Samuel Crowder emigrated to South Africa on the sailing ship “John Bright” from Gravesend with his wife Mary Northcott and 8 children in England on 11 Feb 1851. He was 56 years old. What made the family decide to emigrate ? Could these maps give us a clue, or at the very least describe the area where he and his family lived? He is listed on the 1841 census as a “Cane dealer” (furniture), and lived at 13 Sun Street, Bishopsgate in London.
A description of the street Sam Crowder’s family lived in (40 years previously) is described in his notebooks as ‘Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earnings’, however one block behind Sun Street is Whitecross Lane, which is classified as Lowest class, vicious semi-criminal.
Charles Booth accompanied police constable Ryeland on a walk through the district in which Sam Crowder previously lived in May 1898. (Sam emigrated to South Africa in 1851). In it, he describes Sun Street as “North up Clifton St, small shops on E side, habitation on West. This and Sun St. is a centre for the saddlery and horseclothing trade. On the East side is a court, Brown’s Bldg’s – 8 houses, 2 stories, tenanted by butchers market porters. Poor. Quiet. ?? at windows. Looks respectable.”
Just one block from where Sam Crowder lived is Whitecross street, described in Charles Booth’s notebooks from his walk with the police constable Ryeland as “West along Whitecross St. flag paved. On the South side are Model (??) Dwellings, On the North side, a succession of small courts. ‘A rough criminal spot in the midst of most valuable property’. ‘A dangerous place for policemen on a Saturday night about closing time, each man on the beats looks out for his neighbour so that help may be at hand if needed’ said Ryeland. He knows of 8 or 9 men from this street doing long terms now. The buildings on the south side are 5 storied & on a board was ‘one, two or 3 rooms from 3/6 to 7/6 per week.” Inhabitants Irish Cockneys.
The notebooks also describe an overall general assessment of the area: “Note the encroachment of factories upon spaces formerly occupied by dwelling houses. Five & six storied model dwellings are with few exceptions the only habitations of artisans in the district. These exceptions are a few courts in the neighbourhood of Sun street occupied by a rough criminal class. The sooner they are cleared away the better. The trades of the district are Saddlery, Printing, & a small amount of cabinet making & tailoring. In addition, there is a vast amount of warehousing of all kinds.
In the baptism record of Samuel Crowders sons (James & Theophilus) in 1818, his occupation is described as Cabinet Maker. In the 1841 census, it was ‘Cane Dealer’.
Sun Street today
Images from Google Streetview