Reflections on the will of William Forrest

The last will and testament of William Forrest of Badsey, the brother of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest – a transcription of which I shared in the previous post – is a useful source for information about the Forrests and their links with other families in Worcestershire and London. Some of that information I’ve already discussed in other posts, particularly those on the Boulton family, so here I’ll simply summarise what the will tells us, and highlight areas that need further exploration.

Vale of Evesham (via eveshamtown.co.uk)

Vale of Evesham (via eveshamtown.co.uk)

The first ‘item’ of William’s will reads as follows:

I give and bequeath the Legacies following vizt To my Cozen Ann Fort daughter of Margery Fort deceased five pounds To Richard and Ann sonne and daughter of Richard Haines of Charleton and Jane his wife five pounds apeece To William Grace and Hester children of Mr Thomas Saunders of Moore twenty shillings apeece To my Sister Alice Boulton five pounds To my Cozen Elizabeth Markland twenty shillings to buy her a ring To my Cozen Alice Bolton daughter of Peter Bolton twenty shillings To the four younger children of my Cozen Alice Bine vizt Alice Mary Magnus and Thomas Bine ten pounds apeice

So far I’ve been unable to find any definite records for either Ann or Margery Fort, but their position near the beginning of the will suggests a close relationship to the testator. If William were consistent in his use of the word ‘cousin’ (and it’s a big ‘if’) then we might speculate that Margery was William’s sister, that she married a man named Fort and that Ann was their daughter. I’ve had no joy yet with the Raines family either. I assume that the Charlton referred to here is the village near Evesham, not far from Moor, the home of Thomas Saunders, who is mentioned in the next sentence.

I wrote about the Saunders family in an earlier post. It seems likely that Hester Saunders was the person of that name who married Thomas Crabb in London in 1708, and whose children Henry and Richard rose to positions of prominence in the East India Company. She is described in the 1737 will of Richard Boulton the elder as his niece, which means that her mother, the wife of Thomas Saunders, must have been Richard’s sister, and another Boulton. Moor, the tiny hamlet close to the village of Fladbury, was only seven miles or so from William Forrest’s home in Badsey.

There are more Boulton connections embedded in the next sentence. If Alice Boulton was William’s sister, and another Alice, the daughter of Peter Boulton, was his ‘cozen’ (for which I suggest we read ‘niece’), then it seems likely that the elder Alice was married to Peter Boulton. However, the only Peter Boulton that we’ve come across so far is London gunsmith Major Peter Boulton. We know that the name of his wife, certainly at the time of his death in 1743, was Posthuma, and it’s also possible that he had a first wife named Elizabeth Bushwell, whom he married in 1691, and who was originally from Fladbury. It seems unlikely that this first wife would have died, and Peter not only remarried but had a daughter named Alice, by 1698. And not only that, but both Alices would then need to have died, and Peter married for a third time, to Posthuma, with whom we know he had at least one child, by the time of his death.

Tower of London in late 17th century (Johann Spilberg II) (via http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk)

Tower of London in late 17th century (Johann Spilberg II) (via http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk)

At the same time, we have to remember that William Forrest was probably an old man when he made his will in 1698. His brother Thomas had died in 1678, by which time he had two children, at least one of whom (Alice, my 8 x great grandmother) was married with a child of her own. I think it’s likely that Thomas was born some time around 1630, so we can assume that his brother William and their sister Alice were born in the same period. In other words, Alice would probably have been too old to marry Major Peter Boulton, and it’s more likely that she married a Boulton from an earlier generation. In fact, my latest theory is that she and her husband Peter were the parents  of Major Peter Boulton, Captain Richard Boulton the elder, and all of the other Boulton siblings mentioned in their wills.

If I’m right, then it means that William Forrest would have been the uncle of Peter, Richard and their brothers and sisters, and would explain why their names occur in his will and that of his niece Alice Byne née Forrest, my 8 x great grandmother. It would also mean that William’s ‘cozen’ ( = niece) Alice would be the sister of Major Peter Boulton and Captain Richard Boulton, in fact one of the sisters, unnamed in their wills, who married either Captain Richard Gosfreight, James Jemblin or someone with the surname Colliby or Coleby.

As for Elizabeth Markland, I’m hoping the picture will become clear once I’ve analysed the will of her husband Martin. However, it seems highly likely that Elizabeth was another Boulton sibling and therefore (if my speculation above is accurate) a niece of William Forrest.

We’re on more familiar ground when William Forrest moves on to Alice Byne and her children. We know that Alice, my 8 x great grandmother, was William’s niece, the daughter of his brother Thomas, and that she was married to John Byne, Citizen and stationer of London, who was originally from Sussex, and who had died in 1689. William’s listing of the surviving Byne children confirms that one daughter, Anne, had died by 1698. At this date, the eldest child, John Byne junior, would have been 19, Alice 17, Mary (my 7 x great grandmother) 15, Magnus 13, and Thomas perhaps 12 (I haven’t yet found a record of his birth or baptism).

The fact that William Forrest left so much of his estate to Alice and her eldest son John suggests that he had no immediate heirs of his own. There is certainly no mention of a wife, or of any children or grandchildren, in the will, so we must conclude either that William remained unmarried or that his wife and/or any children predeceased him.

I also think it’s likely that, unlike his brother Thomas, and many of the relatives named in the will, William remained in Worcestershire rather than moving to London. The fact that he describes himself as a ‘yeoman’ suggests that he was a landowning but working farmer, rather than someone, like his relatives Richard Boulton junior of Perdiswell, Peter Boulton of Bath or John Jemblin of Evesham (who I’ll discuss in another post) who seem to have retired from London to country estates.

The legacy of the lands in Badsey would become a cause of contention between Alice Byne and her son John. I now have a copy of the legal documents relating to their dispute and will analyse them at some point. There is also still the outstanding mystery of how John Bodington, a Stepney apothecary and friend of my 7 x great grandfather (and Alice Byne’s son-in-law) Joseph Greene came to have an expectation that he would inherit property from Alice. But these questions are for another time.

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This entry was posted in Bodington, Boulton, Byne, Crabb, Forrest, Gosfreigth, Greene, Jemblin. Bookmark the permalink.

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