Portsoken is one of the City of London's 25 ancient wards, which are still used for local elections. It is predominantly outside the walls, in the east of the City. It is mainly residential, and is sometimes considered to be part of the East End of London.[3]

Ward of Portsoken

St Botolph's Aldgate[1]
Ward of Portsoken
Location within Greater London
Population985 (2011 Census. Ward)[2]
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtE1
Postcode districtEC3
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament

Aldgate ward is to the west and Tower ward to the south. East are Middlesex Street, Spitalfields Street and Mansell Street in Whitechapel (part of the borough of Tower Hamlets). To the north is Bishopsgate ward; to the south, the former liberties of the Royal Mint by the Thames.

The ward is about 5 hectares in area, and is mainly oriented north-south. The Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School was moved into the ward in the 2003 boundary review, forming a westerly salient, and is the only part of the ward within the former city wall.


John Stow's survey of London records that the ‘soke’ - in this context the right to extract fines as a source of income[4] - (later ‘liberty’) was granted in the time of Saxon king Edgar the Peaceful, east of Aldgate to a Guild of Knights in exchange, essentially, for regular jousting. Norman kings confirmed these rights but later the land was voluntarily transferred to the Priory of the Holy Trinity by the descendants of the Guild.

In 1120 or 1121 (the exact date is unknown), Portsoken was granted as a liberty to the Priory of Holy Trinity, which had been founded in 1107 by Queen Matilda, the wife of King Henry I. The sitting prior of Holy Trinity became, ex officio, an alderman of the City of London Corporation representing Portsoken ward, and remained so until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1531.[5]

In 1332, a tax assessment showed 23 taxpayers in Portsoken. However, this figure only included freemen of the City of London who possessed moveable property worth more than 10 shillings, and so did not include the poor, non-citizens, or members of religious orders.[6] A later subsidy roll from 1582 showed that the ward's taxpayers had been assessed to pay a total of 57 pounds, 11 shillings and 4 pence.[7]

Boundary changes in 1994 altered the boundary between the City of London and Tower Hamlets in the area quite considerably. A small part of Portsoken ward was transferred to Tower Hamlets; however a much larger area was transferred to the City from Tower Hamlets, though not all initially to Portsoken ward.[8] In the 2003 ward boundary review, much of the additional territory in this part of the City was given to Portsoken, as it consisted mainly of residential and related buildings including the Middlesex Street Estate.[9] With the loss of some business-dominated parts, the gaining of this residential area and the gaining of the primary school, Portsoken is now regarded as one of the City's four residential wards, with a population of 985 (2011).[10]


Portsoken is one of 25 wards in the City of London, each electing an alderman to the Court of Aldermen, and commoners (the City equivalent of a councillor) to the Court of Common Council of the City of London Corporation. Only electors who are Freemen of the City are eligible to stand for election.

Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Industry from 1979–1981 and Secretary of State for Education and Science from 1981–1986 under Margaret Thatcher, took the area as his territorial designation on elevation to the Lords in 1987. Similarly, Peter Levene (Lord Mayor 1998-1999) in 1997. Joseph's father was Lord Mayor in 1942-3.

In 2014 William Campbell-Taylor made history when he became the first ever party politician to win a seat on the City of London's Common Council, standing as a Labour candidate in a by-election in the ward of Portsoken.[11] William Campbell-Taylor stood down as a Common Councilman in March 2017 at the end of his time in office.[12]

In the 2017 City-wide Common Council elections, the Labour Party won two seats in Portsoken ward with local residents Jason Pritchard and Munsur Ali topping the polls and Independent incumbents John Fletcher and Henry Jones elected in third and fourth place respectively.[13] The Labour Party won a record total of five seats on the Common Council in March 2017, winning two seats in Portsoken, two seats in Cripplegate ward and one seat in Aldersgate ward.[14]

In December 2017, William Campbell-Taylor stood as the first ever party political candidate to contest a City of London Aldermanic election, standing for Labour in Portsoken ward, but was defeated by Independent candidate Prem Goyal.[15][16] Prem Goyal is the founder of the UK political party, All People's Party,[17] although to date Goyal has chosen to stand as an Independent in elections in the City of London.[18]

City of London Corporation election, 2017

On 23 March 2017 two Labour and two independent Common Councilmen were elected.

Portsoken Ward[19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Jason Paul Pritchard 230 20.03
Labour Munsur Ali 210 18.29
Independent John William Fletcher 197 17.16
Independent Henry Llewellyn Michael Jones 187 16.29
Independent Ayesha Azad 153 13.33
Independent Asif Sadiq 111 9.67
Independent David James Barker 60 5.23
Turnout 1148 50.7
Labour hold Swing
Labour gain from Independent Swing
Independent hold Swing
Independent hold Swing

See also


  1. If you look carefully you can see the Portsoken Bulletin, detailing the ward officers.
  2. "City of London Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  3. Guide to tours of the Jewish East End published by LBTH, 2003, https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Leisure-and-culture/Tourism/Visitor-information/Jewish-East-End-walk-leaflet.pdf
  4. Citadel of the Saxons, by Rory Naismith, p 163
  5. p45, Inwood, Stephen, A History of London (Macmillan, 1998), ISBN 0-333-67154-6
  6. p61, Inwood, Stephen, A History of London (Macmillan, 1998), ISBN 0-333-67154-6
  7. 1582 London Subsidy Rolls, British History Online
  8. The City and London Borough Boundaries Order 1993 (enacted 1994)
  9. Corporation of London, https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/housing/housing-estates/Pages/middlesex-street.aspx
  10. "Local statistics - Office for National Statistics". www.ons.gov.uk.
  11. First ever party politician to win a seat on the City of London's Common Council
  12. peterkenyon, Author (10 March 2017). "Saying thank you and sending best wishes to Rev Dr William Campbell Taylor".
  13. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-city-of-london-election-vote-independence-jeremy-corbyn-a7649221.html]
  14. labourportsoken, Author (29 November 2017). "Labour's candidate William Campbell-Taylor on why party politics has a place in the City".
  15. Prem Goyal wins Portsoken Aldermanic election
  16. Goyal, Prem. "All People's Party – gathering momentum in Southwark". www.obv.org.uk. Operation Black Vote. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  17. "Election results - City of London". mobile.cityoflondon.gov.uk. City of London Corporation. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  18. City of London Corporation: Notice of Persons Elected, 2017
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