I’m grateful to Janet Payne, Archives Volunteer at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, for responding to my enquiries about John Bodington of Stepney. Her information provides valuable confirmation of connections about which I could only speculate in earlier posts.

Apothecaries Hall, London

Apothecaries Hall, London

If you’ve followed my previous posts on John Bodington, you’ll recall that my interest in him was sparked by his will of 1728, in which he not only names my 7 x great grandfather, goldsmith Joseph Greene (1677 – 1738), as an executor, but also declares a stake in the property of Joseph’s mother-in-law (and my 8 x great grandmother) Alice Byne. So far, my researches into the Bodingtons of Stepney have revealed that an earlier John Bodington, almost certainly a relative of the apothecary who wrote his will in 1728, was a barber-surgeon, apprenticed to William Greene , chirurgeon of Ratcliffe (died 1656), and married to his daughter Margaret. This is of interest to me because William is a prime candidate to be the father of my 8 x great grandfather, Captain William Greene (died 1686).

Janet’s research on my behalf seems to confirm what I already suspected: that there were actually three generations of John Bodingtons living in Stepney in the 17th and early 18th centuries, the first a barber-surgeon and the second and third both apothecaries. Starting with the third John Bodington, the man who wrote his will in 1728 and was a close friend of Joseph Greene: it seems that he was included in the Yeomanry list of the Society in 1702 and appears in the Livery List in both 1719 and 1727. I’m fairly sure he is also the person that Janet has found in a list of Apothecary Apprentices 1670-1800, which mentions the apprenticing of ‘Bodington John s[on of] John, citizen and apothecary to John Hemingway 1 Dec 1691’.

An apothecary's pestle and mortar from 1662 (via apothecaries.org)

An apothecary’s pestle and mortar from 1662 (via apothecaries.org)

In other words, this third John Bodington – let’s call him John Bodington (3) – was the son of another apothecary bearing the same name – whom we’ll call John Bodington (2). Even more interesting for our purposes is the information contained in a record of London Apprentices for the years 1617-1669, in the volume headed ‘Apothecaries’ which reads as follows:

Boddington John s[on of] John [of] London, Citizen + Barber Surgeon to Thomas Elton 3rd May 1659 

I’m fairly sure that the apprentice named here was the aforementioned John Bodington (2), and that his father, the barber-surgeon, whom we’ll call John Bodington (1), was the person who was apprenticed to William Greene and who married the latter’s daughter Margaret in 1638.

Putting everything in chronological order, let’s try to summarise what we know about each of these three men.

John Bodington(1)

He was a chirurgeon or barber-surgeon, apprenticed to William Greene of Stepney, probably born some time around 1620. He married William’s daughter Margaret, 19, at St Dunstan’s, Stepney, in 1638.

I’ve found evidence of two daughters born to John and Margaret Boddington. In 1643, John Bodington of Shadwell, chirurgeon, and his wife Margaret, had a daughter named Anne christened at St Dunstan’s. In 1662, the same couple had a daughter Elizabeth baptised; she died three years later.

If John Bodington (2) was the son of John and Margaret, and his apprenticeship records seems to suggest this was the case, then he was probably born some time around 1645, given that he was apprenticed in 1658 and I believe fourteen was the usual age for this to take place. The fact that I’ve yet to find a christening record for John need not concern us unduly, since this was at the height of the Civil War when parish registers were often interrupted.

I haven’t found a burial record for John Bodington (1) or any trace of a will, a document that would be extremely useful in confirming the links not only between the different generations of the Bodington family, but more importantly between the Bodingtons and the Greenes.

St Dunstan's, Stepney (George Shepherd, 1818)

St Dunstan’s, Stepney (George Shepherd, 1818)

John Bodington (2)

He was apprenticed to Thomas Elton, apothecary, in 1659. (In 1691, Thomas Elton, apothecary at Mile End Green, was nominated as a governor of Bridewell Royal Hospital, and a few years later someone of that name was paying tax on property in Broad Street, Ratcliffe. At one stage he was also Master of the Society of Apothecaries of London. )

I suspect that it was John Bodington (2) who was married to a woman named Joan. In November 1673, Margaret, daughter of John Bodington, an apothecary in Ratcliff, was buried at St Dunstan’s.  In 1682, John and Joan Bodington had a daughter named Elizabeth christened. In 1684, the same couple had a son Richard baptised. In 1688, John Bodington was on the Livery List of the Society of Apothecaries of London.

If John Bodington (3) was the son of this John Bodington, then he was probably born around 1677, since he was apprenticed in 1691. Incidentally, this would make him the same age as his friend, my ancestor Joseph Greene who, even if it turns out they weren’t related, would have been a neighbour in the hamlet of Ratcliffe where they both grew up. Once again, however, I’ve been unable to find any record of this John Bodington’s birth.

I’m fairly certain that the John Bodington, apothecary of Ratcliffe, who was buried at St Dunstan’s in 1698 was John Bodington (2). If my calculations are correct, he would have been about 53 years old.

John Bodington (3)

Born in about 1677, he was apprenticed to John Hemingway, apothecary, in 1691 and was a freeman by 1701. (I wonder if Hemingway was a descendant of his namesake, who was apothecary to Elizabeth I?) I’ve found no evidence of a marriage for this third John Bodington, or of any children born to him. Nor are any close relatives mentioned in his will of 1728. As I’ve noted before, the main beneficiary of Bodington’s will is his fourteen-year-old goddaughter Mary Johnson, but I’ve yet to work out her exact relationship to him.

If nothing else, this new information from the archives of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries establishes a direct link between the John Bodington who married Margaret, daughter of William Greene, and the John Bodington who was connected with Joseph Greene and Alice Byne: they were almost certainly grandfather and grandson. Of course, John Bodington (3) and Joseph Greene could simply have been childhood friends and neighbours. But the fact that John’s grandmother was a Greene points towards a closer tie. Was Joseph Greene’s father, Captain William Greene, the brother of John Bodington’s grandmother, Margaret Greene? And was William Greene, chirurgeon, both John’s great grandfather and Joseph’s grandfather?