Can you help?

This is a page where visitors to the site can post information about long-lost relatives or for help with information for compiling their family trees. If you can help, please click the link at the end of the story, to email the enquirer direct.

David Sumray, chemist

I am currently researching into my family history, as I am trying to put together a memoir for my grandsons (I am now nearly 83, and should like them to know about their family). I have today come across your website, which I found very interesting – thank you.

My late father-in-law, David Sumray owned a chemist shop at 87 Wentworth Street called ‘Davis Cash Chemist’, which was also known as the ‘Russian Chemist’, which my late husband, Godfrey, took over on this father’s retirement (my husband was a pharmacist), and the shop was in the family probably from the 1920s to about mid-1950s, when Godfrey sold the business to his assistant, Saul Nemtsov.

My maternal grandmother, Eva Shannis, had a provisions shop in Burslem Street possibly from before the First World War until about 1934. I think that when she first had the shop there, Burslem Street was actually called James Street.

My husband’s aunt, Rachel Sumray was in partnership with Hyman Ostwind and Gabriel Rosenfeld, and they had a bakers and confectioners business (Ostwind and Co) at 75/77/79 Wentworth Street. The partnership was dissolved in December 1917 and the business carried on with just Rachel Sumray and Hyman Ostwind. I don’t know when they founded it or when it actually ceased trading altogether.

I think it’s unlikely that anyone will remember any of these shops, but perhaps you could point me in the right direction for looking for photographs or property records, etc.?

Judy Sumray
Jennifer Switchblade
Dear Sir or Madam,
This message may seem a bit weird to you but I can assure you I am sincere. The story is as follows ….at times before I go to sleep I see visions of FACES…& have been experiencing this for years. Never before last night have I tried to contact them by thought…This vision was of a Young Lady…i asked who she was …she replied..JENNIFER SWITCHBLADE…I asked where was she from..she replied…EAST END of LONDON..but she also added that she was MURDERED in 1936 at the age of 18. She also said she wants to contact her mother a SARAH SWITCHBLADE. who is in CANTERBURY. I personally had never heard of these names previously…on the internet I found this information about the EAST END of LONDON & your email address. I was born in WOLVERHAMPTON STAFFS UK in 1926 so maybe there is some connection there…now living in SOUTH AUSTRALIA for 46 years. Please be kind enough to try and find me some information on this matter. Thanks for your patience..

Sincerely yours

Joe Rowley
Joe & Ruth Rowley
South Australia
Henry James Brown

My wife and I are trying to trace my ancestors and wondered whether you might be able to help in any way. My father “Harry” (Henry James Brown) was born on 3rd.March 1915 when the family lived at 86 Roman Road, Bethnal Green. Dad may also have had a sister – but we have no further details. Harry’s father was also Henry Brown (a miller) and was married to Florence Cavill. Any further information would be very much appreciated. Regards… Ken.Hill
Looking for Yearley family

Hi, I could not find a link to send a direct email for family history so hope that this will get there. I am desperately trying to seek the Yearley’s 1822 to present day. If anyone knows any Yearley’s with roots in Bethnal Green, St Lukes, Holborn and Whitechapel I’d love to hear from you. My Gt Gt Gt grandfather was Thomas Yearley born 1822 in St Lukes possibly married to Helena Jordan born 1820 St Lukes. They were mainly Blacksmiths by trade and this seems to run through the family. If you have any information I would be only too pleased to hear from you : email

Regards, Pauline Jones.

Trumans Dray and horses model

I am trying to track down a wooden model of a Trumans (Brewery) dray and 4 horses which my father Daniel Luton made in the mid 1950s. We lived in Canning Town and then Ilford until 1958 when he left Trumans to work at McMullens Brewery in Hertford, to where the family moved. My dad had worked for Trumans in Brick Lane for about 25 years until 1958 and spent every evening for months carving the model from scratch which was (as I remember it) very finely detailed, right down to the individual chain links on the horses harnesses. He made a glass case for it and the whole thing was given to Trumans in the mid 1950s. I’ve always assumed that it was on display at the brewery HQ.

I’ve contacted the Bass (now Coors) Museum in Burton on Trent who don’t have any Trumans memorabilia, but advised me that Trumans was acquired by Grand Met Hotels in 1971 and merged with Watney Mann in 1974. Brewing ceased in 1989 and I’ve drawn a blank on their web sites.

Any help or suggestions you can give me would be gratefully received. Contact
Reuben Street

I am not sure if you can help but I am finding out the family tree of a friend’s mother. Her grandfather was born in 1875 at 11 Reuben Street, Bethnal Green
– the family name was Eagland. I have tried looking at old and new maps but I can find no sign of Reuben Street. The father was a Tobacco Spinner whatever that is. Contact David Ball.
Florence Gunner nee Jones

I’m looking into my family history and have discovered that part of the family (Mrs Florance Gunner nee Jones) used to own or run a teashop near Bryant and mays match factory in bow. I know the shop was famous for its beef dripping and was bombed in the war. Could you help with any more information and if not where I could get any further information on the shop. Can you help?
Frederick Walter Braithwaite, born 1875

I am tracing my grandfather, Frederick Walter Braithwaite, born 1875, who worked as an engineer for Tate and Lyle in the West Indies. His father also worked in the West Indies on sugar plantations. I have phoned Tate and Lyle with no joy, and have scoured the internet. I am trying to find my great grandparents and which island they worked on, also aunts and uncles who were born there. Can you help?
Robert Thorman, Bromley High Street, London, 1826-1848

I am writing to let you know about our quest for information about great-great grandfather Robert Thorman who ran a plumbing business in Bromley High Street from about 1826 to 1848 when he died. After his death the business was carried on by his widow Sarah, who before her marriage to Robert was a Pelham from Uckfield, East Sussex. On Sarah’s death the business passed to her son Robert Charles who unfortunately did not live long, suffering as he did from tuberculosis.

Trying to trace the line back before 1826 we have, through the tenacity of my cousin Giles Thorman, had the good fortune to find the death certificate of the old Robert Thorman. It says he was 61 when he died in 1848 dating his birth to 1787. And that, at the moment, is as far back as we are able to go. I have looked at the 1841 Census returns for Bromley/St Leonard but havent managed to find the family so we don’t know whether he was born within the census location or outside it.

The International Genealogical Index shows up a Robert Thorman baptised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1787 but we have no way of knowing whether this is the man we are looking for. Ninteenth century trade directories for Middlesex list Robert Thorman’s business in Bromley High Street as Plumber, Painter, Glazier and Gasfitter. His widow Sarah carried on the same range of trades with the help of two of her sons. If by any chance the Robert Thorman from Newcastle is our man then we would be able to trace the line back many generations to the yeoman farmer Thormans from Easingwold in Yorkshire. Can you help?

29 Responses to Can you help?

  1. I keep trying to reach you without success.
    I sent in a piece a few weeks ago, no sign of it.
    My email address has changed, but your site wont let me give you the new one. Please provide a way to change my email address which is now
    How often do you insert new messages, or is mine just being ignored. I was born in the East End, now live in the U.S. and have written a manuscript called: Cockney Girl. Seeking agent/publisher asap. Have published 40 articles and stories many re East End. Addressed many groups including some in the U.K. Please respond asap. Why is my contribution not visible? Also seeking friends. Gilda Moss Haber, PhD

  2. Hi Please can you help me
    i am trying to find a photo taken of party taken in Wrexham road Bow London e3, of my Dad. playing the piano
    and the family in the street
    i remember this like yesterday
    but sadley cant find no pictures
    please can some one help email
    Thanks june

  3. June Boorman v. e day in Wrexham rd bow lomdon e3

  4. John Rennie says:

    It’s not being ignored, it’s up on the site! This is simply a forum for people to post and ask other people for information, though. Not sure what else I can do really? I’d suggest, if you’re seeking an agent you do a Google search for literary agents.
    John Rennie

  5. SARAH CARROLL says:







  6. Andrew Dubrov says:


    I am interested in more information on Bessarabian Society (or the Bessarabian tigers), a street gang mentioned in a book review on this site . I am particularly interested in Max Moses, who was apparently one of the ringleaders of this gang and also a boxer at Wonderland. He was found guilty of Manslaughter after a brawl at the Yorkminster Music Hall on 4, Oct, 1902 and sentenced to 10 years in prison (a transcript of the trail is available on the old bailey archive’s website). I have reason to believe that this gent was let out after serving eight years of his sentence and went to New York City where he became a baker…and, incidentally, my great-greatfather. Could you point me in a direction to find out more on either Max or the Bessarabian society ?

  7. Alan J Nunn says:

    Hello to anyone out there who would be aware of any photographs available taken of OTIS St, now a Supermarket Car Park close to the Three Mills Bridges.
    My mother Ethel Nunn born 1896 at Otis St was then Ethel Emily Hall, but her mother was Emily Ann Welch who married Samuel Delves Gaucheron Hall.
    It was the Welch family who lived in Otis St.
    I would love to see photo’s of the houses that stood there in the early 1900’s.
    I know that my Gt Grandfather Welch had a horse, and carried out work as a Carman.
    Perhaps he kept the horse on the bank of the River Lea at the end of the road?
    My mother moved to Tottenham about 1903, and that was where I was born 500 yards from the Spurs.
    My mothers family tree on the Hall side goes back to 1565 and Thomas Gaucheron was a Huguenot. By the 1700’s they had arrived in East London and were Silk Weavers.
    It is the Welch family that is now my challenge, and I remember helping to move a couple of my mothers Aunt’s in Tredegar Road during the Blitz.
    Any help appreciated with cost paid.
    Alan J Nunn……………Cornwall

  8. Mark says:


    I wonder if anyone can provide information on an ancestor of mine, James Charles (Jimmy) Lane.

    I believe he was born in St Leonard’s Road, Bow, and was a British middleweight champion wrestler and weightlifter in the 1900s. He was landlord of the Bombay Grab, a famous pub in Bow Road, from 1942-1956.

    Any information would be gratefully received! Many thanks.

  9. Kiviaho says:

    My ancestors lived and worked in the docklands area during the 19th century but my great gret grandfather also worked at the docks in Bermuda Island where 2 of his children were also born. Does anyone know anything about this place – Ireland Island – or have relatives who also worked there?

  10. Maxine Farley says:

    Hi Mark, I saw your message on here. My Great-Great Granfather James Shakespeare also owned the Bombay Grab not long after your ancestor. I’m trying to find photographs of the interior of the Bombay Grab. I have recently spoken to someone else who also had relatives who owned the Bombay Grab for a while. Maxine

  11. Maxine Farley says:

    Hi Mark, I saw your message on here. My Great-Great Grandfather James Shakespeare also owned the Bombay Grab not long after your ancestor. I’m trying to find photographs of the interior of the Bombay Grab. I have recently spoken to someone else who also had relatives who owned the Bombay Grab for a while. Maxine

  12. Julia Hines says:

    I am interested by your post as my maternal grandmother Dorothy Adeline Shakespeare was, I believe, his daughter and lived at the Bombay Grab with her husband Walter Hensby and their two children Dorothy (my mother) and William. Do you have a family tree?

  13. John Rennie says:

    Marvellous name! Can anybody help Julia re info about the family?

  14. ELIZABETH HART says:

    I have a trophy which says “Winner of the London Dance Band Championships 1939”. I do believe that two of the musicians had the surname of HART so am trying to find a bit more about this, has anyone got any suggestions please?
    I think that the Band, sadly do not know the name, used to play at the Imperial Poplar, are there any archives regarding this building please?
    The HARTS lived in Dixon Street, Limehouse and then moved to Hudsons Road,Canning Town. If anyone has any info about anything here I would appreciate it.


  15. Ben says:

    Hi i have some great story’s to tell of the east end,i was born in the east end,and lived in West Ham,for 25 year’s,we also went hop picking,in Kent,if you would like to hear my story’s please contact me at my e-mail address.Cheer’s Ben.

  16. Eddie says:

    Hi, I have just found your site and was wondering if anyone could help?
    I am still searching for any info on my Grandmother, a Rose Friedberg (nee Costa or Koster) who was on the stage in the 1920’s, stage name I believe was Marie Da Costa at the Hackney Empire
    Her husband was Barneth Friedberg ( my grandfather ) who was editor of the Jewish Graphic newspaper in 1926
    any help appreciated. Thanks!
    Regards E. Friedberg eddnsue

  17. Jay says:

    A building has caught my eye recently in bow between bow road and bromley high street called prioress house – to me it looks like it was some kind of school, but the name suggests somthing to do with churches. I am curious to what it may have been, if anyone has info on it or old pic i would be greatful if you share it with me. thanks

  18. Robert S. Green says:

    Looking For Family of Green. A Charles Green was a stagecoach driver in East London. C. 1880s? When he died , family had to move into the Staines Poor House. Our Green family moved to Canada. East End was bombed badly, and I would like to find my family, if they survived that and many other journeys? Thank You , Regards, Robert S. Green U.E.L.

  19. Dina Levy says:

    Message for Judy Sumray. Rachel Sumray was my maternal grandmother. She was married to Lewis, David Sumray’s brother. Her father, David Ostwind, was a master baker who came from Poland to London when Rachel was very young, in the mid 1890’s. Ostwind’s bakery was run by her brother Hymie and his wife Essie for many years in the East End. My mother, Reggie and her sister Phyllis grew up in Richmond by the Thames, where their parents Lewis and Rachel owned an Ice Cream Parlor. Lewis was a great gambler so by the time my mother got married they were living above their chemist shop in Lower Marsh, Bermondsey. My grandmother talked to me a lot about her life and family before she died in 1968. If you would like to contact me my email is

    I remember that one of my grandfather’s nephews emigrated, maybe to Rhodesia in the 1950’s. Was it your family or another nephew? Regards Dina Levy

  20. Mrs B Oldfield says:

    I’m surprised your list omits The most famous East London Theatre, The Stratford Theatre Royal!

  21. Denise says:

    My gt gt gt Grandfather was the Landlord of the Whittington Inn, 14 Commercial Road – In 1861.

    Has anyone heard of this pub before, please. Been searching for it on the internet and nothing is coming up. I have the census record. Thank you

  22. Chris says:

    I am trying to find any information on the “Bank of Friendship” pub that used to stand at 22 Harford Street. My great Grandmother was the landlady until it got bombed and destroyed around 1940. The licensee was “Dodger” Harris as my grandmother was not able to hold a liquor licence as she served a 3 day prison sentence due to the failure of payment of her local authority council rates. I would be particularly interested in and pictures/postcards or photos that show the pub.

  23. Wendy Justice says:

    My second cousin, Chrissie Ord, was a boxer from East London in 1950. I’m looking for photos, print news or videos of a fight (appeared on television). Can anyone help me locate this information? I currently live in America (grew up in London) and I’ve been having trouble finding anything online. Thanks!

  24. john chatterway says:

    Hi, Jay, the building in your article, regarding prioress/house, i was born therein the 1930s and was built in the grounds of the old priory,a big rectory house occupied by a father pippin, we used to sit on the big steps leading up to the priory when he would emerge and chase us off, one night in November during the war my brother and i stole a meat pie that his cook had put on the window ledge to cool, the priory was surrounded
    by a high wall and holding the pie after climbing back fell off and cut my head, just a little bit of my early days in Bow, hope this info helps,
    regards john

  25. john chatterway says:

    Hi, Maxine, regarding the BOMBAY-GRAB bow road your family must have taken over the Bombay after my father-inlaw who took it of his father inlaw jimmy lane who occupied the pub 1938.

  26. Jan Wilson says:

    I’m doing research on behalf of a friend whose family came from the Poplar and Millwall areas. I have a letter written to his g.g.grandmother Louisa Hiscott (nee Biggs) in 1896 concerning a patent she wanted to take out on a medicine she’d ‘invented’. The letter was very discouraging and she didn’t proceed. The story in the family goes that this was eventually ‘procured’ by Boots the Chemist. In the 1911 Census Louisa is living as a widow with 3 of her children at 133 West Ferry Road, Millwall and her daughter Louisa is a Junior Clerk for Patent Medicine Vendors. Does anyone have any further information about these types of Vendors in the Millwall area? Was there even a branch of Boots in the nearby area at the time? Thank you so much for any information anyone can give. Jan Wilson

  27. mayer says:

    To David Sumray

    I have a photo of Davis Cash Chemist and and it’s owner and former assistant Saul Nemtzov. If you would like a copy please email at

  28. John Rennie says:

    Okay, another one for the readers. Anyone remember a Boots the Chemist in Millwall (or even a Timothy Whites)?

  29. John Rennie says:

    Can anyone help Wendy with info on Chrissie Ord?

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