Does anybody know about when Gracechurch Street in the city of London stopped being called "Gracious" Street?

+3 votes

My ancestor Walter Carson, in records of the Dutch Reformed Church of Accord NY, is shown to have been born "in the 'Genadige' Street, London" Genadige translates to gracious in English. Online sources indicate this was another name(rhyming slang?) for Gracechurch street in the City of London and use of it stopped after the Great Fire of 1666.  1666 is too early for my ancestor, so the question really is: did use continue into first quarter or half of the 18th century?

WikiTree profile: Walter Carson
asked in Genealogy Help by Xd Carson G2G Rookie (240 points)
Fascinating (and helpful) Q btw!
Ed, I keep hoping we will eventually find out where Walter Carson was born. Thank you for continuing to pursue this! C. Carson

2 Answers

+6 votes

Pepys regularly walked up and down Gracious Street. He obviously lived before the fire but the street still stood and he continued to mention it.

And Jacob Harrison , Tailor of Gracious Street's will was probated in 1748.

(interesting possible derivation, nothing to do with Grace but Grass

Gracechurch Street is one of these unambitious streets. It derived its name, says Stow, from the grass or herb market there kept in old time, and which gave its name to the parish church of St. Bennet. St. Bennet Gracechurch, described by Stow, was destroyed in the Great Fire

Walter Thornbury. "Cornhill, Gracechurch Street, and Fenchurch Street," in Old and New London: Volume 2, (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 170-183. British History Online, accessed January 1, 2018,

answered by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (188k points)
edited by Helen Ford
Helen, Thanks! Ed

Ekwall agrees that it means "Grass Church" but disagrees with Stow's etymology (no evidence for this herb market, and the name is very early). He suggests it stood in a grassy plot or possibly had a roof of grassy turf ... although there's no actual evidence for these either... Anyway he also notes that Gracious Street was common in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Ekwall, E. (1965). Street-names of the City of London. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

+4 votes
My 1888 London Street atlas doesn't mention a Gendige or Gracious anything  (checked just in case).

I've made a very brief search of newspapers. In an article on the history of street names The Bells New Weekly Messenger 8th January 1842 page 6 mentions "Gracechurch-street, sometimes called Gracious-street, was originally Grass-street..."

Some articles quote documents from the 1600s which mention Gracious Street but don't attempt to translate it. Not sure if that is lazy journalists, or they expect readers to know.

Nicknames can last a long time, and it is only a couple of hundred years!

answered by Tim Partridge G2G6 Mach 2 (23.5k points)
Tim, I suspect the translation of "Gracious" was originally done from the English to the Dutch here in North America. My ancestor was marrying into the Dutch community that existed North of NYC. Ed

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