3rd. February 1992

Dear Uncle Ted,

Thank you for your letter of 15th. January together with the "Family Name History" certificate. It was most interesting.

You will probably be aware that my main hobby is family history. So far I have traced the direct Aylward line back to 1789 when Robert Aylward married a Mary Brand.

Most of the family lived around Sudbury in Suffolk. Our ancestor moved to Bethnal Green around 1850. His brother, John, moved to Holborn and became a publican.

I have written a short article for our local family history magazine and have enclosed a copy as it may be of interest.

Trust you are keeping well.


 My grandfather, Herbert Charles Aylward, died in 1962 when I was quite young. Relatives have told me that his father, David, had died at an early age leaving four small children to be brought up by his widow, Sarah (nee Levy). The two eldest, both girls, remained with their mother whilst the boys Herbert and David Arthur, were sent to the children's home, St. Leonards, in Hornchurch.

My interest was thus aroused.

A brief word with Stephen Park referred me to the article he had written 'Records of the Shoreditch Board of Guardians' which appeared in C.A. No. 26 -Spring 1985. Armed with this information, a visit to the C.L.R.0. was a necessity.

At the C.L.R.0. I was able to examine numerous records including those for the Kingsland Road Workhouse, the infirmary at Hoxton Street and the cottage homes at Hornchurch. These provided a wealth of information.

The workhouse admissions (Sh. BC 139 - 5 & 6) show the father and boys being admitted at their own request in December 1898 for a short period. The male patients register (Sh. BC 149/10) shows David being admitted on 9 February 1900 to Ward 0 with pneumonia and dying there aged 48 on 12 February. The boys were admitted to the workhouse on 24 February 1900, their mothers address being given as 137 Mansfield Street, B.C. Herbert was discharged to the cottage homes on 13 March 1900 and David Arthur on 14 August 1900 similarly.

The register of children at the cottage homes shows Herbert as weighing 2 stone 6Ibs on his admission in 1900 (he would have been aged 3 years and 3 months). By May 1906 his weight was 4 stone and he is shown as being at Wellington Cottage.

In June 1900 the enquiry book (Sh. B.C. 131/4) shows that David Arthur was in the infirmary and that his mother (Sarah) was now living at 63 Warley Street B.C. The register of children records David Arthur as weighing 3 stone in August 1900 (aged 5 years and 4 months). In March 1903 he was discharged from the infirmary to a Convalescent Home in Herne Bay, Kent. In February 1904 he weighed 4 stone 2Ibs and Sarah's address is given as 18 Warley Street B.C.

Another gem of a find at the C. L. R.0 were three original programmes for the children's annual sports days at the cottage homes (Sh. BC 111/2/3/4) - 28 June 1900, 6 July 1911 and 2 July 1914. These included visits by the committee members, inspections of the cottages, infirmary, stores and workshops; musical drills, swimming races, sports etc. The prizes in 1900 comprised 'a new two-shilling piece', silver watches, writing cases etc. The programs record the names of committee members, senior staff members and the current holders of the various prizes.

Bringing matters more up-to-date an article in the Telegraph in April 1991 entitled 'An orphanage out in the cold' caught my eye. It was the sad story of the deterioration of the red brick Victorian buildings on what is now known as St. Leonards Hamlet, Hornchurch.

The developers, it would appear, were reneging on their contractual obligations as part of the permission, to build 250 homes on the 86 acre conservation site.

The article went on to say that the children's home was built in 1887-89 with the aim of creating a new type of orphanage. In 1984 the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, successor to the Shoreditch guardians who had built St. Leonard's, closed it and sold it to the developers.

Reference was also made to the novel written in 1900 by William Pett Ridge "A son of the State". This gives a fascinating insight to life at the cottage homes through the experiences of the hero Robert Lancaster who went to live in Collingwood cottage. I obtained a copy of the novel through the library lending service. My notes show references to Robert's early life around Drysdale Street Hoxton (where David and Sarah lived in the early 1890's). Life at the cottage homes was strict but fair, with conventional schooling, and workshops catering for tailoring, bootmaking, carpentry and engineering (for the girls cookery, laundry and needlework). Football and cricket were played against boys from private schools. Food was out of this world compared with what the orphans could expect in Hoxton.

To conclude, the guardians certainly appear to have achieved their aim of introducing the children, who were some of the most deprived in London, to a more domestic way of life. If any member is able to provide any further information I would be especially pleased to hear from them.


I found this while browsing for Aylward references

Waterford's role in the re-emergent Catholicism of the nineteenth century is surpassed only by Dublin. Vital to that process was education, and Waterford was the birthplace of the Irish Christian Brothers as well as Margaret Aylward, the founder of the Holy Faith Sisters. The Waterford accommodation Election in 1826 was the turning point in the Emancipation campaign. Per capita the city was the largest contributor to Daniel O'Connell's fund raising activities of the period. A local merchant's son Thomas Francis Meagher became a leader in the Young Ireland Movement and unveiled the tricolour for the first time in the city. To complete the progress to nationhood , it was a local man, John Joseph Hearne who framed the 1937 constitution.