"LEYTON (LOW), a parish in the hundred of BECONTREE, county of ESSEX, 6 miles (N. E.) from London, containing, with the chapelry of Leytonstone, 3374 inhabitants.
This place derives its name, which appears to be a contraction of Lee town, from its situation on the river Lee; it is supposed by Camden and others to be the site of the ancient Durolium; but whether or not, it is evident that here was a Roman station: various pavements, foundations of buildings, coins, both consular and imperial, and other Roman antiquities having been repeatedly discovered, particularly near the manor-house. At a place called Ruckholt are vestiges of an old intrenchment, now nearly covered with trees.
The village is situated on a gentle ascent, rising gradually from the western bank of the river Lee, and continuing to the Forest of Waltham, eastward of which is the hamlet of Leytonstone, now so populous as to comprise nearly one-half of the inhabitants of the whole parish the single street of which it consists extending nearly from the forest to Stratford, in the direct road from Epping to London, and lighted with gas. here are several good houses, and some large mansions.
The living of Low Leyton is a discharged vicarage, in the jurisdiction of the Commissary of London, concurrently with the Consistorial Court of the Bishop, rated in the king's books at £7. 12., and in the patronage of J. Pardoe, Esq. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain brick edifice, with a tower at the west end; it was repaired and enlarged in the seventeenth century, and again in 1822: the chancel contains some elegant monuments of the family of Hickes, with marble effigies, and of that of Sir Robert Beachcroft, lord mayor of London in 1721, and a liberal benefactor to Christ's and St. Thomas's hospitals 5 also one of Mr. John Wood, who travelled over several parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America; there is likewise one to the memory of the antiquary and biographer, the Rev. John Strype, who was vicar of Leyton, from 1669, till his death, which took place in 1737, at the great age of ninety-four; he rebuilt the vicarage-house, and was a liberal contributor to the church and parish. A chapel of ease was erected at Leytonstone, in 1750, by subscription.
Within the parish are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists.
In 1697, Robert Ozler bequeathed £300 for the erection, and a rent-charge of £12 for the endowment, of a free school, for a certain number of children of Leyton and Walthamstow; the school was built here, and the present number of boys is fourteen. There are National schools for boys, in connexion with schools of Industry for girls at Low Leyton and Leytonstone. Almshouses for eight poor widows were founded, in 1653, by John Smith, who endowed them with £20 per annum, to which, in 1747, Charles and John Phillips added the respective rent-charges of £12 and £6, for their further support: they were repaired in 1789, at the expense of William Bosanquet, Esq.
In addition to the antiquities above-mentioned, an arched gateway, ten feet in height, and six feet wide, ornamented with mouldings, was discovered near the manor-house, several years ago; and numerous urns have also been dug up near Ruckholt: in the year 1783, whilst some workmen were employed in digging a channel at the Temple Mills, in this parish, a stone coffin, in which were various pieces of armour, was discovered.
The celebrated Sir Thomas Rowe, or Roe, ambassador to the great Mogul in the reign of Charles I., was a native of Leyton; and Lady Margaret Brian, governess to Edward VI., and the princesses Mary and Elizabeth, resided here in 1551. Edward Rowe Mores, Esq., a distinguished antiquary of the last century, long lived in a house of singular construction, built by himself, in this parish, now called Etloe place."
From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016