West Ham

"West Ham" is a location which frequently causes confusion to those starting to look at history in the area as it is the name of a village which became a Metropolitan Borough in 1886, a Poor Law union, and a Registration District.
In 1889 the borough was large enough in terms of population to become a County Borough and a local board of health was formed in 1856
In 1840 the parish was included in the Metropolitan Police District
The parish of West Ham was divided into three wards, Church Street, containing the village of West Ham, Upton, Forest Gate, andCanning Town; Stratford and Maryland Point; Plaistow containing the village of Plaistow, Hallsville, and Silvertown.

The most enduring use of label "West Ham" is from the registration district, which existed up to 1967. The name comes from the West Ham Poor Law Union (see below). Thus births, marriages, and deaths registered in Leyton and Walthamstow from 1837 to 1965 show as being registered in "West Ham", being the registration district, not the parish.

Cemeteries & Grave yards.

The proximity of several cemeteries to Leyton, Leytonstone, and Cann Hall makes them possible places of burial for residents of that area, as does the location of the union workhouse in the parish.
West Ham Board of Health and Burial Board est 1856 had juristiction.
  • West Ham Cemetery at Forest Gate opened 1857 by the burial board. 13 acres. 2/3 conc 1858. 2 chapels. later 22 acres
  • West Ham Jewish cemetery opened 1858
  • Woodgrange Park Cemetery at East Ham, was created in 1889 by the Tottenham Park Cemetery Company
  • Manor Park Cemetery opened in 1875 at Forest Gate


West Ham was a member of the Becontree hundred of Essex


Poor Houses & Poor law

The Poor Law Union, formed in May 1836 under the poor Law Ammendment act 1834, comprised the parishes of East Ham, West Ham, Little Ilford, Leyton, Walthamstow, Wanstead, and Woodford. In a rapidly changing area there were tensions over where where most money came from and where it was most spent. By 1872 the strains on the Union were such that it was having difficulty in accomodating the poor in its workhouse, despite having enlarged it several times. It appeared that West Ham had most of the needs but that the other parishes in the Union were paying for them. An attempt was made to split West Ham and East Ham off from the rest of the union but this did not succeed.

The West Ham Union Workhouse was built at Leytonstone in 1840. In the 1860s it had room for about 700 paupers, and it had a chapel.
Further details can be found on www.workhouses.org.uk