West Ham lies on the east bank of the River Lea and so before inexorable growth ... it was the last place in Essex before London and the first staging post in Essex from London … The great Roman road between London and Colchester was diverted through Stratford in the 12th century when Bow Bridge was built.
The largest settlement in West Ham,
, developed due to two factors: bread and cattle. Corn from Stratford Essex was brought to the many windmills and watermills along the Lea and its back rivers. Flour from the corn was turned into bread using ovens fired with wood from Epping Forest, which then stretched down almost to the Romford Road. bakers were exempt from City guild controls and were frequently in court for giving short measure. Cattle were brought to Stratford Stratford from the eastern counties for slaughter or onward transit to , and tanning and other leather-based industries developed there. The presence of a large monastic foundation with many royal connections, Stratford Langthorne Abbey, no doubt attracted further wealth to the area. London
The River Lea was the stimulus for further early industrial activity. Silk-weaving and calico-printing were undertaken in the 17th and 18th centuries and Bow porcelain was made in
in the mid-18th century. Distilling and gunpowder-making were also important. Stratford
The rest of the parish comprised a scattering of small agricultural hamlets which included Plaistow,
Church Lane, Forest Gate and Upton. The marshland in the south of the parish was used for grazing cattle and pasturing horses. Places like Upton and Plaistow were pleasant enough rural retreats to attract City merchants who built substantial houses there. By the late 19th century the separate hamlets of Plaistow, Stratford, Upton, Canning Town and Forest Gate had merged in a sea of bricks and mortar and West Ham was the eighth largest town in Britain.’
It would be unrecognizable today to John and Mary Ann Gadsden as the picturesque rural spot where they spent the halcyon days of their early married life, and where their first two children were born. By 7 November 1828 they spent some time at Clapton, as shown in the register of St John Hackney, where their daughter Mary Rochenda was baptised, having been born in the July of that year. She died aged only four months and was buried 24 November 1828, also recorded at St John Hackney.
Their next child, another daughter, Emily, was born in July 1830 in
Waterford, Ireland, where a new chapter of this family unfolded. Gadsden