Joseph Gordon

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Born: Died: Married: Mary Healey Mother: Father: Samuel Gordon Descendant: Samuel Gordon
Census 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921

Joseph Gordon, a labourer, was listed as the father of Samuel Gordon at his marriage in 1876.

On Samuel's birth certificate in 1855 his father was Joseph Gordon living a 11 Plough Alley, and his mother was Mary Gordon (neé Healey).

In 1861 there is a Samuel Gordon living with his parents at 11 Plough Alley.

Sounds simple.... however Joseph didn't marry Mary Healey until 1860, five years after Samuel's birth. At least there is only one record of a Joseph Gordon (a widow) marrying a Mary Healey, and they live at Union Street a few miles away, not Plough Alley.

Later there is a Joseph Gordon married to a Catherine. Again, no marriage recorded, and no death of Mary...

His marriage certificate and the 1861 census put his birth year around 1814-1815.

Whereas the 1851 census puts him born in around 1809 in Wapping, Middlesex. He was (maybe) a mariner and labourer.

He subsequently married Mary Healey in the last quarter of 1860. She was born in around 1828 in Cork Ireland.


One Joseph Gordon was born on the 14th June 1812 in Gun Alley, Wapping, and baptised on the 18th October 1812 at St John, Wapping, Green Bank, Middlesex.

His father was called Samuel Gordon and was a seaman. His mother's first name was Mary.

First Marriage

He married a Mary who was born in around 1810 in the parish of St George in the East, London, Middlesex.

On the night of 30 March 1851 Joseph Gordon and his wife Mary were living at 4 Plough Alley, Wapping. In the Burroughs of Tower Hamlets, and the parish of Saint George in the East. They had no children listed as being with them, which begs the question, where was their daughter Mary? Don't worry for her, she reappears in the 1861 census. It's likely they just forgot to include her. Joseph was listed as a labourer.

Mary was probably dead by 1855 when Samuel was born... although given that Joseph didn't marry Samuel's mother until 1860 then maybe not...

The only related death I can find was a Jane Mary Crowden (which looks a bit like Gordon), buried in Tower Hamlets in 1854.


He had the following children:

  • Mary Gordon, born around 1849 in St George (in the East).
  • Samuel Gordon, born on the 17th April 1855 at 11 Plough Alley, St George (In the East), Middlesex.
  • Hannah Gordon, born around 1858 at 11 Plough Alley, St George (in the East), Hannah Healy baptised 7th Feb 1858, St. George in the East.

By the time Hannah was born, it appears that the church had realised that Joseph and Mary were not married, so when she was baptised on the 7th February 1858 at St. George's in the East (Wapping/Tower Hamlets) then they wrote Joseph's name, but then crossed it out, and the surname Healy was recorded. Strangely though the mother's name was also written as Hannah. Why I think this is Mary Healey is because the address is given as 8 Plough Alley. But maybe this wasn't Mary, maybe she had a sister called Hannah... I can find no other candidates for Hannah's baptism from Dec 1857 to August 1858 at St George's.

At the same time (well June 1855) as Joseph was recorded in the church registers as living at 11 Plough Alley, so was a couple called James and Susannah Wenden (he was a shoemaker). From the census it appears the houses in Plough Alley were split into multiple dwellings). The Wenden's were already living at number 11 in 1851, when the Gordons were recorded as being at number 4. Any by searching for the Wendens in the 1861 census we find the Gordons, who have been mis-recorded as Gordings.

  • BMD:B: Hannah Gordan, Q1 1858, St Geo East, 1c 466

Second Marriage

Joseph Gordon married Mary Healey on the 1st December 1860 at the parish church of St Leonard, Shoreditch.

1860. Marriage solemnized at this parish church in the parish of St Leonard Shoreditch in the County of Middlesex
When Married. Name and Surname. Age Condition. Rank or Profession Residence at the Time of Marriage Father's Name and Surname Rank or Profession of Father
1 December 1860 Joseph Gordon 46 Widower Mariner 16 Union St. Samuel Gordon Mariner
Mary Healey 31 Spinster Servant 8 Union St. Daniel Healey Labourer
Married in the parish church according to the Rites and Ceremonies by, or after banns by me, R.S.L.Brockman B.A. Curate
This marriage was solemnized between us + the mark of Joseph Gordon In the Presence of us Henry Wilton
+ the mark of Mary Healey Emily Wilton

So, on the night of 7th April 1861 Joseph Gordon and his second wife Mary Healey were living at 11 Plough Alley, Wapping. In the Burroughs of Tower Hamlets, and the parish of Saint George in the East. They had his three children with them, Mary (12), Samuel (6) and Hannah (3). Joseph was still listed as a labourer.

There is one big problem with all this though - on the birth registration for Samuel Gordon, in 1855, the father is Joseph Gordon (match) but the mother is given as Mary Gordon (neé Healey) which is 5 years before they got married! The ages of the Joseph and Mary in the marriage certificate do match those of the Joseph and Mary in the 1861 census though.

Also the addresses on the 1860 marriage certificate are for Union Street in Shoreditch. But we know they were at 11 Plough Alley in 1855, and again in 1861, and we know that Joseph Gordon was a labourer (1861), not a mariner (1860). Why does the certificate say Union St?

  • did they lie about their address in order to marry in this particular church?
  • had they relocated to Union Street temporarily? Plough Alley was known to flood.
  • Were they in fact not in Union Street in Shoreditch, or another Union Street? Or perhaps they were referring to Union Stairs as an area (not a road).

Checking who was in Union Street in 1861 (a few months after the wedding), there are no signs of any Gordons or Healeys. The houses there appear to be split into 2 or 3 dwellings per address, typically with just a husband and a wife.. No. 8 has Sheringham, Smith, and Curtis families. No. 16 has a warehouse only.

There don't appear to be any other Gordons (or Gordings) that match this family, so there don't appear to be two families with the same names.

Plough Alley was badly hit by flooding, and in 1869 was flooded to a depth of 7 feet. It was also notorious for outbreaks of smallpox, being commented upon in the newspapers in 1862.

10 & 11 Plough Alley were being advertised for sale in August 1867 (let at £30 - I assume the total rents for all the families there).


Searching for all Joseph Gordons of roughly the right age who died in London between 1856-1896 we find:

  • Joseph Gordon (~1807), 72, Q4, 1879, Mile End Town 1C, 419
  • Joseph Gordon Q2, 1862, Whitechapel, 1C, 275

(There are also some other similar names: Joseph Arthur Gordon, Arthur Joseph Gordon, Bernard Joseph Gordon, etc).

Other References

The marriage of Joseph Gordon to Mary Healey was registered in Shoreditch in Oct/Nov/Dec 1860 (vol:1c page:537).

  • 1850 - Joseph Charles Gordon born to Joseph Gordon and Elizabeth Ann 6 Cross Keys Mews St Marylebone, Middlesex.
  • 1857 Joseph William Gordon born to Joseph William Gordon and Susannah in 2 Cumberland, Hackney Road, Shoreditch.
  • 1859 Matilda Alice Gordon born to Joseph Gordon (Waterman) and Matilda Ann, 2 Lower Green Alley. St George in the east.
  • 1861 John Gordon born to Joseph Gordon (blacksmith) and Matilda Ann, 4 Churches Gardens. St George in the east.
  • 1863 Mary Ann Gordon born to Joseph Gordon (blacksmith) and Matilda Ann, 4 Churches Gardens. St George in the east.
  • 1851, 22 June, Sarah Gordon (1 year 2 months) from Great Hermitage Street, buried Saint George's
  • 1854, 14 May, John Gordan (65) from Wellington Buildings, buried Saint George's
  • 1854, 1 June, Jeremiah Lordan (52) from Ratcliff Highway, buried Saint George's
  • 1854, 25 July, James Corden (30) from Chapel Street, buried Saint George's
  • St George's church yard seems to have been closed in October 1854

One Mary Gordon, of the same age as his daughter (18), married Percival Laidler in Chester-Le-Street, Durham in 1867

  • Baptism of Caroline Wender (parents James and Susannah) on the 30th January 1859, born 1 Jan 1859 - address 11 Plough Alley.