eastward to their westward boundary and building on the north side of this extension, later called Pleasant Row was under way….”30


The exact coordinates


for Coverley Fields are found bordered today by Deal Street (west, formerly Albert Street), Underwood Street (north), Vallance Road (east, formerly Charles Street), and Hanbury Street (south, formerly Church Street).31


Coverleyfields was located within Mile End New Town so John


Spurgeon didn’t move in between his sons’ baptisms, but his residence was recorded in two different ways, one specifically and the other generally. The following map section, made from a 1747 map, shows the location of Coverley Fields as ascertained by a comparison of maps of the area made in 1873, 1913, and 1930. In the A To Z Map of London of 1990, a short street running


27 Picture from Thomas Shepherd, London in the Nineteenth Century, 1827. 28Ibid., p. 84. 29Ibid., p. 83. 30“Survey of London, Spitalfields and Mile End New Town,” Vol. XXVII, p. 280. 31“Bartholomew’s Handy Reference Atlas of London,” (1930), p. 35.


© 1993 Spurgeon Family History by Dr. Gary Alan Dickey, 1546 Devonshire Avenue, Westlake Village, CA 91361 • p. 14


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