16 February 2009

1870s Migration from Belgium to London

In the late 1870s, some of my father's family left Belgium in mysterious circumstances and went to live in Soho in London.

My great great grandfather's first name is written in various records as Johannes, Jan, Jean and John. He was a tailor by trade and was born in Lier, south of Antwerp, in 1830. My great great grandmother was his third wife.

The family lived at various Soho addresses, including Carnaby Street, Wardour Street, Poland Street and Leicester Place. In the late 1800s, John was a theatrical costumier. At around the time, the family name changed slightly.

Belgian history

As I learn more about my Flemish heritage, the more I discover about the turbulent history of Belgium and its frequent use as the battleground of various belligerents. There are some similarities with the history of Italy, with constant invasions and a shared Catholic culture.

Your family history

Three of my blogs now have nine posts each. I have decided to postpone their continuation for a while until there are some interesting comments from visitors for me to explore.

Wherever your family originated, on whichever continent or continents, I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Hi, I'm intrigued by the image in the sidebar under the heading "Belgian and British Heritage". Who are the boys in the picture? I am a Gyseman living in Wales now, descended from some who were living in London during at least the beginning of the 1900s.

  2. Hello Charlotte

    The children in the picture are some of the many grandchildren of John (Johannes) and Anne Catherine Gyseman. The family migrated from Belgium to London in the 1870s.

    The names of the boys in the picture are Albert, Arthur, Louis and Ernest.

    You may like to contact me by email at writetovia (at) gmail.com to let me know who the Gysemans in your family were in 1900.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you again.

    Best wishes from Via

  3. The phot is my father and his brothers. The girl in the background is probably their sister Vera


I especially appreciate historical insights.