A recent post covered recent family history research on the Moors of Essex, the distant relatives of my wife. So far I’ve enjoyed delving into this side of the family, especially with the possible connection to Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, and in finding out more of the urban and industrial history of East London.
This research has pickled my fancy (if that is a phrase) in many ways and it occurred to me just how history connects: between people, events, and places. Niall Ferguson once stated that history is ‘chaos’, and how it is the historian themselves that brings order to the events of the past. However, patterns are observable, and links – however random – establish themselves.
Let’s take the marriage of Elijah Moor and Elizabeth Harriet Cook on 15th April 1841 at All Hallows Church in the City of London. On reading up on the church itself I was interested to find how it has played a role in various events of importance throughout history. For example, the church was used as a temporary resting place for those executed at the Tower of London; these include Thomas More for refusing to sign Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy, as well as Archbishop William Laud during the English Civil War. It was the same church in which Samuel Pepys took refuge to spectate the Great Fire of London in 1666, and also links to the American presidency: in 1797 the future president John Quincy Adams married here.
The unearthing of these connections not only provides greater context for the family – the Moors – but also in many of these important characters from England’s history. Thomas More is someone who figures prominently in the A-level module ‘The Tudors’, and this new connection with him undoubtedly helps with appreciation of the significance of his execution. Of course, we could agree with Ferguson’s assessment that all of these events are chaotic and it is only me – in this post – that is attempting to create order by connecting the likes of Elijah Moor with the sixth president of the United States of America. However, the church itself – All Hallows – is the standing link here. The church’s significance in local and national life over the course of centuries suggests that there is more than ‘chaos’ when looking back at the spread of history.