Reference NumberP/GTX
TitlePapers of the Reverend Dan Greatorex, Vicar of St. Paul, Dock Street, Whitechapel
DescriptionDiaries of the Reverend Dan Greatorex, 1852-1862, illustrated travel diaries, 1872-1892 with photograph album. Also a printed sermon, 1859.

The diaries offer a valuable insight into Victorian Britain and the lifestyle and attitudes of the Victorian clergyman abroad. See further details under the Administrative History description. Many are heavily illustrated and include loose documents, photographs, pressed plants and flowers gathered on his travels.

Most diaries have been catalogued in detail to diary entry level.

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Extent2 boxes
AdminHistoryReverend Dan Greatorex served as vicar of St. Paul's Church, Dock Street for thirty-five years from 1862-1897 where he had a major involvement in helping the poor in his parish.

Daniel Greatorex was born in March 1828 in St Marylebone, Middlesex. He was baptised on 4 May 1828 at Christ Church, St Marylebone as 'Dan' son of William and Susanna Greatorex of 31 Lisson Street. His father William was a grocer.

He studied for ordination at St Bees Theological College, Whitehaven, Cumbria for two years, from 1854. He served his title as curate of St Mary Bilston, Staffordshire, before becoming Chaplain to the Thames Church Mission in London. It was here put into practice his scheme of ships lending libraries. He became incumbent of St. Paul's Church on 21 October 1862. The new parish was legally assigned on 4 August 1864 and he was made vicar by Act of Parliament in August 1868. He lived at the Vicarage in Dock Street, Whitechapel.

Diaries for the period 1852-1862 record his problems of settling into a job through to his academic years at St. Bees College, Whitehaven and his curacy at Bilston, Staffordshire and St. Paul's Church, Dock Street. They also cover in great depth Rev. Greatorex's work for the Thames Church Mission. Further details of the Thames Church Mission can be found in 'Seaman's Missions: Their Origin and Early Growth', Library reference, LC915. His work for the Mission was based on the ship "The Swan" which was based in the Blackwall area. Much of the work for this Mission centred upon Greatorex visiting ships to distribute books and religious tracts to the crews of these ships. On 19 May 1860 he visited twenty-two ships and one yacht on one day.

These earlier diaries also shed light on his social life and include references to arguably the great love of Rev. Greatorex's early life one Lucy Royston whom he appears to have been engaged to. Sadly though it appears that she died. Financial support was the key to Rev. Greatorex's academic life. In a diary entry for 4 September 1854 he states that this day Monday September 4" begun an new era in my life". This is due to him receiving a note from Mr Dobin of Dartmoor, Devon relating to St. Bee's college offering to lend him financial support. It also appears that Rev. Greatorex's brother Reuben, an architect, also offered him financial support at crucial times.

The other distinct period is that of 1872-1892 which is covered by the illustrated travel diaries. Rev. Greatorex fills these diaries with sketches. Wide ranging subjects include people, buildings and artefacts through to shorelines. These diaries cover his trips to Australia, Spain, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Canada, United States of America, Eastern Europe, Russia, Norway, France and the Mediterranean. These diaries also included references to earlier trips taking by Rev. Greatorex to these countries for which no diaries were written or known to survive. Items he collected in the volumes include the remains of a leaf from a plant growing above the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte on St. Helena (1873) and maps, menus and receipts. The diaries demonstrate his great interest in the natural world. Rev. Greatorex supplied the Philadelphia Zoological Gardens with animals, which he sent from England (diary entry 4 November 1886).

Throughout these diaries it is apparent that Rev. Greatorex suffered periods of ill health. Although this did not stop his travelling and his hard work. Rev. Greatorex retired on 1 July 1897 after being partly paralysed by a stroke. After he retired he moved to Dover where he married Margaret Doyle who had been one of the early pupils of St. Paul's Church of England primary school, Wellclose Square the building of which was the plan of Rev. Greatorex. Margaret Doyle had gone on to become pupil teacher and then Head mistress of the infants school in 1886. The Prince and Princess of Wales opened St. Paul's Church of England primary school in 1870. Contemporary illustrations show a youthful Rev. Greatorex. These images are reproduced in the pamphlet on St. Paul's School 1870-1995, Library reference: LC11891 [Pamphlets, Class 820.1] and reading the excerpts from the school logs which are reproduced in this pamphlet also offer an insight into the feisty character of Margaret Doyle.

St. Paul's Church of England primary school was only one of many schemes designed to help the poorer inhabitants of his parish that Rev. Greatorex was involved in. Up until his retirement he had been manager of the school but along with this he was also involved with other Day schools, Sunday schools, arranging mothers meetings and the Penny Bank and Provident Fund. Rev. Greatorex also established a Clothed Scholars Fund and an infant nursery. The infant nursery would be used to train young clothed scholars and to teach the skills of parenting to new mothers. Rev. Greatorex also was heavily involved in the St. Paul's Poor Mother's Friend Society, the Wilfred Cottage Hospital and Poor Children' Dinners. Rev. Greatorex was the first to establish Poor Children's Dinners in 1864 and provided some 376,599 free dinners in his time.

Rev. Dan Greatorex died on 7 March 1901 aged 72 in Dover, Kent.

For further details visit: (accessed October 2021)
RelatedMaterialRecords of St Paul, Dock Street are held at London Metropolitan Archives, reference P93/PAU2
NotesCatalogued by Gary Haines in 1999, edited by Malcolm Barr-Hamilton and Richard Wiltshire.
SubjectSunday Schools in Stepney
St. Paul’s C.E. Primary School (Wellclose square)
Poor relief
Seaman’s missions
Christian missions
Schools – Stepney
Social life
Churches – Stepney
Church of England religious life
St. Paul (Dock Street)
PhysicalDescriptionVolumes contain fragile, loose items including plant matter. Handle with extra care and keep the order as found.
Access StatusOpen
RequestNO - This does not represent a physical document. Please click on the reference number and view list of records to find material available to order at file or item level.


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