The history of the Hitchen family of Pearly Kings and Queens, one of the oldest Pearly families who are still carrying on the tradition to this day. The first Pearlie’s of the Hitchen family were George Hitchen born 1884 and his wife Elizabeth they were Pearly King and Queen of Dalston, George had five Sons and five Daughters and on retiring from pearly work gave their eldest son George the Dalston title in 1925, George Junior born 1907 was 17 years old.
George later gained the title of Pearly King of the City of London and passed the Dalston title to one of his family, Ronnie, who has just passed his title to his neice Jodie Lee Borer in 2009. Daughter Sharon held the Queen title for a number over years taking over from Mother Sade who retired from buttons due to ill health. George held the City of London title until he died aged 83, the title was then passed down to his son Victor Nutley. Hayley (his stepdaughter is currently acting as his Queen, who is also the grand-daughter of the Pearly King and Queen of the Isle of Dogs). Victors daughter Vanessa is Pearly Queen of Hoxton and her daughters Ella Vallely and Mia Vallely are princesses of Hoxton. George senior’s other Sons all had East London titles and continued to raise money through their buttons for charity.
Five generations of Pearlies dedicated to charity.
Other generations of Pearlies have stemmed from George Hitchen Jr, Lorraine Wells, Grandaughter and Pearly Queen of Tower Hamlets has continued to continue the tradition by crowning her daughter Jodie-Lee Pearly Queen of Dalston on the 22nd March 2009. Jodie-Lee takes the title of Dalston from her uncle Ronnie.
George and brother Fred were the most traveled Pearlies and visited many countries promoting British tourism they visited places such as New York where they appeared on What’s My Line, Rome, Denmark, Holland, Canada, and many others, they both raised thousands of pounds for charity in their life time as Pearlies, both played piano and accordions and entertained in pubs clubs and other venues to raise money for various charities. George even had a waxwork made of him in Madam Tussauds.
George senior’s other son Fred gained the title of Pearly King of Westminster with his Queen and wife Lou. Fred and Lou have a son David and a Daughter Carole. Carole and her Husband Sonny currently hold the title of Pearly King and Queen of Victoria and have three Children, Nicki and Toni who are Princesses and Billy who is Prince of Victoria.
Fred’s son David inherited the Westminster title when his parents died and made his daughter Kelly is his Queen. Louisa and James Hitchen are the children of David and are currently Pearly Princess and Prince of Westminster. George Hitchen senior’s eldest daughter Min was born in 1905. Min had one son Daniel Michael, known to many as Mick. Min died aged 100,
George Hitchen Junior’s friend and pearly buddy Alf Meader was pearly King of Hackney from 1920, and on his retirement he bestowed his title to George for his grandson Paul Groves. In 1975 Paul was crowned Pearly King of Hackney by The Reverend Austin Williams of St Martins in the Field, Paul could not continue his pearly work and passed the title on to Danny and Jackie. They were given a ceremony at the Hackney Town Hall to pass over the title and are officially registered as the Pearly King and Queen of Hackney at the Town hall; they are also Freemen of the City of London.
Danny and Jackie have two Daughters, Teresa who is crowned Pearly Queen of Clapton her son Alfie is her Pearly Prince who is a fifth generation Pearly. Their other daughter Linda is Pearly Queen of Shoreditch and their three other grandchildren Prince and Princesses of Shoreditch, are again the fifth generation of Pearlies to take up the tradition. Their niece Sharon is Pearly Queen of Homerton, niece Lucy is Pearly princess of Homerton, cousin Phyliss and husband Ernie are the Pearly King and Queen of Islington who hold the Freedom of the City of London. Phyliss and Ernie have a son called Robert who is also a Pearly Prince.
Danny the Hackney Pearly King inherited the family musical skills and played the keyboard, with Jackie and Phyllis plus their friends George and Joy Carr the Pearly King and Queen of Southwark, entertain in Hackney and all over London and beyond and have raised hundreds of pounds for various charities. They have entertained at Homerton Hospital, Richard House Hospice For Children plus old folks homes and sheltered accommodation all over Hackney and have helped to raise lots of money for the Hospice.
Danny and Jackie attended the Queen Mothers 100th birthday parade and with other family members and members of the Pearly Kings & Queens Association entertained on stage at the Queens Golden Jubilee parade, they also appear on the Jools Holland Hootenanny show each year. They have appeared in adverts on TV for the world cup and adverts for Quantas Airlines. Danny worked for Hackney council in Parks and Leisure and did promotional work for the parks in Hackney. He was also Chairman of the Original Pearly Kings & Queens Association, an honour that has now passed to his wife Jackie as Mick passed away 17th September 2008.
The family are proud of their Pearly ancestry and are determined to carry on the Pearly tradition. The Hitchen family can state with pride that they are all true Pearlies after five generations of dedicated work for charity.
There are a number of Hitchen family members who are currently inactive that once held/or still hold pearly titles.
These are :-
- Sharon Hanks (officially crowned) – daughter of George Hitchin Jr. Sharon was pearly princess of City of London and then assumed the title of Pearly Queen of City London when she took over from her mother Sade (who retired buttons due to ill health). The City of London titles are currently held by Brother Victor Nutley.
- Georgie Hanks – daughter of Sharon Hanks who still holds her mothers title of Princess of City London.
- Paul Groves (officially crowned) Pearly King of Hackney alongside Janet Groves (sister) who held the Pearly Queen of Hackney title. Paul and Janet are the children of Dot Groves and Grandson and Grandaughter of George Hitchen Jr.
- Grant Nutley, formerly Pearly Prince of Hoxton. Grant is the son of Victor Nutley, previously King of Hoxton, and previously Pearly King of the City of London. Grant is the grandson of George Hitchen Jnr
- Kim Sachs (Officially Crowned), formerly Pearly Prince of City of London. Son of Maude, daughter of George Hitchen Jnr.
- Marie Rose (not blood related, but may as well have been as she was virtually family). Marie was Pearly pride of City of London who raised thousands alongside George Hitchen Jnr.