London Categories

+11 votes

We have redesigned the London categories to make more sense under the global level 1 heading of Greater London. If you want to use these categories please do take a look at the new design. It is still an ongoing project and there is more to add, but levels 1 & 2 are now pretty well set.

Places in London.

Please use [[Category:XXX, London]] as the category and, if necessary, link it to the appropriate London Borough.

CoE Parishes in London

Please use e.g. [[Category:St Andrew, Enfield]] as the parish. For consistency you should not use e.g. St Andrew’s with the ‘s. This is not the official title. Then, if necessary, link it to e.g. [[Category:Middlesex Parishes]], [[Category:London Borough of Enfield]] and [[Category: London Church of England Parishes]].

It would be much appreciated it we could now avoid creating personal variations, which is what caused the problem in the first place. If you have questions, you will find contact details for me or Leigh Murrin on the Greater London page.

in Policy and Style by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (287k points)
retagged by Maryann Hurt

4 Answers

+6 votes
In Genealogical terms Greater London/ London is an "enigma". Other than the City of London, a small enclave around St. Pauls Cathedral, of Roman era, all other areas are parishes within counties of England including the now defunct county of Middlesex. Records not only of CoE, but many non conformist.

Many profiles are held in a Middlesex category. Seemingly a new Category is suggested... "Middlesex Parishes". Why & for what benefit?

I recognise that many published recent records (BMD's) are within the Greater London imprint that you cite in the Category page, but I contend that they be should be reversed into there genealogical base.
by Living Woodhouse G2G6 Pilot (294k points)
Thanks Ron.  The reason that the London categories were in such a mess is that there has been no consensus on how these should be organised.  There are hundreds of different opinions on how the London categories should be organised.   

Greater London as a region has had a legal existence since 1965.  It is used here on Wikitree for a long time now as the topline category for the purpose of grouping all London categories together.

The volunteers working on the new hierarchy had to take account of all the different opinions on how London categories should be used and impose some kind of order on the chaos.  It is inevitable that not everyone is going to agree, but the approach outlined by Martin is one that tries to accommodate and respect the issues that most people care about, ie. that (i) some prefer to link profiles to parishes, (ii) some prefer to link profiles to the old counties and (iii) most people have no clue or opinion on whether they should link to either counties or parishes and just want to link profiles to "London".

We asked for volunteers to help figure out a new structure and this is the one the group came up with, after a lot of debate.

I would also say that categories are not just about genealogical records, they also serve a purpose of connecting people to places and locations.  This new system recognises this as well.  

There is a lot of clean-up to be done across all these categories - "Middlesex Parishes" is a way to group parishes in a region together (for organisation purposes).  

If you have any suggestions on further refinements, particularly around the framework for parishes and other religious categories relating to London, please drop us a note and we can add you to the working group.
I think one key point to make here is what Leigh says about genealogical records.

We are dealing here with categories not sources. Some people will want to link profiles to places they lived or were baptised or married. Others will want to read about the history of the places and/or parishes and find repositories for records. There is still a long way to go in providing the latter. It has been suggested that we need to find a way of incorporating Poor Law Unions.

On the question of Middlesex or Surrey parishes, I do think there is a strong case for offering the option of categorising a profile as St Andrew, Enfield in Middlesex Parishes if you have a baptism record or simply in Enfield, Middlesex if you only have a place name. If we don't offer that someone will create it. It was the random creation of categories that caused the initial mess. The more we can avoid that, the better.

We are also dealing with people new to genealogy, who have no knowledge of London beyond the name. One aim is to help them understand the different ways of looking at it.

Ron, you know that I was a strong supporter of keeping the old Ridings of Yorkshire. But there was still a case for having a South Yorkshire category. London is infinitely more complicated. But, as Leigh says, do feel free to make further suggestions.
You ask what's the point of Middlesex Parishes? Let me try to explain (although I haven't been involved in categorizing London - unfortunately).

Middlesex as a category has nothing to do with parishes. If you just treat it like a bag and put in all your Middlesex parishes you'd also have to put in Middlesex cricketers, Middlesex towns, notable Middlesex thunderstorms. You, as a human, can easily see the various parishes belong to a subset of Middlesex-related things but that information can be captured explicitly if we create a sub-category of Middlesex called Middlesex parishes and put them under there, and Middlesex People for our cricketers, and Middlesex Events for our thunderstorms. Basically you shouldn't be mixing categories and instances of a category at any point and instances should only occur at the bottom of a hierarchy.

If someone now searches for Middlesex Parishes they'll get precisely the relevant data. If there was some front-end to search the data someone could enter a specific parish name and select that data. If they want to search for all things Middlesex, that's fine, they'll still get the parishes (along with everything else). Categorisation is just way of grouping like data. Of course it's somewhat arbitrary how finely you want to slice the data but that's not really a problem with genealogy. We should design our categories as granular as the data itself.
+4 votes
Just to add to Martin's comments, this new system also accommodates people who would prefer to link profiles to the old counties (if time appropriate for the profile).  

For example, we have categories for "Clapham, Surrey" (which link to Surrey and can be used for profiles linked to Clapham before it merged into London) as well as "Clapham, London".   The category of "Clapham, Surrey" links into "Clapham, London" so that all the profiles relating to the place "Clapham" will be grouped in the same place.  

The London categories are not easy, there are so many different ways that this could be approached, but hopefully this system will work for everyone and accommodate the ways that most people like to use categories.
by Living Hoolihan G2G6 Mach 6 (62.9k points)
Hmm ... oh dear.

Having Clapham, Surrey as a sub-category of Clapham, London is like someone scraping their nails across a blackboard to me. Not just wrong but so misguided it's causing me distress to even think about it.

Clapham should be the category, have it belong to two larger categories Surrey and London. Problem solved. Making two separate categories Clapham,Surrey and Clapham,London is just about defensible (although making a rod for our own backs IMO) but putting one inside the other is just evil! Isn't it obvious they should be at the same level in a hierarchy? Surrey isn't a subset of London so why would Clapham,Surrey be a subset of Clapham,London?

And your justification for linking Clapham,Surrey into Clapham,London so that "so that all the profiles relating to the place "Clapham" will be grouped in the same place" is just ridiculously backwards. Just use the category Clapham and they'll all be in the same place - Clapham!

I fear you are missing the point. Clapham, London and Clapham, Surrey already exist. If we had to go through all similar places and eliminate one or the other it would be a nightmare.

The point is that neither is a sub-category. Both should link to Surrey and London Borough of Lambeth.

Anyway, thanks for pointing out that, at the moment, they don't. I did say there was a lot of work still to be done :-)

No... they shouldn't .... not at all.

If you've created Clapham, Surrey and Clapham, London (which I don't agree with, but if ...) then Clapham, Surrey should be a sub-category of Surrey and Clapham, London should be a sub-category of London.
For the record, we didn't create categories with London, Middlesex suffixes etc. We have been battling with the categories already created by Wikitreers. In fact we have created very few categories. But those that did exist were in a terrible mess. The project has been trying to put some sort of order to them.

You are welcome to come up with some suggestions, but do bear in mind that they have to be do-able.
Well in that case you are partially forgiven but "the first step to a successful revolution is destroying all competing revolutionaries" which in this case means deleting their half-assed categories.

I agree completely with your point about being able to specify a parish or a place-name. Who would argue otherwise?
Since my answer a few days ago, I have been following the discussion. Frankly I have to totally agree with Martin Fletcher, the basis of categorising is totally flawed.
You are correct Greater London has been around since 1965, but only as Council, known as the "GLC" that was created as a administrative body by the abolition of Middlesex and incorporating parts of Surrey & Kent. It was defunct by 1985 which lead to the format of the modern London Boroughs.
I thought Wikitree was a "Family History" site, (yes, History) but alas, I must be wrong. Profiles from 1500 to 1965 we are encouraged to categorise in post 1985 London Boroughs. What nonsense. These London Boroughs do not belong in the UK Project, and the use of the UK template will be untruthful. I will not use them
Coming into this, I originally agreed with you, Ron. But I came round to the view that there was currently no real alternative if we were to have a set of London categories that sorted out the mess that existed previously.

Of course, you don't have to use them. I have several ancestors in Middlesex categories, but I have linked them to the London Boroughs, because that is how many people now will be making sense of them. But I could have just left them in Middlesex. The categories are there for those who wish to use them.

However, this is a wiki. It doesn't have to be set in stone. As Leigh and I have already said, feel free to make some alternative, positive suggestions, bearing in mind the limits on what can be altered.

What I, personally, find sad is that we have only seen negatives.
Martin, prior to 1965, London was a myth. Other than the City of London it was just towns within Counties, principally Middlesex, Surrey & Kent.
In these Counties lie the historical records, and where they should be principally categorised.
Post 1985 we have the London Boroughs. Accepted & acknowledged. In relation to family history they are important, but should only be recognised as modern and linked back to the overall historical picture. They become a subcategory.
Take Enfield as an example:
Enfield St. Andrew, Middlesex--subcategory of Middlesex.
London Borough of Enfield--subcategory of Middlesex.  
Clapham as a further example:
Clapham, Surrey--subcategory of Surrey.
Clapham, London-- subcategory of Surrey
The City of London though is a different entity. It was a County of its own and should be listed as such in the England project!
My conclusion is that London (not Greater London) is recognised, through its modern Boroughs, as sub categories to there former counties. Members should be encouraged to categorise in the appropriate former counties.

"Members should be encouraged to categorise in the appropriate former counties."

This is what we saying - we are not asking anyone to place profiles into the "London" version of a location category if that would not be appropriate for the time period.   


An obvious case is Potters Bar. Presumably this should appear pre-1965 in Middlesex. but post-1965 in Hertfordshire. That is historically correct. But surely the two should be linked in some way.
I'm not sure about this question of historical records. Most of the relevant ones are in the LMA, which is, I believe, run by the City of London/
No, because that is not correct.

Potters Bar was a hamlet in both Hadley & South Mimms parishes, so it would be:

Potters Bar, Middlesex, a sub category of both Hadley, Middlesex & South Mimms,Middlesex; these last two Hadley & South Mimms being sub categories of Middlesex.

The modern Potters Bar, Hertfordshire is also a sub category of Middlesex as it never was historically Hertfordshire.The preamble to this Potters Bar subcategory should carry an explanation as to why it is Middlesex, and not Hertfordshire.
+4 votes
I've looked at this now and ... it's terrible. I'm reminded of the joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

Right from the off, the top-level category is wrong. It should be London not "Greater London" - a purely modern geographical distinction.

Now you can have different ways to slice up this conceptual entity ... Counties of London or Boroughs of London ... the boroughs themselves shouldn't be at this top level. Things which form a set should always be grouped in a category. Again Royal Boroughs should be in a category, not just itemized at the top level. People would be a good category at this level. Not convicts, or MPs.

The general rule is all entities at the same level in a hierarchy should be roughly equivalent in importance and scope. That's been completely ignored. Churches would be a good category here. Baptists churches is a bad one, because you then have to add in every other denomination. The higher the level the sparser the categories should be.

It's a pity I didn't see the original request for help on this project. How much of this is set in stone? I can provide expertise on this sort of data modeling.

How anyone can think "Greater London" is the right top-level category is just beyond me. It's just for road atlases. The history of London is encapsulated in that one word: London. Look at all the hundreds of books written about London ... I've recently read through Hawk Norton's exhaustive list and I can't recall a single one that used "Greater London" (doubtless they exist). And the "justification" for Greater London is that it's been used since 1965. Well London (Londinium, Lundenwic, Lundenburh) has been used since AD 50.
by Matthew Fletcher G2G6 Pilot (138k points)
Hi Matthew, the fact that you think the categorisation proposals are "terrible" proves my point that it is difficult it is to find a standard that works for everyone.  

There is always going to be disagreement here - this is why the London categories have always been a mess.

As stated several times above, Greater London is (and was) a pre-existing top line category for London for some time now.   It is not terrible to use it as the parent category - it reflects the fact that, today, Greater London is the geographic conurbation term for the London area.   The London Boroughs exist today - it is not incorrect to link places to these boroughs.    

The team have tried to come up with a hierarchy that would accommodate the modern boundaries - which is relevant for many modern profiles and categories today - while also allow for the fact that some locations were not always considered to be part of London and previously were in counties.  We have to try to find a system that links "Clapham, London" and "Clapham, Surrey" together.   The reality is that people will continue to use both categories and it does not facilitate anything to have "Clapham" linked profiles stored in two separate places.  We need to try to find a way to link them together.

If you have some suggestions on how to organise this differently, you are welcome to join the group.  Send us a message with your email address and we can add you.  

Just to add, it is great to find people who care about these things!
I fear collaboration is impossible between those who want the wheel round and those who want it square.

Can you just answer this question: Why would having the single category Clapham and putting it in both of the categories County_of_Surrey and County_of_London not work? Can you explain to me why the categories of Clapham,Surrey and Clapham,London are needed?
If you look at geographic categories on Wikitree, it is standard practice to use two descriptors, [town], [county/state etc relevant for the place].  This is because place names are frequently used multiple times over in different countries and we need to distinguish between them.

So we have categories (for example) "Sheffield, Massachusetts", "Sheffield, Alabama", "Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire" and "Sheffield, Tasmania".  There are probably more.  

This practice is seen across the board.  Using the additional descriptors of "Surrey" and "London" distinguishes the location from those places in other parts of the world that have the same name.  If we just use "Clapham" we are not following the practice used for place names in Wikitree and could cause confusion for people putting profiles in the wrong place.

When it comes to London, there are different views about whether Clapham (for example) is located in Surrey or London.  Both are correct depending on the time period.   Some people feel very passionately about this so, in the end, we decided the pragmatic solution was to keep both.   "Clapham, Surrey" would be linked to both "Surrey" and to "Clapham, London" enabling all the links relating to "Clapham" to be congregated in one place.
Thank you for replying but I'm afraid you'll have to do without me. You're going about this completely the wrong way round.
May I just point out that it is impossible to delete categories, which have profiles linked to them. It's not just a question of starting again. It's a question of doing what we can with what we have.

In the case of the most extreme aberrations I've been contacting the managers.
It is not impossible any more.  With the help of Editbot, we can now rename categories and move profiles as a group instead of have to change the category names on each individually.
True, but to sort out and rationalise London as was being suggested is literally the work of years. Anyone going to volunteer - and commit to finishing it?
+4 votes
Thanks for all the feedback.

Based on these comments, the team will go back and see if there are better ways to organise the categories provided this is in accordance with Wikitree guidelines in this area.

However - please note, the current framework does not prevent anyone from linking London profiles to a county, rather than a London Borough.  This discussion seems to be about the hierarchy of how those categories should then be organised on Wikitree.    The only reason for linking locations to their modern day locations inside London Boroughs was to impose some kind of organisation structure that accommodates the fact that the same London locations often have two separate categories.    

If you want to link profiles to, for example, "Clapham, Surrey" (instead of "Clapham, London" you can do that now.   Nobody is stopping you.

Thanks again for the input.  We will revert.

by Living Hoolihan G2G6 Mach 6 (62.9k points)
Leigh, I do hope you mean "We will review" :-)

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