Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Middlesex Genealogy
Westminster Abbey, or, the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster is situated on the western side of Westminster Hall. The origin and dedication of this ancient Abbey is involved in much obscurity and fabulous legend. The most credible account is, that it was founded by Sebert, King of the East Saxons, who died in 616. This church and its monastery were afterwards repaired and enlarged by Offa, King of Mercia, but being destroyed by the Danes, they were rebuilt by King Edgar, who endowed them with lands and manors, and in 969 granted them with many privileges. Being again ravaged by the Danes, they were rebuilt by Edward the Confessor, in a magnificent manner, and in the form of a cross. The works being finished in 1065, they were consecrated with the greatest pomp and solemnity, and all their ancient rights and privileges, with many additional, were confirmed to them by charter. William the Norman ["Conqueror"], further embellish and the church, and made it many handsome presents; and at the Christmas following his assumption of the Crown of England, he was solemnly [sic] crowned therein, this being the first coronation performed within its walls. The next prince who improved this national building was Henry III, who added to, and much repaired it. These repairs were completed by his succcessor in 1285, which is the date of the building as it now stands. About 1502, King Henry VII began the splendid chapel that is called by his name. This chapel, like that of Henry III, which he pulled down to make room for it, he dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and designed it for a burial place for himself and his posterity. At the time of the suppression of the religious houses, the Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII, who dissolved it, and erected it into a college of secular canons, under the government of a dean. [Queen] Mary restored it to its original conventical state, and Queen Elizabeth finally ejected the monks, and in 1560 erected the Abbey into a college as at present. The western towers were built by Sir Christopher Wren, and many subsequent repairs and embellishments have been executed by our various monarchs. The Abbey is particularly to be admired for the venerable beauty of its architecture, for the many ancient and modern monuments to the moemory of our greatest characters, and for many other curiosities, too numerous to be deatiled in a limited work like the present. ¹
1. Adapted from "A Topographical Dictionary of London" by James Elmes; published 1831
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Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.
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Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Middlesex Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.
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