The borough of Hackney was formed in 1965 from the area of the former metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington. The new council adopted elements of its constituents in the new coat of arms; Shoreditch by three bells from Shoreditch Church (recalled in the rhyme Oranges and Lemons), Stoke Newington by two trees bearing fruit, and Hackney by the eight pointed cross of the principal landowners of the parish in the middle-ages, the Order of St John of Jerusalem
Individual parts of the borough have a rich history. The Roman road, Ermine Street forms the western edge of the borough. Much of the rest of the land was covered with open oak and hazel woodlands, with marshland around the rivers and streams that crossed the area.
Sutton House, on Homerton High Street, is the oldest surviving dwelling in Hackney, originally built as Bryck Place for Tudor diplomat Sir Ralph Sadleir in 1535. The village of Hackney flourished from the Tudor to late Georgian periods as a rural retreat – brought to an end by the construction of the railway in the 1850s. Notable residents have included Thomas Sutton, Samuel Courtauld, and Joseph Priestly, a governor of the Bank of England and the founding director of the Honourable East India Company.