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Richard Henry McLean

The surname has been variously spelled as "McLean" and "Maclean". Earlier records refer to "Maclean" while later records for Richard and his family refer to "McLean".

From the age stated on his death certificate, Richard McLean would have been born in approximately 1792. From the record in the 1841 census, it is known that Richard was born in Scotland in approximately 1790 or 1791 (his stated age was 50 at the time of the census) but there is no information about the location within Scotland. From the record of his second marriage, it is known that his father was also named Richard Maclean.

The middle name "Henry" is found on the marriage certificate of his son John.

At some time, it is believed that he married a woman whose first name was Sarah but whose surname is unknown. There are a number of Richard McLeans who married women named Sarah in England in the expected years and it has not been possible to confirm marriage details. Information previously published here regarding the identity of his first wife is now known to be incorrect and is therefore withdrawn.

It is not known where Richard and Sarah married - possibly they were both from Scotland and married there before moving to London. Alternatively Richard may have met and married Sarah after he arrived in London. It is thought that Richard and his first wife, Sarah, were parents of a number of children, possibly six, including :

Some of the Rotherhithe School Minutes survive and two relevant references can be noted :

Year: 1830-31 Charles MacLean, age 8, son of Richard and Sarah MacLean, timber rafter ..
Note: They have five children.
Year: 1837 Richard MacLean, (no age), son of Richard MacLean, labourer ..
Note: They have five children under 14 years.

In the baptismal record for John, Richard's occupation is "waterman". On the marriage certificate of Elizabeth, Richard's occupation is stated as "lighterman". In the school minutres above, he is referred to as a "timber rafter"; while the various occupations listed are not exactly the same, they are not incompatible for a person employed on the wharves. Charles may have been 15 by the time the last entry was made in 1837 so there may have been six children. This would be consistent with John not yet being born in 1830 and Charles no longer counted as under 14 by 1837.

At some time in the 1830s, it appears that Sarah died. On 5 January 1839, Richard Maclean, a labourer and widower, of Ratcliff (which is not far from Rotherhithe), married Mary Leary, a widow, also of Ratcliff, in the parish church of Stepney. The marriage record shows that Mary was the daughter of John Sheffield, a shipwright.

In the 1841 census of Rotherhithe, Richard and his second wife, Mary, are residing in York Street (ref; HO 107 1067./.. Book 8 .. fol. 36 ..) Richard, aged 12; Elizabeth, age 11; and John, age 9 are also listed as present on the night of the census.

"Deal porter" : The web-site at states that "Deal porters were the characteristic workers in the Surrey Commercial Docks. Their task was moving lengths of timber from ship to large barge to warehouse, or warehouse to cart or lorry. This they did balancing the planks on their shoulders, which was protected by a leather patch. Softwood from the Scandinavian countries and grain mainly from Canada were the Surrey Commercial Docks' main trade."

The Port Cities web-site states "The Deal Porters were a specialist group of dockers who dealt solely with timber, and were based at Surrey Docks. There were also a number of small independent timber wharves established along the banks of the Grand Surrey Canal."

At the time of John's christening, Richard and Sarah McLean are stated to have been residing in Trinity Street. Both Trinity Street and Trinity Road can be seen on an old map of the docks area : see Map of Poplar including London Docks; Trinity Street and Trinity Road form different boundaries of the Trinity Church, not far from Trinity Wharf.

Records relating to his daughter's migration shows that he was still alive but was a widower in 1848. This is confirmed by the death certificate showing that he died on 2 September 1849 at Ploughbridge Gate, Commercial Docks, Rotherhithe. "Ploughbridge Gate" has not been identified with certainty, however a Map of Southwark Borough 1885 shows "Plough Road" which crosses the Grand Surrey Canal at a spot identified as "Plough Br" presumed to be "Plough Bridge"

The National Maritime Museum web-site contains a picture of the Commercial Docks in Rotherhithe in 1813. This picture and others may also be found on the U.K. Port Cities web-site.



Some of the above information was researched by professional genealogist, Mr Sydney Smith,
59 Friar Rd., Orpington, Kent BR5 2BW             e-mail:
Mr Smith is thanked for his thorough research.



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