I’ve began my January challenge by focusing on Edward John Ferry (1834 – 1912).
Edward John Ferry was born in Bethnal Green on 29th May 1834 (father: Edward William Ferry, mother: Frances Sarah Ferry nee Aburn). Edward John was one of the brothers of my great great grandfather, Ambrose Ferry (1837-1889). He married Sarah Bishop on 19th October 1857.
It seems that the family lived in Mape Street, Bethnal Green from at least 1861 until 1911. At first they lived at No 24 with John and Susan Bishop, Sarah’s parents, but had moved to No.55 by 1871.
Mape Street was located in one of the poorest areas of Bethnal Green. In “Sanitary Ramblings” (1848) Hector Gavin described part of the area:
“Between Mape-street and Hague-street there is a large and deep hollow, in the shape of an irregular triangle, with the sides measuring respectively about 130, 130, and 100 feet. In wet weather this is a sort of pond; into it are thrown at all times the contents of the fish baskets, the heads and intestines of fish, and every kind of animal and vegetable refuse. In the hot and dry weather in which I visited it, the surface had become exsiccated, and the nature of the filthy soil on which I trod was not readily perceived by the eye, but the sense of smell detected, in a concentrated form, the essence of putrefying odours, and the stomach heaved with nausea. At one end of this triangle, and on a level with its lowest surface, are rows of two houses, with open privies, and the soil oozing into a little ditch in the hollow”.
Forty years later, Charles Booth coloured Mape Street purple on his Poverty Map of London, suggesting the street was “mixed – some comfortable, others poor.” He comments that “the whole area looks better off than it used to be, probably on account of the good trade of the last two years”.
Edward John Ferry must have seen many changes during his long residence in Mape Street.