Many notable people lived in Newham, here is an ouline of twenty of them.
More details of some of these people can be found on this website.
BETHELL, John Henry. 1st Baron. Bethell of Romford. Played a large part in the affairs of the early municipal councils of both West Ham and East Ham and was responsible for much of the development of East Ham and its services. He was twice Mayor of West Ham, the first mayor of East Ham and the first MP for East Ham North. Bethell Avenue in Canning Town named from him.
BIDDER, George Parker. 19th century engineer. Known in his youth as the "calculating boy" through his capacity to do complicated problems in his head. Promoter and engineer of the North Woolwich Railway and of the line from Forest Gate through Barking to Southend and Tilbury. Chief Engineer in the construction of the Victoria Dock. Bidder Street, Canning Town, named from him.
BURGES FAMILY. Lords of the Manor of East Ham HaIl in the 18th and 19th century. Colonel Ynr Burges was Charter Mayor of East Ham. The family is remembered in Burges and Poulett Roads, East Ham, and in the Burges Manor Girls Secondary School [now part of Langdon School]
CORNWELL, John. Boy hero of the Battle of Jutland. Posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. A secondary school in Manor Park was named after him (demolished in 1969), but many of the roads and places on the Little Ilford Estate recall him.
CURWEN John. 19th century Congregational minister at Plaistow. Developed and perfected the musical system of tonic sol-fa and founded the Curwen Press. Curwen Avenue, Forest Gate, named after him.
DODD, William. 18th century divine, known as "the unfortunate Doctor Dodd". Lecturer and curate at West Ham parish church 1752 to c.1766. Executed for forgery (after considerable public interest on his behalf) in 1777.
EDWARDS, George. 18th century naturalist. Librarian of the Royal College of Physicians and Fellow of the Royal Society. Born at Stratford. Retired to Plaistow in his later years and died there; buried in West Ham churchyard.
FOTHERGILL, John. 18th century Quaker physician and botanist. in 1762 bought the present West Ham Park and developed it into botanic gardens second only to Kew.
FRY, Elizabeth. 19th century Quaker prison reformer. Lived for 20 years at Plashet in East Ham and for the last 16 years of her life at Upton Lane House (later "The Cedars") in the Portway, West Ham. Buried in the Friends' Burial Ground at Barking .A special school in Canning Town was named after her.
FRYE, Thomas. 18th century painter and engraver of West Ham. Patented a method of porcelain manufacture and founded the Bow Porcelain Works at Stratford c.1748.
GURNEY, Samuel. 19th century Quaker banker and philanthropist. Brother of Elizabeth Fry. Owned what is now West Ham park and it is due to the initial generosity of his heirs that the property became the modern public park. Worked for penal reform and the abolition of slavery. There is an obelisk to his memory in Stratford Broadway. Gurney Road, Stratford New Town is named after him; and Earlham, Norwich and Sprowston Roads, Forest Gate are named from the family seats in Norfolk.
HANCOCK, Walter. 19th century engineer of Stratford. Invented the first practical steam road coach. Several models ran from Stratford to London and from the City to north London in 1830s. With his brother, founded the India rubber trade in England, and some of their methods were used in Silver's India Rubber and Gutta Percha Co. at Silvertown.
HARDIE, James Keir. Entered Parliament as the first truly independent Labour member as M.P. for South West Ham, 1892-5. The Keir Hardie Estate in south West Ham is named from him.
HOPKINS, Gerard Manley. Jesuit poet, born in The Grove, Stratford, in 1844. The Hopkins Room at Stratford Library recalls him.
HOWARD, Luke. 19th century Quaker chemist and meteorologist. Was responsible for the classification of clouds still in use. Founded the chemical firm (which still bears his name) at Plaistow in 1797. Lived at Chesterton House, Plaistow, in the early 19th century. Howards Road, Plaistow, named from him.
LETHIEULLIER, Smart. 18th century antiquarian. Lord of the manor, of Aldersbrook, Little Ilford. Did some of the original work on the antiquities of Barking Abbey. Monument to him in the Lethieullier Chapel in St. Mary's, Little Ilford.
LISTER, Joseph. 1st baron. 19th century surgeon and founder of antiseptic surgery. Born of Quaker parents at Upton House, Upton Lane in 1827 (now demolished). Lister Gardens and Lister School at Plaistow named from him.
PELLY, Sir John Henry. 1st Baron of Upton. 19th century Lord of the manors of East Ham and West Ham Burnells, East West Ham and Plaiz. Governor of the Hudson Bay Company, Director of the Bank of England and Deputy Master of Trinity House. Promoted the exploration of the North West Passage and the north Canadian coast. Lived at Upton Cross and took a considerable part in local affairs. His estates were developed as the Upton Manor residential neighbourhood after his death. Remembered in Pelly Road, Plaistow. Buried in the vaults of St. Mary's Church, Plaistow".
STUKELEY, William. 18th century Doctor and antiquary, and a founder of the Society of Antiquaries. Friend of the Revd. Joseph Sims, then Vicar of East Ham. Buried in East Ham churchyard.
TURPIN, Dick. 18th century highwayman. Lived at Plaistow as a young man, married an East Ham girl and lived at East Ham. Commenced a life of crime which ended on the gallows at York in 1739.
(Extract and updated from Local Studies Notes No. 39 entitled Outline Notes on the History of Newham, originally published by Newham library service)