Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner ...

... that I love London Town. [Hubert Gregg, 1944]

Cor blimey! Strike a light, Guv! You’re a real toff and make no mistake!

I identify as Londoner. I was born sarf of the river in Greenwich Memorial Hospital and lived half my life in “Lunnun”. My father was also born south of the river in Battersea. Visiting my sister to clear out some old paperwork belonging to our late parents, we came across a piece of paper which noted that my paternal grandmother was a Cockney! I went and checked. Sure enough, she was born in Leyton, East London and the map shows that this is just within the sound of Bow Bells [Source: Quora]

Her father and his father before him (my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather) were both born in the parish of St George in the East. Wapping is definitely cockney territory. Unfortunately even with a change in the wind direction I find it hard to convince myself that it would have reached Greenwich and anyway I don't think south of the river counts so alas I am not true Cockney. However as far back as my genealogy research goes I am descended on my grandmother’s side from a long line of Cockneys. 

This prompted me to order my great-grandfather's death certificate to see if there was any truth in the family legend that he was killed trying to stop a runaway horse. That is possible given his occupation as Brewers Carman (carman = driver of horse-drawn vehicles for transporting goods). The death certificate gives the cause of death as "Exhaustion due to delirium tremens consequent upon injury received in accidental fall off dray he was driving on 27 Sept".

I am assuming that it is not DT in the alcohol withdrawal sense but shakes caused by some kind of brain injury. He died six days later on 02 October 1901. It is entirely plausible that the fall from the dray was caused by his horse bolting so I'm going with the heroic family legend. 

Well, would you Adam and Eve it! I am inordinately pleased about my Cockney roots.

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