Minories' name is derived from the former Abbey of the Minoresses of St. Clare without Aldgate, a house of the Poor Clares, members of the Order of St Clare, founded in 1294 and known generally in medieval England as "minoresses". A "minoress" was a nun in the Second Order of the Order of Friars Minor known as Franciscans. A small side-road off Minories is named St. Clare Street. The name can be found in other English towns including Birmingham, Colchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Stratford-upon-Avon.
In September 2013, a well preserved Roman statue of an eagle, thought to have been part of a funerary monument, was discovered on a building site on the street. The statue is considered to be one of the best examples of Romano-British sculpture in existence.
The area was a papal peculiar outside the jurisdiction of the English bishops. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 when the property passed to the Crown. The chapel of the former abbey became the Church of Holy Trinity, Minories, and other buildings were used as an armoury and later as a workhouse. In 1686, the area became part of the Liberties of the Tower of London. The Minories area historically hosted a large Jewish community.
Minories Holy Trinity was abolished as a civil parish in 1895 and absorbed into the parish of Whitechapel.
The street gave its name to Minories railway station, built in 1840 as a part of the London and Blackwall Railway – a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) cable railway. The site is now occupied by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station Tower Gateway, which opened in 1989 as the system's western terminus. The DLR was extended westward in 1991 to Bank, leaving Tower Gateway as a secondary alternative terminus.
The modern street named Minories runs north-south with traffic flowing both-ways from Aldgate to Tower Hill; it is part of the A1211 road between the Barbican and Whitechapel. The border between the City and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets ran haphazardly between Minories and nearby Mansell Street until boundary changes in 1994 relocated the present-day border along Mansell Street, so that Minories is now within the City of London. Aldgate Underground station is at the northern end of Minories, on Aldgate High Street.