Henry Lester
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Henry Edward Lester (1834 - 1927)

Henry Edward Lester
Born in No 3 Spread Eagle Street, Limehouse, Middlesex Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1858 (to 1863) in Poplarmap
Husband of — married 1864 [location unknown]
Husband of — married 1877 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died at age 92 in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England, United Kingdommap [uncertain]
Profile last modified | Created 27 Mar 2017
This page has been accessed 366 times.


Henry Lester owned a ship repair yard at Blackwall docks. He was a prominent philanthropist, primarily through the financial assistance he provided for the activities of his daughters, Muriel and Doris (Verona). He was a Justice of the Peace and also president of the Essex Baptist Union from 1887-88 and 1903-04.

He "Started work at the age of ten at the Thames Iron Works, he worked in Scott Russell's shipbuilding yard, when Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Eastern steamship was being built."(1)

Per 1872 bio: Educated at Stepney Meeting School. Partner in H E Lester and Co, shipbuilders, Victoria Docks. Overseer of West Ham, member of Committee of the Poplar Ragged School and Penny Bank, President of the Young Men's Improvement Association.(2)

He seems to have been a very sincere Christian, who never forgot his humble origins and was keen to give back to the community. One expression of this benevolence was his purchase of Kingsley Hall, which opened in 1915. Every Sunday he would have one of his children deliver a plate of the same Sunday meal to a nearby crossing sweeper before the family ate.(4)

"It was H E Lester’s company that built the barge which carried Cleopatra’s Needle to London when it was given as a gift to Queen Victoria!"(1) However, the Needle was transported in a special cylinder, designed by John Dixon, and constructed by Thames Ironworks (the company that later founded West Ham United). It's not clear what role Lester's company actually played.

"Henry Edward Lester junior held patents for new types of steering and lifeboat davits, and from 1880 to approximately 1900 was in partnership with a man called Perkins (who was probably an engine maker). "(3) He seems to have claimed at least two other patents: one for improvements to ship steering and another (with T J Ferrell) for a boat lowering apparatus.

Henry died March 14, 1927. Last address: 19 Woodfield Gardens, Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. Left over 61,000 pounds (several million in today's money).(4)


(1). "Muriel and Doris Lester & The Heritage of the Kingsley Hall Community Centres" at Muriellester.org

(2) The School Boards: Our Educational Parliaments. 1872. Compiled and Edited by By Robert Henry MAIR

(3) "Henry Lester and the Loughton shipping connection" by Chris Pond in Loughton and District Historical Society newsletter, #206

(4) The Match Girl and the Heiress by Seth Koven. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014, especially 58-61, 75-76, 261-62, 322.

"England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FWGB-YYC : 11 December 2014), Henry Edward Lester, 08 Dec 1834, Birth; citing p. 406, No 3 Spread Eagle Street, Limehouse, Middlesex, record group RG5, Public Record Office, London.


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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Henry by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Henry:

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